Monday, February 11, 2013

عمان واحدة

For those of you not fluent in Arabic, the title says "Oman One". The sun was out and blazing today for the first stage of my inaugural Tour of Oman. It was a stage for the sprinters today with an almost flat profile. The profile in the book showed it as basically one big up and down, but that was spread over 160km, so in the end, it was virtually unnoticeable. Marcel Kittel took an expected victory, while our team stayed out of trouble. The only thing we managed to do was not place anyone higher than another team's first rider, so we are now the last car in the caravan for stage two! That's not such a big deal except for the burden of having to wait forever when you go to get bottles, or the worst case scenario if you get a flat at a bad moment. We'll hope we can avoid that and change our position more to the front after tomorrow's stage. The stage tomorrow should be pretty straightforward. It will all happen in the last 30km where there are two steep climbs, with that last one cresting about 6.5km from the finish. It will likely be a smaller group for the finish but certainly not a gc selection.

I want to go back real quick to my post from yesterday. I painted a very nice picture of our hotel and the amenities/luxuries, but there are two points I failed to make after that. One, this is a far far cry from the normal situation at races. This will undoubtedly be the best hotel we will stay in all year. The majority of the year we stay at hotels equivalent to the Red Roof Inn and eat the same rice, chicken, and pasta at every meal. There is little doubt this place is amazing, but please don't get the idea that this is the usual way things go. Number two is the fact that this resort is exactly that, a resort. This place is a far stretch from the real life here in Oman. I'm not calling it a poor country or calling the people poor, I'm simply saying that life outside of these "walls" (the mountains the hotel is set into), is much different. From what I've seen, the general population don't live in fancy houses, they live in small houses or apartments and live as meagerly as possible. I think there is a very rich culture here that is much different than my American one that thrives on affluence and showing off material wealth. We rode through a village during training yesterday that was probably less than 50 cement houses/huts, each with a water cistern on the roof, goats roaming the streets and yards, and incredibly happy children running around. Life for them consists of their cultural traditions mixed with hopes of being a professional football (soccer) player, cricket player, or maybe a cyclist after the enthusiasm they showed us. I will try to take some pictures along my way, but I'm not sure my phone will do justice to anything. Plus, it is always harder when we're just driving through, rather than me being able to actually stop and take the one I want. Thanks for reading!

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