A couple of summers ago, I accompanied Hans Rey and Dave Watson to the Middle East in search of mountain bike terrain and trails in the country of Jordan. Seeing how there was very little intel to base our journey on, we simply found a good guide that knew the country inside and out, and hopefully point us in the right direction for a journey on two wheels.

Landing in the capital city of Amman, it was quickly apparent that bicycles were not an everyday form of transportation…it was a plethora of buses, taxis, personal vehicles and humans on foot. Our guide, Yamaan Safady, promised we’d find plenty of suitable terrain even with the lack of bicycles rolling through the big city.

Before branching out from our arrival destination, we took a quick tour through the Citadel and Roman Theatre. This would be our first taste of the significant archeological treasures that lie within the country of Jordan.

Seeing how it would be impossible to ride a bicycle to and from every destination, we loaded up the bus with all camera gear, bikes and persons and began the journey. Our first stop would be the ancient ruins in Jerash, about four hours from Amman. Upon arrival we started the process of ‘sight seeing,’ only we’d be pedaling through, around and on the two thousand year old structures. I’m sure in many other countries this would be completely illegal and no one of authority would ever give us permission. Since we had our guide Yamaan with us to talk the talk, it was no problem.

From Jerash we continued onward visiting Dana Village, Feynan Ecolodge, Little Petra, Wadi Mujib, Wadi Rum, Petra and the Zikra Initiative.

As we toured each location it became apparent there was zero trail structure within the country of Jordan, but it was wide open to treat the terrain as we saw fit with day rides, hiking lines and traversing across massive rock structures, producing plenty of material for the TV show Hans was involved with.

Every stop had it’s fair share of radness…the Dead Sea, which is thirty-three percent salt, allows you to float unassisted and has long been considered to contain healing powers. Our pedal up Wadi Mujib was immediately followed by a two-hour hike downstream through a narrow canyon, bringing us back to the starting point…waterfall rappel included.

Visiting the old city of Dana Village saw us bear witness to an abandoned civilization coming back to life after hundreds of years of vacancy. The Feynan Ecolodge was exactly that, one hundred percent green and striving. Little Petra then gave us a taste of what we’d find at Petra; two thousand year old rock carvings that even under today’s technology, seem impossible to build and last over twenty centuries.

To cap off the mission, we stayed the night under the stars in traditional Bedouin housing, with an amazing meal cooked underground, sending us off to a good night’s rest in anticipation of the wonderful mountain biking the next day. The final pedal would be through Wadi Rum, where coincidently, Laurence of Arabia was filmed, and you could see good reason why…gigantic rock structures for as far as the eye could see. We feasted our lenses on Dave and Hans crossing rock bridges, pointing it down skinny rock formations and enjoying every second of it.

To finish off the mission we made a stop in Aqaba for a day’s swim in the Red Sea, and then began the journey northward back to Amman. In summing up this amazing journey, it was a combination of sightseeing and exploration by bicycle…opening our eyes to civilizations of the past and the many treasures our planet holds. Blotto

Dean Blotto Gray

About Dean Blotto Gray

Snowboarding becomes a culture only when the experience is shared and Dean Blotto Gray is a photographer dedicated to sharing the snowboard experience. For over 250 days each year, for the past 13 years, Gray has been documenting the snowboarding life. In doing so, he has become one of the most inexhaustible photographers the young sport has yet seen. 
Indeed, the volume and quality of the images he produces go beyond mere documentation to become expressions of thematic motifs in this youth culture movement. At once emotive, artistic and journalistic, his images create a natural bridge between the subject and the viewer. His work has not only elevated and influenced how snowboarding is viewed, but also how it is documented by others in the field. As the Principal Photographer for Burton Snowboards, he is among the sport’s most prolific, most widely published, and most keenly aware of snowboarding’s cultural significance. Somehow, Gray also finds time to aim his camera at other subjects with the natural curiosity of the artist and technical precision. Gray continues to expand the scope of his work by bringing his well-trained eye to cycling, landscapes, architecture, travel, and beyond.