As-salt, Jor­dan

Bicycling WOW Rides - - Wow Rides -

last au­tumn i dis­cov­ered the vi­brant cy­cling com­mu­nity in Jor­dan, a coun­try that de­serves a place on any­one’s cy­cling bucket list. Four spots you must visit are Pe­tra (pic­tured), the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba; there’s good rid­ing near each of these lo­ca­tions. My favourite moun­tain-bike trails are near the town of As-salt, a 50-minute drive west of the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal, Am­man. The net­work was de­vel­oped off Google Earth satel­lite im­ages, and is con­stantly evolv­ing. I climbed dirt roads past lop­ing camels, an old Egyp­tian movie set, and friendly Be­douins clad in pale tu­nics and red and white scarves (kef­fiyehs) rolled up just above the brow to pro­vide pro­tec­tion from the in­tense sun. I de­scended dusty, rocky sin­gle- and dou­ble­track. Many of these trails are an­i­mal paths that split and re­con­nect, al­low­ing you to cre­ate your own loop com­bi­na­tions. They of­fer daz­zling views of the Jor­dan Rift Val­ley – a sun-bleached, arid land­scape that’s home to some the world’s most fas­ci­nat­ing an­cient sites – as well as the low­est point on earth, the Dead Sea, at around 420m be­low sea level to the south; and Is­rael to the west.

Hear­ing the haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful call to prayer echo­ing from a dis­tant mosque in the mid­dle of a ride gave me goose bumps every time. I didn’t know a sin­gle per­son in Jor­dan when I ar­rived, but I felt safe trav­el­ling alone as a woman: thanks to Face­book and an amaz­ing bike shop in Am­man called Cy­cling Jor­dan, I al­ways had some­one with whom to ride, share meals, and laugh. Given cur­rent world af­fairs, the thought of vis­it­ing Jor­dan may seem scary; but I urge you to do some re­search, check trav­eller’s ad­vi­sory sites, and make an ed­u­cated de­ci­sion for your­self. Maybe I’ll see you there. Dif­fi­culty 6

katie holden is a freeride and ad­ven­ture am­bas­sador for liv cy­cling.

Bikes aren’t al­lowed at Pe­tra’s an­cient Trea­sury, but there’s good road rid­ing nearby.

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