The sultanate has successfully hosted the world class Tour of Oman and the demanding Frontier Epic Mountain Bike Race for years.
The Oman race is the brainchild of BikingMan, a race promotion organisation based in France headed by Axel Carion.
In 2015, BikingMan founders, Axel Carion and Leticia Perotta rode across South America in six months. During their nearly 13,700km bike packing journey into some of the most remote regions, they had the experience of a lifetime. When they returned home, they wanted to share their experience with others. In 2016, they launched the very successful IncaDivide bike packing race set in Peru and Ecuador.
Speaking to Muscat Daily , Axel Carion, CEO of BikingMan, said that the aim of BikingMan races is to bring athletes to spectacular places around the world. Andreas Fabricius, the co-organiser of Oman race has lived in the Middle East for the last seven years and had the opportunity to explore Oman several times, Carion said.
“Convinced of the potential with its stunning landscapes, he persuaded me to make a bicycle reconnaissance to build an ultra bike packing event here. After the recce, we completed a bicycle loop in May this year and were surprised of the road quality, how welcoming Omani people were and how stunning the cycling experience is in Oman.”
Talking about the race format, Carion said, “Every athlete can ride at his own speed but has to cover a minimum of 200km per day and complete the race within five days. Most importantly, no support cars are allowed. The athletes must carry their own food, supplies, repairs and ride self-supported. This is pure survival adventure. Every athlete is equipped with a GPS tracking system so that friends, family and fans can follow his live progress.”
From criss-crossing the Al Hajar Mountains, the spectacular Jebel Shams pass, the Sharqiyah Sands and the Arabian seaside roads, the highlight of the race will definitely be the Jebel Shams climb, feels Carion. “Which is absolutely brutal but stunning. Some athletes will reach it the first day of the race after 300-320km.”
Initially, the race was launched with 50 participants in mind, but with the response so far the organisers have increased it to 100. “We managed to gather 50 athletes, one month after opening the registrations late September. We increased the slots as more people were asking to join the inaugural edition of BikingMan Oman.”
Boasting of athletes from 19 countries so far, Carion said they have some big names as well in the fray. “We have a British Shusana Pillinger, who was the first woman to complete one of the hardest cycling race on the planet: the Race Across America. Rodney Soncco, from Peru, has won the IncaDivide race, the toughest bike packing race on the planet. We also have Guinness world record holders of ultra long distance cycling, ex professional cyclists, Ironman athletes…the competition will be strong.”
The race will have two base camps one at the Jebel Shams Resort and other in Bidiyah, where racers will find tents to rest/sleep and have food. The race will start in Barka and end at Bahri Road in Muttrah.
BikingMan Oman is part of the BikingMan race series. It has four races in 2018. Oman, Corsica (Europe) in April, Peru in July and the last one in Asia.