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Goodbye Again, Jackson

The following day, we spent most of our time working on correspondence for you, dear reader. We lounged around Sid’s place, hacking away on our computers, and doing a fair amount of schtick revolving around The Pixies’ tune “Hey.”

When Sid arrived home from work, he recommended that we visit a certain Arabic restaurant near the Dubai Creek that he was particularly fond of. Since we had hitherto not discovered anything that Sid was fond of that did not also strike our fancy, we agreed.

It was no surprise that the restaurant was incredible. And we feasted into the night on pastes, falafel, lentil soup, and a plate of mixed grilled meats. We then opened up the laptop and spent a few hours doing trivia, while we smoked Hookah.

It was Jackson’s last night with us in the Gulf, and all concerned were quite sad to see him go. As we sipped on minty lime drinks and chatted about financial depravities, I felt my heart grow heavy. It was so nice to have Jackson along on the trip. He added such a delightful spice to our daily lives.

The next morning Claudia and I awoke to find the apartment empty, and Jackson and Scott downstairs hard at work packing up his Speed TR for the journey home. For a moment, glancing down at our watches, we feared that we had overslept Jackson’s departure. So we were relieved when Jackson and Scott came back upstairs. By then, however, it was already well past time for Jackson to catch a cab. It was a hurried but heartfelt goodbye.

And then there were three.

We figured: what better way to mourn the departure of the illustrious Jackson than to go on a wheel? So we did exactly that. Claudia, Scott, and I unfolded the remaining three Dahons and headed out into Dubai.

Outside Sid’s apartment, in his general neighborhood, there were wide pedestrian ways, which made for easy wheeling. But soon they began to dissolve, and we were forced onto the road itself.

We then realized this was to be no wheel for beginners. The traffic was fast, and none too used to having cycles on the roads. All the sidewalks appeared to be only partially constructed so, Mario-Carting (as AsiaWheeling refers to cycling on the sidewalks) was not an option. So we rode fast, amidst the traffic, and trusted in our ability to signal our intent and the quality of our Vietnamese motorcycle helmets.

We were heading toward the main street of Dubai, an eight-lane, skyscraper-lined behemoth, by the name of Sheikh Zayed Road. It was an easy landmark, since it loomed, gigantic, over all the city. Once we finally made it there, the traffic was almost too intense for wheeling. We stuck to the side streets and only entered the main torrent when it was absolutely necessary.

Eventually we decided our next waypoint should be the ocean, so we hoisted the cycles up and scrambled over a large pedestrian crossover, plunking them down on the other side,  and wheeling on, now perpendicular to the Sheikh Zayed Road. We were heading toward a giant, fluttering, UAE flag that we knew was near the seaside.

Part way down the gravelly drive, we stopped to fill up our tires with the Speed TR’s in-seat pumps. When I opened mine up, a small stream of sand fell out of it. I was worried for a moment that the sand may have gone deeper as well, ruining the pump, but thankfully that was not the case.

Tires well pressurized once again, we wheeled on, into a very expatriate neighborhood. We were beginning to be able to smell the sea, so we knew we were close. We left the residential zone, and crossed a large empty gravel lot toward a huge Iranian hospital. Outside of the Iranian hospital, we were pulling an uber-lichtenstein when Claudia’s pedal fell off into the street. There were some moments of confusion and anxiety as we dashed into traffic to retrieve it before some Lamborghini or Land Rover crushed it. Unlike our Speed TRs, Claudia’s Speed D7 did not have detachable pedals, hers instead folded up against the cycle, so the pedal falling off was something to be alarmed about.

Luckily, the repair required no tools, just some careful manipulation of springs and bending and snapping back into place of plastic bits. The Iranians walking in and out of the hospital paused, forming a small crowd around us, quietly looking on as we performed bike surgery.

Then we were wheeling again. Soon we came upon a large beach, where a paved path led out onto a kind of jetty.

We decided to wheel out to the end of the jetty and take in the view, which was magnificent. There we met a group of young men whom we decided not to let ride the cycles. Normally on AsiaWheeling we are more than happy to indulge locals who are interested in tasting the raw freedom of the Speed TR themselves. For one reason or another, these chaps gave us a bad feeling, and we decided to decline. So we snapped a quick picture and split.

From there we followed the directions of this sign:

And we wheeled the one or two kilometer bike path that runs along the beach. It was a nice gesture by the Emerate of Dubai toward wheelers, but was far too short to provide anything other than a mild whetting of one’s appetite for cycling.

Claudia’s stomach had begun to hurt during the ride, so we decided to call the wheel. From there, we headed back toward Sid’s place, using the giant towering Burj Khalifa as a navigational tool. The sun was dipping low, and traffic was picking up as we pulled onto a great bridge arching over the Sheikh Zayed Road. The ride was high voltage but beautiful. From up on the bridge, we could see all the architecture of Dubai laid out around us, colored gold by the setting sun. It was exhilarating, dampened only slightly by the exhaust I was breathing at the time.

Back at Sid’s we began packing up our things for tomorrow’s flight to Jordon. The Gulf had been a magical place, in no small part due to great people, like Sid and Jackson, who helped us to make it so magical.

That evening, Sid opened a bottle of wine (quite the luxury here in the Gulf), and we lounged around the kitchen discussing Life, The Universe, and AsiaWheeling. That evening, Sid treated us to a meal at the restaurant of the hotel downstairs. It was a nightly theme restaurant, with tonight’s theme being Africa. For one reason or another, AsiaWheeling was most interested in the extensive salad bar at the place. It had been quite some time since, I guess, we’d eaten raw greens, and we reveled in the opportunity.

Before retiring for the night, we managed to do a little work on the web, though not before encountering a few blocked sites to our surprise with the following warning with a woman wearing a Batoola:

We crawled into bed that evening, not knowing quite what the rest of the Middle East would hold, but if the Gulf was any indication, it would be incredible.


  1. Jackson | September 16th, 2010 | 10:54 am

    This was a fantastic Chapter to the year. Thanks all.

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