I could see Dubai! I could actually see Dubai. I don’t mean as an pin on my map this time but I was actually on a ferry on the Persian Gulf and heading in to the Port of Dubai. Was that the Burj Khalifa I could see in the distance?
It was the biggest moment of realisation so far. Don’t ask me why. It was just like I had woken up after a long sleep (which actually I had) and found myself still in the dream. What an amazing feeling. I hope I have many more to come.
You have to be confident to start a trip like this. You have to put your fears to one side and say “I AM going to do this” and you have to believe it but I guess a part of you never really believes it until you are there and doing it. Before then it’s really just talk!
|Made it to Dubai|
Now we really are on that mission and living the dream and my secret fears of not making it out of Europe a distant memory. I wanted to scream out loud, shout it from the Captains Bridge! I was already getting a lot of attention though so I decided to be cool instead (although I couldn't stop the odd squeal from escaping)!
As soon as they would allow, I went down to check on Rhonda. The crew had been great and had looked after her well, strapping her down and keeping an eye on her. They seemed to know how important she was to me and treated her with the respect she deserved. After all, she had just carried me 8,500 miles without complaint.
Once at the doc I had to leave Rhonda on the ship and get myself through customs first before being allowed to take her off and get her cleared. I was spared the bus ride though and instead, I was driven by one of the officials in his car over to passport control. As in Iran, I was led past the queues and processed quickly before being taken back, saying my goodbyes to the crew and riding over to process my Carnet. Perhaps it’s my winning smile that does it (no?). Perhaps it’s the novelty factor. Whatever it is (and I’m guessing the latter), it’s good to get out before it wears off and after an hour or so of paper work and X-rays in extreme heat, wearing my long Iranian dress and my (still squeaking) Sidi boots (a good look in my opinion), I was riding out of security and in to the car park where Martin was waiting for me with a big hug! “I made it!!!” I cried. “Welcome to Dubai” he said and off we went to his place which had air conditioning, a shower and even a good old fashioned english breakfast waiting for me!! Heaven!
|My abode in Dubai|
I met Martin 4 years ago. He came for a days off road riding with myself and Mick in Wales. The next time I saw him was when I was stuck in a rut (literally) during my first and last Enduro race in Derbyshire maybe 2 years ago. That was one of my toughest ever riding experiences! Now he was offering me his home and support for my stay in Dubai and I could not have been more grateful.
The contrast from the last few days was mind blowing. Martin’s place (actually his boss Steve owns it) is wonderfully cool with marble floors, soft pillows, beer and even a nice man called Hammed who has washed and ironed my disgusting clothes (I hope they pay him well)!
Now it is time to start the lengthy process of getting Rhonda over to India and finding a balance between cost and reliability. Flying is proving extremely expensive so far, Dhows just look too dodgy and sea freight is basically unreliable on timing. I think however, sea freight is going to have to be the way forward while I fly in to Mumbai.
|Finally I get my pint!|
Rhonda has had a thorough health check and I am pleased to say she is doing extremely well.
Her only problem is a slight weep of oil from the cam cover gasket. Otherwise she is not showing much wear. The sprockets look good for another 5,000 miles and after a full service and greasing of the wheel bearings, she is good to hit the road again.
I am doing great (seen as you ask)! The only problem is in my hands. I wake up instantly conscious of stiffness and pain in them as well as clicking knuckles! They ease off through the day though but I guess the constant vibration is not doing them much good. Either that or despite my desperate attempts to outride it, my age is catching up with me!
I am over my nerves of India now. This is mostly thanks to the offers of support I have received. Particularly from destinationunlimitedindia.com who have agreed to sponsor me throughout my ride from Mumbai to Punjab. They have arranged some great places to stay and suggested some nice routes to check out. A big thank you to Neeta and Ashutosh Malik, a brother and sister act who run the company and have been on hand for all my concerns. They have undone all the negative vibes that I had allowed to creep in. They will also be on hand as back up should anything go wrong on this leg. I cannot thank them enough. In total contrast to how I felt a week ago, I am now rearing to go and experience India!
Tonight I head to the Bikers Cafe in Dubai for a meet with some of the local bikers. I believe it is often frequented by the Sheikh himself! If I meet him I’ll drop in the fact that I am looking for a sponsor to get me to Antarctica! Wish me luck!