I watched the camel running alongside me for a while before my attention returned to the climb ahead. It looked steep, but I could see the top so I wasn't worried. Super-fit Andy was blasting ahead as usual and almost at the top, pursuing our even fitter cycling leader. I felt I could catch them, even in the fierce heat. My bike was a good one and rolling so easily on thin tyres that all I had to do was tuck in for a slight downhill and I'd gain enough momentum to carry me halfway up the slope. Energy from the delicious bananas handed out by our tour guide at the last stop would take care of the rest, and I could look around at the stunning desert landscape. The cycling leader, half my age and riding a proper racing bike, came flying back down the hill, then returned to pass me a few minutes later, out of the saddle with legs pounding like pistons. Show off.
Our police escort followed him past, driving their huge SUV with red and blue lights flashing on the roof and Arabic police markings on the side. They accompanied us on all the cycling sections, stopping traffic at junctions and making it easy to imagine that we were part of the Tour de France. Special treatment that made us feel like we were honoured guests. We also had a tourist police officer with us on the bus at all times, speeding us through checkpoints and escorting us on foot to the tourist sites, stopping traffic so that we could cross the road. It felt like being a VIP but it wasn't even necessary because the locals were so friendly. Where the traffic was a nightmare and locals have to risk their lives, drivers would see a group of tourists and stop for us. Even taxi drivers would halt, smiling and waving us across. They treat tourists well. Even in the shops they don't try to take advantage of you, and the most delicious freshly made falafel sandwich will still only set you back about 50p.
A local car came over the hill ahead of me, going very slowly with kids hanging out of the back windows to take a look at us. There weren't many cars on the roads we'd been cycling - traffic became a point of interest rather than a danger. As the car came level I heard the familiar cry of "Welcome to Jordan!". What a country.
I reached the top of the hill and came through a pass cut into the rock, which opened up to reveal more great views across a valley, and the even more welcome sight of our bus with its fridge full of cold drinks. I needed one. My legs were still tired from hiking 13 miles up and down the rocks at Petra, a place with such atmosphere, such awe inspiring history and ancient craft that it will never leave you.
I couldn't wait to get to our desert camp at Wadi Rum, for an evening of camel riding, freshly roasted feasting around the camp fire and a night under the stars, but I also knew that would mean the end of our cycling and I didn't want it to stop.