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.