The Modern Bedu

It was a funny weekend with no buggying last Thursday (no wind) and yesterday we had an easterly that was gusting very severely.
It made buggying quite tricky as we don’t get easterlies that often & I was hitting the dunes all wrong. This is the first easterly that I’ve buggied in this year. Typically, the winds blow from the north & north west across my buggying patch.

I almost put this post in the bar zone because although I made a 42 km run and a lot of it on the flats around 60 kph, I had a strange encounter with a bedu.

I was driving out to my usual buggy spot to leave my car in the shade of my usual ghaf tree (mentioned in an earlier post). From a distance, I thought that someone was using my important parking place but then noticed that it was a few camels exploiting the tree’s shade. There was a herd of approx. 45 camels with a Bedu following them.

Click the photos for the description

My Mrs. asked if she could take his pic. No problem After chasing away the camels from the ghaf tree so that we could park in the shade, the Bedu came across for a chat.
He was a very friendly guy who had often seen me blatting around the desert on my buggy. I said that I would produce some paper pics of him and bring them into the desert next week. There are 3 camel farms dotted around the place & asked him if he was at a nearby farm about 3 kms away so that I could drop the pics off.
“No it’s OK I will come here and pick them up”.
“How will you know if I’m here”, I said, ‘Because if there is no wind I’ll not be here.”
“No Problem, just give me your mobile number & give me a call when you next arrive at the ghaf tree”.
I just creased up when this old Bedu whips out his mobile phone so we could swap numbers.
You can’t see the mobile too well in the pic (03). below but it is in his right hand.

I had an OBE yesterday, when I went down a hole. The jolt had my left leg jump off of the peg (even with footstrap) and the back of my leg hit the front tyre, which was spinning rapidly. It took the top layer of skin off and left a nasty burn.
I put some antiseptic on it last night and almost screamed as the pain was worse than when I acually did it.

Fast run across the sabkhas (well 60 kph is fast on that surface): (05)

Of course in my posts you normally see some dunes, so here I am on a nice one (06).

Finally, on the way back I could do a quite bit of dune bashing . My car is slightly to the right of the pic below about 12 kms away. (07)


Where does he top his phone up?

He will have a small generator at his farm (more like a shack really). I should photograph what these places look like. They are very, very primitive and the life extraordinarily basic.
He probably gets phone cards to pay for his phone usage from the owner of the camels who might drop by about once a month. Are you familiar with such cards. They are credit card size and you have to scratch them (like scratch and win cards) You then dial in the code on a specific call number and wallah! you have credit on you phone for that amount.

I keep on good terms with these people bringing them a tray of Pepsis or Cokes from time to time. I also make a point of not scaring the camels although they are pretty used to me now.

It was the first time I met one of these guys with a mobile phone and that really amused me. “Its like a giant skate park, but made for buggys. Bowls left,right and centre.”

A good description, making the analogy with a skate park.
I will use that description to name one of the areas I play in.
We used to meet in a place we named the Buggydrome. Now have a new place we call, ‘Behind the Pylons’. which isn’t very inspirational, is it?

From the start of the ‘Behind the Pylon’ meeting place we can roll about 10 kms along a string of dunes that all go in the same direction like several side by side rows of large half pipes that are similar to that snowboarder’s use. We call that the ‘Half Ppe’ based on the snow boarder’s half pipes.
The Half pipe is not for the faint hearted and you need to be an experienced buggier to manage it.
It is not without its pitfalls. You may run up the side of a pipe, get it wrong & you can be flying over the top. The other side may not be a nice hard sandy floor to smack yourself up on but a series of hard sandstone rocks that will chew you up & spit you out in pieces.
I attach a pic of such a place. This in the Half Pipe. The Half Pipe dunes that we run are up to about 3 kms wide. As you can well imagine it’s handy to know where these places are. I’ve done the Halfpipe many times now and know where these places are. Good question about descending dunes and there are several answers.

1) You actually don’t need a kite to come down because you just roll under gravity.

2) In the early days of dune buggying, I would roll under the kite and the lines would go slack, which would cause the kite to collapse. It took a lot of practice to figure out how to handle that problem. Typically, I ensure the lines stay tight to prevent collapsing. This often means descending a dune diagonally away from the kite.

3) Acceleration due to gravity down a steep dune especially if the sand is hard (say after winter rains) is akin to falling off a wall. It can give quite an adrenaline rush.
Often I have to take full advantage of the downward acceleration to have enough speed get up the next wall.

Now for a real adrenaline rush where one can soil one’s underpants particularly on a big wall say around 70 -80 feet high, I do the following:
Instead of just rolling down under gravity, I drop the kite deep into the power zone and probably get several G’s hammering down the wall. By the time I reach the floor, the speed feels abominable. At this point I only hope the transition from wall to floor isn’t going to break my buggy in half (it happened many times before building my own buggies) or worse compress my spine into a compacted fracture.
I’m very fortunate in having strong bones to be able to subject my body to wicked forces from time to time.