Oman is perfect for cycling. There are so many roads with just few cars and no trucks and also a lot of unpaved roads you can use with the cycle
Kaushalendra Singh –
SALALAH, FEB. 24 –
This woman from Germany is a passionate cyclist. She has pedalled more than 10,000 km covering tough terrains of Italy, Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. Besides them she has many other small trips in her own country which run into some thousands of kilometres but she does not count them because “they were really too small to be counted.”
Spotted in Salalah’s Itin area where she was found struggling to scale the steep mountain road, Anja Merk loves cycling from the core of her heart. So much so that she has taken a sabbatical of six months to roam around as much as possible on her Cupe Mountain Bike.
She chose to be in Salalah this time around after listening a lot about this place. She chose to go to Tehran first then to Dubai, Musandam, Shinas, Sur, Muscat and ended her this leg of cycling in Salalah on Friday after covering a total of 6,500 km.
In an interview with Observer, Anja gave elaborate details of her journey. “I started my latest cycling trip in August 2016 from Tehran in Iran and scaled the highest mountain of Iran, Mount Damavand. Came down to the plains to find it too hot and humid, I went back on the mountain again. I remained a couple of days in Iran and took a ferry to Dubai.”
“I started Oman trip in Musandam. After touring beautiful Musandam I took a ferry to Shinas. From there I went to the mountains, up to the plateau of Jabal Shams (I have to admit, that for the last part I hired a car, because I already had pushed my bike for 3 hours), went to Ibri, Rustaq, Al Hamra, took the road up from Al Hamra and down through Hat to Wadi Bani Awf. I also visited Bahla and Jabrin. Went to Nakhl and back to the coast to Muscat, all the way east to Sur and then came down the coast to Salalah. Saw the baobabs in Wadi Hinna, went to Mughsayl Beach. Earlier, I also went to Masirah and Ras Madrakah,” she said.
Commenting on Oman’s cycling strength, Anja said: “Oman is perfect for cycling. There are so many roads with just few cars and no trucks and also a lot of unpaved roads you can use with the cycle. Also some passages are very steep, the view you have from the top makes all the effort worthwhile. The car drivers are very careful, making wide circles around you, but it’s always good to be careful. I have a rearview mirror, which really helps.”
“Salalah city it is not very nice for cycling, since there are so many trucks around. The interiors, however, are good for cycling. The good thing in Salalah and all Oman is that there is a hard shoulder, so it is like a bike path in Germany. You can get food and drink in every little town and people are very friendly and helpful. A lot of times, drivers stopped to give me water or fruits.” She said.
An employee in BMW in Germany, Anja started her first cycling trip in Italy in 2012. She loves cycling because it helps keep her fit and serves her purpose of meeting people and learn more about the country. “You can stop whenever you want and take nice pictures. Since I love to take pictures, this is very important to me.”
She remembers her longest one-day journey of 124 km in Iran when she had to rush to extend her visa. Next was in Oman during this trip when she covered 104 km. “The shortest was about 12 km, I just went from one nice beach to the other. Usually I cycle around 50 to 100 km per day, depending on how steep the road is and in which direction the wind blows.”
“It is just my stubborn mind behind this passion and if I have a plan, I want to fulfil it no matter what. Sometimes you don’t want to go on and just take the next flight home and you are wondering, why you are doing all this, but then something nice happens or you see some beautiful landscape, meet friendly people and then you know why you did this or that strenuous mountain, going through sandstorms (like it happened to me on my way here), going through rain and wind. It’s the beauty of nature and the country you are travelling that makes it all worthwhile,” she said in support of her passion.
Born in Munich, Anja, 49, remembers her camping in Greece along with her parents when she was a child. “So maybe that’s why I love travelling like this,” she said.
Anja wants to keep on her cycling as much as possible. She wants to explore Madagascar one day as she endorsed Salalah surrounding, especially the mountains as “really wonderful.”