‘Bikepacking paradise’: A week of riding in the mountains of Oman

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Oman might have hosted a professional bike race since 2010 but it’s not a country that’s exactly synonymous with cycling. It’s certainly not seen as a cycling destination; not like France, Italy or Belgium are. But that didn’t stop Jonathan Kambskard-Bennett and his colleague Phillip from jetting off to the Arabian Peninsula recently to explore Oman by bike.

Avid CyclingTips readers will recall that Jonathan is no stranger to riding in interesting environments — he rode around the world a few years back, almost on a whim. In the following article Jonathan shares photos from his week long ride through the mountains of Oman.


England can be a cold and miserable place towards the end of winter, so we packed up our mountain bikes and flew to Muscat for a week of sunshine in the mountains of Oman. Our plan was rather simple; hitch a ride from the capital to Rustaq, which sits at the foothills of the Al Hajar range. From there, we would spend the next few days riding a long loop around the country’s highest peak, Jebel Shams, in search of the mountains’ dustiest dirt roads.

What we found on our way was a bikepacking paradise. The temperatures we faced were tough for a couple of Brits fresh from a long cold winter, but it was far from the inferno that Oman becomes during summer. The air cooled as we left the desert for the mountains and the nights were cold the higher we set up camp.

The route was a mixed bag. There were patches of fast riding on brand new highways between towns, but then we’d slip off onto the dirt and make our way between villages on lonely gravel tracks. Progress was excruciatingly slow at times and the most arduous gradients reduced us to long hike-a-bike sections. Still, even the most strenuous climbs were worth it for views up in those mountains …

Gear

We both rode sturdy hardtails; I was on my Marin Pine Mountain 1 and Phillip was on a On-One Inbred. We both used Apidura packs to carry our kit and weren’t travelling particularly light. Each of us had a tent, warm clothes for the nights, and cooking equipment. We strapped extra bottles to our forks for carrying extra water. It wasn’t that hot in late February, but having the additional litre of water was appreciated!

Want to read more about this adventure? You can do so at Jonathan’s website.

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