It’s been a year or so that I haven’t been able to ride for various reasons, and I badly longed to ride again. We all think we know the meaning of freedom – but to put it differently, we don’t really know the meaning of freedom until we miss it. For me being on the road on two wheels is freedom of the soul.
Riding a bike is an extraordinary feeling that I discovered three years back, and to ride a Harley-Davidson is beyond extraordinary because you ride with a family. After many rides in the region, from Jordan to Dubai, and to the new world in Miami, that family has proven to me that the bikers’ community is the most respectful experience thing you can experience on the road.
That said, imagine my reaction when I got invited to be the first to try the latest 2014 H-D models. Yes baby, I’m not joking! It was an invitation to be the first in the region try these bikes, before they even hit any of the dealerships. The invitation said: You are invited to experience Project Rushmore, Sportster: 1200CB, Dyna: The new redesigned Fatbob, Softail: Breakout and Heritage Classic, Touring: Ultra Limited & Road King Classic, V-Rod: Muscle and A Trike.
It was a two-day road trip across seven cities (Dubai, Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, and Sharjah) with 10 riders, an adventure through roads, mountains, mud and rain. Two riders traveling on one bike had an especially exceptional adventure, and I was lucky to be one of these two.
WARNING!! This is a long story, and it’s not worth reading unless you want to know how I got lost in the desert with no fuel, no phone, no route, and no means of communication while stuck in the middle of nowhere. If you’re interested in such a story, read on!
In the early morning the sky is blue, and the riders gathered at the hotel lobby. During the meeting one my favorite hardcore H-D riders he told me he was looking for an adventure, and for me that was just like another ride. We finished the briefing session and hit the road. I wish I had words to describe my sensation when I was finally on the road again!
8:30 AM: We left the H-D Mena offices in JLT, going towards the famous Bab Al Shams road to the UAE. The bikers were capturing the moments, snapping photos and filming, while I was controlling my cameras installed on board with my little iPhone and enjoying the lovely weather and the amazing blue sky.
9:30AM: We passed Bab Al Shams, and suddenly I realized that I had lost my iPhone. I was distraught and left the convoy alone, going to search for it frantically – with no luck.
10:00AM: After re-joining the troop I located my iPhone through the “Find my iPhone” feature, and left the convoy again with the one and only Claude Abry, going back to get a hold of my iPhone (which now had a broken screen). With the iPhone safely with me again we continued to ride freely towards our friends, who were an hour away from us by then.
We enjoyed the long straight road ahead, with the desert on our left and right, the winds lifting little grains of sand and covering the asphalt with them. Watching these magnificent, rare scenes that we don’t get to see in our day lives, our Trike was flying, and the soul was set free.
ALERT! As we reached the end of the road, and followed the Al Ain sign (which in fact didn’t exist but we had assumed it was there), Claude pointed his finger towards the dashboard, indicating to me that it was 17km to empty – meaning we were running out of fuel! Oh, my bad! We kept riding in hopes of finding a gas station that we knew was supposed to be on the road but after a few minutes we found ourselves in the middle of the desert, with no phone signals, no cars anywhere, not even camels – it was just us and the blue sky. Claude’s playlist was playing great music in harmony with the desert silence, and each one of us was filled with positive energy, enjoying the ride despite losing hope of finding a gas station. This is when we start daydreaming. I forget about my camera, and thought, what’s next? Are we sleeping in the desert alone tonight? Are we going to find help? Are we on the wrong route? Are we missing the lovely ride with the rest of the guys? Amid these thoughts we snapped back to reality, seeing a white angel in the shape of a Landcruiser driven by Abou Rachid. The local Emirati found us just 100 meters before the bike completely ran out of fuel and this gentlemen (a rare type these days) took us to his farm, offered us water and food and even brought us fuel, before we each continued on our journeys. I hope to meet Abou Rachid again one day and to be able to return the huge favor.
12:00AM: With a tank half full, we got in touch with our crew again, and found out they were just 7 miles away from where we were. Claude flew, as always with positive energy, and we reached the guys, who were at the gas station waiting for us. They were smiling even before finding out all these details of our experience.
12:35PM: It was time to change bikes! A Touring was waiting for me to hit the road to Fujairah, our next stop. We saw amazing scenery, greenery and mountain views – I never expected such remarkable scenery.
1:30PM: We stopped for lunch, and we took the opportunity to have a photo shoot with the great Charles Cremona, as well as to film some still shots of the amazing bikes we were riding.
2:38PM: It was time to set off again to our final destination for the first day, the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. This time I was going down the road from the top of the hill on the Dyna newly redesigned Fat Bob. Oh yea babt – this is the bike we would ride all the way down, and feel the power, force, and the thrill of the ride. Two wheels that are well-balanced are definitely better than four wheels. And did I mention Claude’s nickname is “Fat Bob”? He went crazy on this bike, playing with it from right to left, only touching one finger on the handling bar. We passed through more beautiful landscapes, with did some more street life photography.
5:12PM: We reached our destination, the renowned Waldorf Astoria, where we (and the bikes) were set to rest before we rode off in the morning. We stayed at the amazing hotel suites, had a warm family dinner, and only a little sleep. I woke up again at 5:0 0AM to be able to take some more photos of the bike details before the sun came up.
6:30AM: The sun rose and even shone beautifully for few minutes before two huge grey clouds closed the curtain. The show ended right there. The heavy rains and wind meant no ride for the day. Heading back to the breakfast room, everybody was discussing the situation but nobody knew exactly what was going to happen. Finally the big boss said we had to wait till 9:30AM to see if it stops raining and is clear enough to go riding back, otherwise we would be driving back. All I saw was sad faces, drama and disappointment – it was the worst possible news for everybody who had traveled from around the region to experience the new 2014 models and have an adventure of a lifetime.
9:00AM: Good news! The rain had stopped, the sky was clear, and the roads were almost dry. We rode off again, and the smiles returned to everybody’s faces. We prepared for the wet weather, putting on our special waterproof Harley-Davidson clothes, and had a special briefing by the marshals before hitting the road – on a shorter course than originally planed but still passing through the three emirates, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, and Sharjah.
9:35AM: We enjoyed the Hamra Fort internal roads with their golf course views, and beautiful architecture. Continuing to the main road while I was Instagraming, suddenly the rain came back, and this time it was truly raining. Wow, what a feeling! The adrenaline rush – an overdose of adrenaline – and I was exhilarated, relishing in the high waves from the ocean, the wet road, and the thrilling ride. It kept raining for a while as we had to stop for gas, and then as we pulled into Dubai, it was dry again.
12:22PM: We reach our end point, back safely to the Harley-Davidson MENA offices in JLT. It was a real adventure, a completely different way to try the all-new 2014 H-D models. Project Rushmore was defiantly an extraordinary experience.
From a perfect blue sky, to being lost in the middle of the desert with no water left to drink or fuel in the tank, to enjoying the amazing redesigned Fat Bob, and then wake up on a rainy morning for a drizzling dazzling ride, this was truly a special adventure. I feel fortunate and blessed to have had all these things happen to me, as it gave me a unique story to tell, as well as a rare way to try the 2014 Harley-Davidson bikes. The experience was made even more special ride by a true family that I would like to thank for the great moments we spent together. The story ends here, but I’ll let you enjoy the exceptional moments captured on video and in the photos below.
More photos captured by the great photographer friend Charles Cremona.
Many thanks goes to all who were in the ride, who organised the special ride, and special thanks goes to Elsa, Claude, Michelle and Joe who made this adventurous ride happen with all the safety, fun, and great memories.