I tried the biking….

Beidha (Little Petra) and Wadi Musa, Jordan

From Biking in Wadi Musa

I woke up this morning remembering the dog, Thomas, that belonged to my first host family in Switzerland. I was staying in the bedroom of the oldest son, Niklaus, who was studying in Philadelphia, and along with the bedroom I inherited his responsibilities, including taking Thomas for a run every day after school by bike. While Niklaus was a pretty typical Swiss cyclist who frequently biked the 30k to school and back, I was not. More often than not, Thomas took me for a run, until such time as I crashed the bike and Thomas could escape to do what he loved best, chase cows. After a number of bloody knees, my host mother said to me, “Maryah, I have never seen a girl your age who was so bad on a bicycle!” I’ve barely been on a bike in the decade since. This memory was not an auspicious start to the day of my first biking excursion with Tareef Cycling Club of Amman!

I gathered my determination and went anyway, and I’m so glad I did!

In the bus on the way down, Megan reassured me that the trip had been labeled “moderate” on Facebook, and if all else failed, I could always ride in the backup bus. I made some great new friends, including Aktham, who does exactly the kind of work with Iraqi refugees that I would like to be doing, and offered to help me find a similar job for myself. (He also DJs at my favorite radio station, Mood FM, which our Filipina manicurist friend Angie always turns up loud for Megan and I at the salon.)

When we got to Wadi Musa in the south of Jordan, we made a brief incursion into Beidha, aka “Little Petra,” while the bikes were unloaded, and then we were off. For about the first 90 seconds, I felt pretty confident, but then there was just the slightest long incline, and by the top of it, I couldn’t remember why I thought this trip was a good idea, anyway. Those of you who know me well are probably wondering the same thing. (It was because of tomorrow’s hiking in Wadi Araba, where I’ve long wanted to go but have never been, because it’s virtually impossible without my own wheels!) The club members, particularly the ones who are professional cyclists, were very patient and encouraging, and they convinced me to do the long downhill portion. But when we turned off the paved road at the Wadi Musa Water Reclamation Project, a startling patch of green in the mostly red and brown mountains, the ride turned sharply uphill, and I took to the pickup! My host mother was right about my bike riding abilities back then, and it’s probably more true now, out of shape as I am! And, to my credit, most of the cyclists agreed that this was one of the most difficult excursions they’d done to date in the club.

There are distinct advantages to riding in the bed of the rescue truck, though. You really get to see the scenery that way, putzing along at the pace of the slowest cyclist, and you don’t have to stop to take pictures along the way. Unfortunately, my old-fashioned camera hasn’t fared well in the desert this time, with the heat of our trips this past summer washing out all my film beyond what I know how to fix with Photoshop, so my pictures didn’t come out nearly as well as other people’s. But the scenery was simply breathtaking, especially when we got to the overlook of Wadi Araba at the top of the mountain!

From Biking in Wadi Musa

There are many more pictures of the two days of biking and hiking by Jad.

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