Racing at ‘Degla’
After my amazing experience in Dahab, I no longer had the desire to cycle on the streets again. My mind was completed shifted from road to mountain bicycles. Pedaling for an extra mile was no longer a challenge anymore. The real challenge now is to concur different terrains with a fatbike, terrains were usual people think of as impossible to ride on. I kept googling to find the right fatbike for me while still riding my old bicycle.
One day I saw a page on Facebook called “MTB Egypt”. I saw a lot of pictures of them riding on hills of protectorates area called “Wadi Degla” in Cairo. By chance, I saw on their page a MTB race at “Wadi Degla”. I got excited about that race and registered for the race immediately without even thinking it through. I never cycled there and I didn’t know what were the proper gear to wear. I was excited to race with MTB pros and try to socialize and learn from them. The race was 15 KM only. I told myself it will be a piece of cake; how hard will it be!!!. My target goal is to try this new terrain than to compete with the other racers.
On 27th March 2015, I went to ‘Wadi Degla’ early morning. The sun was shining and it was nearly 30 degrees. When I entered the gates, I followed the cyclist up a hill in order to reach the registration booth. I registered my name in the race and took a number and hung it on my bicycle. I found a whole different world of cyclists around me. Everyone had their weird gears bragging about and pedals which were so small makes you wonder how people can pedal with them. (I knew after that they were called SPD pedals)
I positioned myself at the starting line with all the adrenaline were pumping through my blood veins. You can have a look at the race starting line on this video.
Did you notice the last two??!!…I’m the second from the last place wearing all white. Here is a picture of me in the last position.
After riding for several meters, I noticed that I was cycling on small tracks on the side of a cliff. I wasn’t looking down and I had no time to think. I was going so fast I couldn’t think straight. The route was getting more difficult and I was so tired. The race was turning into a nightmare. I started to think that it was a bad idea to cycle with no experience at all. The big problem was I couldn’t go back. I didn’t know the way. I had to continue the race to be able to get out of here. I pedaled slowing over the steep hills while everyone is nearly flying with their bicycles. I wished this nightmare to end.
To make things worse, my bicycle was not shifting to easy gears (Easy gears help you ride up on steep hills smoother). I didn’t know why. I hopped off my bicycle to check the gears manually but the gears were fine. When I tried to shift while pedaling, it didn’t. I was so furious with my bicycle. I knew then that I should have purchased a decent one.
Exhausted and tired after 7 Km of riding, I was trying to control my bicycle on very steep hills. I was afraid of these hills, I had to stop every time and walk through these hills instead of peddling on them. One steep hill was very very steep and I was going down. Out of confusion, I was using my front brakes and was shifting my body weight all up on front. Suddenly, I fell off my bicycle and banged my head on the rough rocks. It was a rough fall for me!! My mouth, head and arms were full of sand. I took a sip of water from my water bladder, the cap was full of sand. I couldn’t drink and I didn’t know what to do. I got some scratches on my elbows only but I injured my left knee badly. Luckily, I didn’t break any bones. To make things even worse, nobody was around me at all, not even the organizers. I was sure that I was last one in the race.
I was really confused and I didn’t know what to do. Should I continue forward or go backwards? Should I continue on foot or should I ride my bicycle until the end of this nightmare? I decided to continue riding till the end on my bicycle since it is the fastest options I had. With an injured knee, I hopped on my bicycle and continued peddling. The steep hills were getting less steep and I managed to pedal instead of walking. Before that day, I didn’t know my bicycle was that heavy. You will never know how heavy your bicycle is until you push it uphill.
After pedaling for around an hour with nobody on site, I found the terrain was becoming much smoother and more easy to pedal on. No steep hills up ahead.
Suddenly out of nowhere, I got that feeling that the finish line is very near. I had this proud moment of myself. I was so eager to cross the finish line fast. The pain from my injured knee was killing but the adrenaline pumped in my veins made me pedal faster and faster with a hope of catching any racers.
Pedaling for 10 minutes, I saw somebody pushing his bicycle. When I came closer, I saw that he had a flat tire. He looked at me with a very angry face that I still remember until this day. I was so happy to pass somebody. Finally, after exactly 1 hour and eleven minutes, I finished the race with an injured knee and a big pride.
I couldn’t see any of the racers there. I didn’t know who won that day. The organizers were preparing to leave until I crossed the finished line. I didn’t know my exact status in the race. I think I was the 2nd in last place but until this day I am not sure.
Below you can find the route that I took on ‘Strava’.
The race wasn’t that fun for me like Dahab. I was wrong to go on a race like this with no past experience on dealing with such terrain like ‘Wadi Degla’. I decided back then that I should learn the basics first of MTB and give it another try.