Ian Greasby Feb-08
Of course rule books like this are boring but its not boring if you get lost or left behind with no water, a broken GPS, in the desert and need help.
1. Prepare your Bike and Yourself. Check your fuel tank range, tyre condition, clutch, chain, oil/water levels, GPS etc. Don’t let yourself and your mates down. Ensure you are fit enough and that you know approximately the route / bail options. Carry Mulkhia, Residents permit, cash at all times. Print a paper copy of the bike club members and ensure this paper copy is in your bag at all times. If your GSM fails you can ask a member of the public if you can use their GSM to call your friend…..but only if their number is on paper. (Do this now!)
2. Nominate a Leader, Buddies and Groups. Ultimately the leader should assign buddies if there are weak members to ensure weak riders are not all together. A plan should be made, a briefing given. Sounds rather boring but essential everyone knows where they are going and what is expected. Decisions to bail or continue are the leaders choice and he must take into account the weakest links requirements. Generally if riding in a big group then sub-groups should be made, maximum 4 members per group. You should ride together as sub-groups to ensure no-one gets lost. If riding in a small group make sure someone in Muscat knows where you are going (leave a map of GPS file), when you will be back, and when you want them to raise an alarm.
3. WATCH THE RIDER BEHIND YOU Look over your shoulder at least every km. If you can’t do this you are riding outside your comfort level, and should therefore slow down. If you do not do this, the person behind you is fully justified in punching you later.
4. Never leave the group behind you. If you loose the guy behind you, stop and wait. He’ll probably come soon once he’s picked up his bike from the crash! If not you must return to find him. The person in front of you should come back when he stops seeing you, so don’t worry about him. When riding back always stay to the right of the tracks. This will ensure no head-on collisions. If you suspect someone may be coming back for you (after a fall) ensure you are riding to the right of all tracks too – this way there will be all the tracks between you and your saviour and you will not crash.
5. Never leave the group in front of you. If you feel the guys in front are too fast or going the wrong way, stop. They, following the rule above, will come back to you. Explain to them your thoughts. If they do not return after 10 mins, proceed slowly to the right of their tracks. They may have crashed and need you.
6. Ensure you have at least 3.0 litres of water in your camel back. You may also wish to carry extra in the form of salts in a 2nd camel bac. A 0.5 litre unopened water bottle is also a good idea to act as a reserve in case you suck your camelback dry. Think carefully how long and how far you will ride between water points. If in doubt strap water bottles to your bike. 1.0litre per hour is advised for beginners. Dates, energy bars and any non recreational drugs you may require should be carried. If you are on medicine let everyone know.
7. Carry a good spares/emergency pack. Minimum = space blanket, short nylon tow rope, pain killers, basic 1st aid kit, some nuts and bolts, fuses, tie-wraps, electrical tape. Tyre repair kit, tyre levers, inner tubes, chain breaker, mountain bike pump….knowledge of how to fix a puncture (Practice). Tools – make sure you have the tools required to fix your bike….. One day at home try fixing your bike with the tools you carry…. No point in taking spare inner tubes if you cant undo your axle bolt. Thuraya phone is a nice to have also, especially if going deep into the desert.
8. You must have a GPS with reserve batteries. The cable from your bike may fail, or your batteries fail, you must have spare ones). A compass (even a cheap tiny one) is a good idea also in case everything fails.
9. Print a map of your route, and associated waypoints so just in case things go wrong you can plan manually your way out. It’s even worth printing a few waypoints on paper so if you delete accidentally you can always put in important waypoints manually.
10. Beer and Curry. No ride is complete if beer and curry are not involved at some point. Do not even contemplate riding if neither of these will be involved at some point during the day or the night before.