British schoolteacher braves dust and gusty winds to break a world record, pedalling from Muscat to Salalah in less than 48 hours. Hasan Al Lawati reports on the pedal push.
British national Jonathan Shubert has made history, cycling from Muscat to Salalah in less than 48 to break a world record.
The science teacher, who has been working in the Sultanate for three years, pedalled 1,300km in less than two days.
His daring adventure that successfully ended on Tuesday started in the early morning hours of Sunday.
It was cold and dark when Shubert arrived at the National Museum in Muttrah, fuelled by salt bicarbonate soda and passion to achieve the seemingly impossible.
“It makes my blood saltier so I can absorb more water so if there is more water in me when I start…it makes it easier,” he told the Y magazine.
Moments later the science teacher was on his mission to cycle from the north (Muscat) to the south (Salalah), crossing around 1,300km of cliffs and highlands.
On Tuesday, February 13, the British national successfully set a new world record, lowering the existing mark of six days to under 48 hours.
He was to take only one 10-minute break every six hours.
When I arrived at the starting point in Muttrah on Sunday (February 11), the cyclists accompanying Shubert were fixing reflective tape on their bikes.
Asked about his preparation for the adventure, Shubert said: “I am a teacher so I can’t use the time of the week. During weekends I cycle to Nizwa and explore other parts of Oman for long hours to build endurance.”
With back-to-back training on Fridays and Saturdays, in addition to “faster and harder” preparations during some week days with his Omani friends, Shubert primed for the challenge putting in 18 hours a week.
One of the main factors that concern cyclists is the weather. Before the start Shubert said he had checked with the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA). “There will be some fog in Duqm. Otherwise, it’s expected to be quite favourable. But one of the issues is the dust. After eight hours you will start to feel it in your lungs because of heavy breathing,” he explained.
According to his team members, the weather was too windy and challenging, unlike expected.
In his interview with the adventure magazine ub-cool before the trip, he had said: “I have lived and worked in Oman for three years; I love the country, I love the people. So, firstly, I’m already here; secondly, the road infrastructure and the topography of the country is amazing; and, thirdly, as a resident of Oman, I feel compelled to do something to assist with problems in the region, however small my contribution.
“Attempting such a feat in the Middle East poses added challenges that I have never had to deal with before; most notably, coping with heat and dehydration, but also the dust and its effect on my respiratory system.”
Shubert is no stranger to such challenges, though. Between March 2013 and March 2014, he embarked on an unassisted, 30,000km circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, passing through 29 countries and three continents, braving the tough tests posed by climate and terrain.