Thursday, August 6, 2009

100 Laps of Tallil Ali Air Base

Sometime between now and Saturday, I will have ridden 100 laps of Tallil Ali Air Base. I rode the perimeter as soon as my bike got here in the beginning of May. Then I rode almost every day since, with a long break while I was home on leave in June. It's a little hard to count exactly from my mileage because I ride the perimeter road every day except when the worst sandstorms prevent me. I think I have missed three or four days at the most. Many days I ride two laps (including today) and some days I have ridden three laps.

The post is rectangular and has a well-guarded perimeter fence which I never get within 100 meters of and sometimes I am hundreds of yards away. I usually ride counter clockwise because the wind, as in Pennsylvania, is usually out of the west and riding counterclockwise gives me a tail wind on the long, deserted stretch on the southside.

I start out riding 1/3-mile on dirt and stones to get out of the housing area and then turn squarely into the wind. In about a mile I turn south and have the wind at my side for another mile and a half. The road then sweeps left and I start going fast. I have to slow down a half-mile later because the road disappears for a quarter mile in sand and rippled pavement: not too bad on the mountain bike but really rough on the road bike. Then I get more almost three miles of tail wind, another side wind then a final two miles of bad headwind.

That loop is 10.2 miles. I add an extra half mile sometimes and ride a little further south near the rifle range. I can also cut a mile off by taking a dirt shortcut--only on the dirt bike.

The short loop with extra dirt would have been the race course.

If I keep riding as I am now by the time we leave I may have circled Tallil Ali almost 300 times!! But I am quite happy riding the same route week after week, so it's almost like home knowing the road this well. At home, my main ride is the "daily ride" with Scott Haverstick and whoever else shows up. The route never changes. I can't wait to be back.

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