Feeling much better and really excited to start the journey back, I set off at 6pm, just as the sun was finally disappearing. I cycled for an hour along the Shamal road until I reached the turn off for Fuwairit, a popular beach destination. Unfortunately, this too was a single track road and by now it was pitch dark so I angled my headlight to try and watch for any potholes. When the drivers came towards me, their lights blinded me, so I didn't go too far before I settled on a place to stop just off the road.
With every 30 minute stretch, I became more and more desperate for the stop, my buttocks screaming in pain and my back and legs tightening, and with each stop, a routine..... check my mileage, location, time, drink laban, eat figs or dates, stretch.
After about 4 hours, the routine had switched to scream as I lifted my buttocks off the saddle, stretch, pray, drink and wonder if I could make it home. I was checking in with a friend who stayed awake in case I got into trouble but I was determined not to give up, whatever the pain.
During one stop, the Police pulled up beside me....."mishkela?".... meaning "problem?".... "La.... kol tamam" I replied.... "No.....everything is OK". They were very reassuring and stuck around until they saw that I could ride safely and get on my way...... at least that's how I interpreted it. The Police were not the only ones to stop.... a guy in a big red pick up pulled over in front of me.... unfortunately he clearly wanted to chat which was absolutely the last thing on my mind at 2.30am, feeling nauseous and my buttocks in shreds. He'd seen me cycling in the morning at around 6am and couldn't believe I was still on the road! He offered to put my bike in the back of his truck and give me a lift. As tempting as it was.......
As I walked into the lobby, I glanced at my watch and realised that I had made it back exactly 24 hours after leaving, after a round trip of 276kms. Battered and bruised but just about in one piece.