Returning from South Africa I hopped off at Dubai to try a ride with a difference.
I have a few places on my ride bucket list collectively under a subtitle of ‘maybe’. Seeing I was flying via Dubai I decided to action one of those.
This I imagined would make the expensive airfare to SA better value by doing two rides.
That however turned out false. I said last ride make sure you book with reputable company yet managed to get ripped off by a mob called Wadi Motors.Things seemed above board, certified BMW partner doing training and rentals. Two weeks out I am told they are closing shop. All communications cease, my deposit is lost.Hard to find another motorcycle rental and I considered abandoning the trip but Prestige Motorcycle Tours supply me a Harley.
Now this will be something different.
Their shop is out of town so I used Uber but expensive fare as is everything in Dubai. It is almost 11.00 by the time I am on the highway.My choice is the Street 750, the lowest cost rental but still premium pricing. First impression is good. Not big or heavy and it has reasonable ground clearance. Mostly sand from Dubai to the border but that is fine while I get used to the bike. You know Murphy’s law – I was hit by cold snap in South Africa and now here there is a heat wave pushing spring weather into summer.Well I am told I need not worry about rain, we shall see…I stopped at a dam before the border which told me that even in a desert it rains.I was unable to follow my route from here inland. So ended up re routing via the coast.Entering Oman took an hour. Multiple checkpoints. Long queue for visa despite having online e-visa which is waste of time (at land borders anyway). I had to buy Oman motorcycle insurance which cost about $75 for a week. Anyway it was chance to cool down and rehydrate.
Every car in Oman seems to be a V8 supercharged biturbo flagship model. Even the Corollas here are V8’s. Nah kiddin’, all Lexus.Road speed seems to be fast as possible on highway and 120 in urban areas. Reminds me of Sicily. There are speed bumps even on main roads. I guess only way to slow people down.
Staying in a nice big self catering apartment first night in Sohar.I’m worried about bike parked in front of hotel but Oman is wealthy country and crime is rare.
I am bound for Jebal Shams. A rocky 2000m mountain range with spectacular views. I booked a stay in Arabian tent hotel with full board at the peak. My desire is to see sunset over the desert. Setting off the scenery was stark but interesting.In the foot hills the roads are amazing and oddly have street lamps. In the middle of nowhere. A series of climbs over and around hills are beautiful riding.I reach a turn off to mountain but it is rough stone surface. I was supposed to be on a GS800 from other shop and forgot the road may be unsealed. Sharp stones rule out attempting this on the HD tyres. Nothing for it but to ride on to the next road that way and see what it looks like. Problem is there has been no fuel since leaving the coast.Scenery along the way is stunning. Those sheer rock faces have scale of which escapes my poor photography. The GPS soon after this gets confused. Roads do not match the map and I dub the area the Bermuda triangle.
Because I lost my good phone in South Africa I do not have Mapsme with offline maps that I always carry as backup.Riding on I came to a huge landslide blocking road. I ride down dirt track to see how bad the detour is. Met some guys who tell me there there is no fuel out here but the road on other side is excellent.The detour is via that creek above. I make it through fine, but am becoming aware this is all a bit risky.It is isolated out here, baking hot, at least 40 degrees and I have limited water and fuel, no sim card for phone.
The bike has no fuel gauge, just fuel light telling you 2 litres left around 200-215km distance.There’s being dumb and being life threatening stupid. I stick with being dumb and turn towards to the coast. The riding continues to be fabulous. However I have one eye on the odometer and am conserving throttle use and water. It is a relief when I know I am not far from the coastal road and on cue shortly after this the fuel light comes on.
I stop at a cafe to try figure out what to do while downing 600ml bottles of water like Tequila shots. No way up the mountain today. Even if I buy a jerry can the rocks could slash the tyres. l email the hotel explaining the situation.
Then I look for an Omantel shop and get a sim card, least now I might have emergency call ability. I find a beach hotel designed for westerners that is expensive but it has a rare thing, a bar (no alcohol in Oman). I need a beer.The green lines on map is how I went and circle is where the GPS and I got lost. The road I took back is not even shown on maps.
The red route is what I was thinking to try next but cannot establish if fuel beyond Rustaq or condition of road from about 200km mark.In my scramble to obtain a motorcycle to ride here I forgot my original plan was based on having off road capable machine.Well it’s a lovely night at the beach bar. 30 degrees, the ocean reflecting the moon and providing a nice breeze. Perfect for that ice cold beer.
I’m going to ride another loop to the base of the mountains having established there is fuel in Rustaq – but I reluctantly accept it’s stupid to try the summit on this bike.
The Sohar Grand Mosque.The rugged scenery and beautiful roads of Oman.
The scale is much greater than the photos convey, some of these peaks soar into the sky.Looking back as I leave the hills. Despite missing my target I have enjoyed two days of awesome motorcycle roads in dramatic landscapes.
Next I stop in Nakhl to visit it’s historic fort. I’m not into man made things but enjoy the natural cooling afforded by the interior.The official at gate asks me how I find the heat and I reply it’s like my home town in summer.
‘Ah! you are Aussie, no problem, like the Crocodile Hunter, I love him.’ He replies. My fellow Australians you will be welcomed everywhere thanks to the larakin image the world has of us. Just play along with it ok. ‘But the people from Europe, they find it difficult he laments’. Just then a Danish couple are leaving all red and flustered. He and I nod knowingly to each other.
Despite being in my gear on the bike I find it is better than wearing less when dealing with dry high temperatures. The evaporative method they call it. You need to drink heaps of water because you are perspiring but once moving that has a cooling affect. Non cotton shirt is essential and you can wet your scarf, shirt, hair and inside jacket also to get more evaporative cooling. It really works.I stop often to buy more water at small villages where I take time to sit in doorways or any bit of shade with cold drink. Locals are super friendly and all ask me am I ok, can they help. Guess you don’t need to be crazy to ride a motorcycle across desert of Oman – but it helps. The roads down on the flat follow a dry river bed and are non stop beautiful sweeping corners. Oman, a place of amazing motorcycle roads, who would have guessed. Staying at another apartment hotel tonight. I get a huge selection of ready to eat Indian food from the supermarket chain called LuLu Hypermarket – my tip; they can make fresh nan bread while you wait!
Woke up with a bit of a head cold. Going in and out of icy cold air conditioned shops hot and sweaty will do that.My original ride plan had been from the mountain of Jebel Shams down the country inland to the sand dunes.
I could try go inland today but I feel exhausted and it’s not like I can get to the dunes on the Harley.Late departure I ride direct to Muscat. These flags start about 30 km out, must be about 30,000 flags used by my calculations. Impressive.And the grand mosque stops you in your tracks. I ride around a little but big city with aggressive traffic. After a angry woman deliberately tried to run me off road I’ve had enough and check into hotel early to rest up.
I take the day off, scrap further sightseeing and attend to less glamorous things like washing, cleaning ride gear backing up photos and then drift off watching some idiotic action movie. Does hollywood make anything other than contrived nonsense now days? I’m a film noir fan, 40’s, 50’s black and white. Great movies made back then but you don’t find the classics on tv anymore.By the afternoon my cold has lifted so I ride out for a coffee and donut. Everyone stares. I might be the sole motorcycle in Oman.This hotel caters to European package tours. I watch them all seated at a long table looking bored. I smile and am happy I can still do things my way. I gladly will get on a motorcycle in the heat tomorrow rather than a air conditioned bus. Hotel has a bar so I indulge in a couple of expensive brews and watch the England Vs Sri Lanka T20 game. Really miss being able to do this in Japan. Not just the cricket, as I have said previously there are just no regular public bars/sports bars in Japan.
Feeling recovered I ride back north to Shinas to get a ferry to the other half of Oman that lies separated by the UAE.I was thinking to go inland via those nice roads but it has turned hazy and you can barely see the mountains. I was really fortunate those two days. Always curious about local variations of KFC such as I enjoy in Asia I stopped for lunch, but menu is exactly same as Australia.Leaving KFC the GPS suddenly pushes my ETA way out. Stupid me, the Garmins ETA is notoriously unreliable. Now I have to hustle or I could miss the boat.I got the Street 750 up to 140kph, which is still slower than the fast lane but all I could stand wind blast for extended period. With such good roads I ran off some time and having pre booked was ok.
The northern part of Oman is known for having steep rocky coastline. The ferry was scheduled to round the cape around sunset which should be amazing. Alas shortly after departure we encounter rough seas in a storm. So much for it doesn’t rain here. The small ship had to go slow and it was dark well before arrival.
Onboard I meet Toby from Sweden travelling around Oman in a four wheel drive and chatting to him was enjoyable. It’s can be lonely this life on the road.Leaving the boat I almost drop the bike on the wet floor that has no nonslip coating, then cannot get traction on the ramp. I push way back and slithering build a little speed then hit the ramp to arrive on the wharf by more luck than skill. There are only two hotels in Khasab and both charge double what they are worth so I choose the cheaper one as my plan is not to be in the room long tonight.
The rear brake that was wooden went spongey last night and has no braking power. Furthermore on a raked out cruiser the front wheel instantly locks on loose surface. There is an excellent view point east of here I had planned to visit but it lies down a gravel road with reasonably steep descent.
It’s not impossible but would be mighty hard.Instead I wake up while it is still dark and pack up. My hope today is I might at least see a nice sunrise. Then I can ride back to Dubai before it gets too hot.The haze of the desert creates a sunrise like no other.The road here hugs the rocky coastline.There is a communications tower up above with small gravel road so I turn off to get a photo.Of course I have to return down and what did I mention already, no brakes on gravel. Instead of having engine off and in gear using the clutch as a rear brake I put my feet out like plows and roll into patch of loose gravel that acts like a sand trap. Dumb and dumber, that’s me. But hey what about that photo! I stick to the tarmac for rest of ride south along the ocean.No queue at the border this early and much easier return procedures. I cleared immigration both countries in about 10 minutes.
Before Dubai I wanted to ride up Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE. It is all sealed multi lane like a race track. You may have seen it on one of the tv motoring shows. But today the area was shrouded in heavy smoke.Above a photo with no post editing to give you an idea. And this is after it rained last night…I went that way regardless and some of the valleys were less hazy although I have postprocessed the next image significantly. My eye was caught by a nearby a muddy pool. I have not boosted any colours, the water from last night tinted from the earth reflects the mountains in the morning before the sun can evaporate it.I decide to call time at this beautiful scene. The Street 750 rear brake has started to leak fluid over the rear wheel and sure I could still take it up the switchbacks but if I instead eased the bike south to the shop, content with what I have seen it would be wiser. Wow I make two sensible choices in one ride, wonders will never cease.Good highway straight into Dubai. With up to 6 lanes each direction your neck gets a workout looking for cars wildly changing lanes but I arrive late morning no further issues.
Last time I visited Dubai it was just 100’s of cranes, now it is 100’s of high rises joined by endless shopping malls and everyone is speaking Tagalog. Must be half the population of Philippines working and living here. Whilst I am not impressed by man made things I make an exception for the Burj Khalifa.
It is so high when close up the brain struggles with the scale.
You can go inside but it is very expensive like everything in Dubai where just a coffee will set you back $12. I could not justify the fee so enjoyed the dancing fountain show which attempts to shoot water half as high.
Whilst many issues affected this ride I am glad I gave it a go on the Street 750 which I will give a small review of later.
Riding those roads with perfect surveying in the mountains of Oman was beyond my expectations.Just an idea but if you are passing by here and it is not hazy you could see some nice desert scenery by visiting the Jebel Jais mountain on a one day ride and enjoy yourself far more than walking around shopping malls.
This post was delayed while awaiting the outcome of the Wadi Motors closure of which I got nothing back. A guy using the name Tony Burton is still active on social media promoting services that are no longer available. Be careful.