The living ghosts of buggiers haunt me from the past. Dubai is a place of ex-pats who use the city as a stopping off point for just a few years in the hope of improving their lifestyle and of course to make some money or simply to get some overseas experience. I have seen buggiers come & go or just give up on account of getting married then giving priority to arrival of babies. I’m not against that because I think that a man should give priority to his family.
I haven’t really done anything to promote our sport here. It’s partly due to the transient nature of the people, which is made up of 80% ex-pats but mainly because I’m egoistic insomuch that I prefer to buggy rather than spend my time teaching newbies.
Friday, 19 April was another lonely day in the desert. It doesn’t bother me that much because when I’m buggying either with some other guys or alone, I pretty much do my own thing anyhow. The Mrs. who usually accompanies me in her Razor was on business in England.
It was serenely silent on that particular day except for the wind rustling through the Ghaf tree as I prepared the Sand Shocker & donned my protective armour for the lonely trip. Once in a while, the peace was shattered by an old noisy Russian transport aircraft approaching the new air freight terminal in Jebel Ali, which is still in the Dubai Emirate but bordering close to the Abu Dhabi Emirate.
As I waited a short while for the afternoon wind, I pondered how much more bleaching from the sun my once blood red 6.5m Blade could take. It is already a ghastly light orange colour but no matter, it still performs well & what the hell; it’s only me that has to look at it.
It was blowing a North Easterly, which meant a lot of short tacks heading upwind mostly on the sabkhas. It is a standard practice of mine to head upwind when starting out on a run because it makes the return journey much easier especially if the wind begins to ease off. The tacks in a North Easterly are about a kilometer long. The dunes become a little problematic but I have learnt to position myself so that I can run them with a cross wind as much as possible. I make hardly any forward progress in the dunes but nevertheless I still enjoyed twisting, climbing & dropping down in them. They always present some lively challenges.
As the cooler winter period having said goodbye it has started to warm up a little and with the temperature just over 40ºC, I made a serious effort not to drop the kite. There is nothing more tiring when buggying than having to walk the 40 m lines up & down soft dunes to reposition the kite in order to launch it in hot weather. Well I didn’t suffer this problem & managed successfully to keep the kite flying.
On lonely runs, one of my biggest concerns is that I don’t incur a malfunction such as a puncture. Issues like that turn around in my mind, particularly when I’m 15 kms away from my car. The other concern I have is if the wind speed increases. I wasn’t too bothered as I had my 4.9m Blade along with my 3 litre Camelbak of water fitting nicely in the excellent bag supplied by Buggybags, UK.
I saw no people, no gazelles, no Oryx, no lizards, just the odd camel here& there that are normally as common as flies buzzing around a piece of fresh dog poo on a warm English sunny day.
What made the run lonelier; well more ominous really was that it was overcast. This is quite unusual because 99% of the time I buggy under a light blue almost white cloudless sky. I even felt about 3 or 4 drops of rain at one point. I confirmed this later by seeing speckles where rain drops had bounced off the dust on my car.
After some time I became anxious about the wind slowly easing off & turned around. During the return run I came across the three tracks that my BF’s had made on my outward journey. Strangely enough these seemed quite welcoming, heralding the imminent success of a trip without incident.
On reaching the Ghaf tree, my GPS showed that I covered 63.1 kms, which was pretty average for 2½ hours non-stop buggying in the desert. Well not quite true because I did stop for a pee at one point but I’m sure you don’t need to hear about that.
I wrote the above on the morning after the lonely session and then headed out to enjoy the loneliness of desert buggying again. It was just as much fun except that my Saturday’s round trip stretched to 74.9 kms.
Sand Yeti (Dubai)