10:45 AM: We meet Josh (above left, seated), Jerry aka Jerry Balloch (above left, standing) a well known freelance commercial and editorial photographer living/working in Dubai, and Matt from Adventure HQ (above right) at the start.
10:45–10:46 AM: After locating Main Scooter Guy halfway through a packaged sandwich in some shade just beyond the start line where the photo moto and course official motos typically line-up their bikes, I make my case for a second day on the back of a bike so that Matteo and I may ride again! Main Scooter Guy smiles before saying no, absolutely not.
10:46–11:21 AM: We make a plan to meet back at Jerry’s Range Rover 10 minutes before the start, at which time we will leave with the pre-caravan in an attempt to drive the course in the sweet spot (calm before the storm) between the rolling enclosure in front and the peloton in back, something which in theory (based on anecdotal evidence collected in Europe and America) should be fairly straightforward. In the meantime, we all have free time for wandering, lurking, interviewing, photoshooting, additional coffeeing (Nero Cafe), shuffling, observing, sunburning, mindless staring at walls/sky/feet and to talk Emirati women into portraits (see below).
11:22 –12:25 PM: We leave with the pre-caravan. So far so good. We drive past two Sheik Palaces on the way to a freeway off-ramp near the airport. After photographing the peloton as they pass we leave the safety of the course—in every direction on every road that isn’t the course, there is a sea of parking lot-style gridlock—to leapfrog the peloton and re-enter the sweet spot. On the way up the freeway, we pass several large fully lifted Ford and Chevy pickups with with oversized wheels and various other WT-bling like roll cages, flood lights, snorkels, etc. I learn about Arabian Rednecks and dune bashing and why the citizens of Dubai need towing power. We also pass Dragon Mart, one of the largest semi-permanent tented markets in the Middle East, and which when seen from the sky resembles a dragon. This sparks a heated conversation about how in the UAE they really like to “make shit that looks like shit” when seen from the from the inside of your private jet or one of your helicopters. For example:
- World Islands is an artificial archipelago synecdoche of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located 4.0 kilometres (2.5 mi) off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai. The World’s developer is Nakheel Properties, and the project was originally conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
- Palm Islands are two artificial islands in Dubai, United Arab Emirates built in the shape of palm trees. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah and the Palm Jebel Ali.
- The YAS Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi which when seen from above looks like “a cock and balls.” Side Note: This example might be unintentional, there’s no way to know really.
- The dude who spelled his son’s name in “trenches” in the sand in the desert big enough that it was legible from thousands of feet above—his sons name is H-a-s-s-e-n Hassen.
- And the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel shaped like a sail.
12:26 PM: Our re-entry is blocked. In fact, as we make our way through stopped cars and traffic to the point of entry, we find the Director of RCS (the race organization managing the Dubai Tour) in a skirmish with an Obstruction Oriented Police Officer—OOPO. Behind him are several Team Cars and VIP-types. We are late to the party. The Director of the RCS, an Italian, is talking to an interpreter (in person) and someone on his mobile at the same time. He’s also pacing and doing the pinched finger hand shake thing at the ground near the OOPO’s feet. The interpreter is pleading with the OOPO, the OOPO is unyielding. Several minutes go by. The UAE national team Team Car is allowed to pass, everyone else is not. Finally the RCS director hands the OOPO his phone. The OOPO is not happy about taking the phone but he does, though in the process he becomes a Petulant Police Officer—PPO. The conversation does not go well for the PPO, after some pacing and yelling and head shaking, the PPO hands the phone back to the RCS director. The PPO doesn’t say anything, he just jerks his head in the direction of the Desired Re-entry Point—DRP. He doesn’t move his PPO car, or apologize, or laugh, or even verbally consent to our collective passage. Just the head jerk.
12:53PM: The plan now is to drive the course 40km or so up the road to the Al-Madam Round About, where will stop, let the peloton pass, photograph the passing peloton, deviate from the course, take the back way which is actually the front way to Hatta, observe the pre-finish finish line in the township of Hatta, backtrack the course into the mountains, park on the top of the second climb which climb is called Generator Hill, wait for the peloton to pass, photograph the race for the last time today.