Stage one is done! We arrived yesterday in a total sandstorm.
No visibility and crazy winds. No hotel, we are sleeping in haimas (tent city of burlap blankets). Packed in and cozy with lots of snoring and little personal space, but the vibe is super friendly. Yes, there are camels and sand everywhere. The wind died down for the start. Day 1, 71 km, 3h:10m and I won the stage about 7 min ahead of the next female. I felt pretty good especially in the 3 km of sand dune running that broke up the peloton at the start. The temps are heating up, but the stage was beautiful with small villages , kids cheering for us and trains of camels and goats. The only downer was riding the last 25 km alone into a strong headwind. This was our shortest stage so I will for sure have to work the roadie tactics the rest of the week. Now for a siesta and massage, then gearing up for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s stage is 103 km and we won’t have access to our gear or mechanics overnight; that means carrying everything for the night and two stages. Adventure racing skills come in handy again! I am happy about winning the the stage, but being conservative. Last year I won four stages in a row then all hell broke loose with mechanicals and illness. It’s a long journey so I am focusing on taking care of myself, my bike and riding strong but relaxed.