Today I decided to give Emily a birthday treat by setting the challenge of climbing 1,600 meters from the Dead Sea to Madaba; achievable on paper. Much, much tougher in reality when faced with a 40km climb that was consistently steeper than anything we have tackled on this trip so far. Throw in the blazing sun, no shade, 42 degrees on the thermometer and nowhere to fill our bottles (other than the 4 liters each we’d brought with us) and it made for a very, very tough day.
We had some entertainment, however, when a passing motorist did a U-turn to join us for the climb. He drove next to us, urging us to stop and get in or to grab the side of the car for a pull. When we refused he flicked through the radio channels and, with windows down, our climbing was accompanied by an eclectic mix of music, which included Arabic pop songs, stirring classical music, iconic Eye of the Tiger and shouts of “you can do it” as he crawled along next to us.
Further up the mountain, we stopped for a breather and he offered us biscuits and, had I not been around, I’m certain he would have asked for Emily’s hand in marriage.
We continued our struggle up the mountain. We knocked back a few rehydration sachets. It was tough and we both struggled. Massively.
About two thirds of the way up another car pulled over and out came a gent who offered us water (which we gratefully accepted) and I tried an Arabic coffee that he offered me (tasted of cardamom). He warmly welcomed us to Jordan and asked we posed for a photo at his request.
Nearly 6 hours later at an average speed of just 8km per hour, we completed our 1,600m climb that started from 395 meters below sea level and are now in Madaba. Emily has certainly earned her birthday drink tonight!
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, please donate to World Bicycle Relief. Every penny goes to the great work the charity does in Africa – not to fund our expedition in any way.