Everything you need to know about cycling in Dubai
Explore the UAE’s wealth of cycling routes, parks and clubs
In case you missed it, Dubai recently launched a huge, citywide fitness challenge, the premise of which is fairly straightforward – 30 minutes of exercise every day for 30 days.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council for Dubai Government, leads the Dubai Fitness Challenge, which will run from Friday October 20 to Saturday November 18.
Dubai will be filled with some absolutely huge exercise events, including The Color Run on Friday October 20 – a 5km run, with a bunch of colourful dust and foam chucked in for good measure. Also on the same day is the Dubai Desert Warrior Challenge, a huge obstacle race at Dubai Land, as well as the 2XU Triathlon at Mamzar.
One of the biggest events, however, is for those who feel more at home on two wheels. The Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge, the biggest cycling event in the UAE, takes place on Friday December 15. It’s a 92km race, which is open to all levels, but that separates advanced riders (who can average more than 38kph for the race), and intermediate riders (at 37.5kph and under). Warm-up races take place on Friday October 20 and Friday November 24 each increasing in distance as the big day approaches (65km and 85km respectively).
If you miss the Spinneys 92, keep your eyes open for the Dubai Tour, an 800km, five-stage professional race that takes place at the start of next year.
And if you’re not feeling ready for some competitive cycling, there’s plenty more going to get you into the saddle. In the next few years more than 500km of bike tracks are to be added to Dubai’s streets to make the city more accesible for cyclists. But until then there’s still a wealth of options, whether you want a gentle ride around the park, a sprint on the track, a mountain biking route or a jaunt alongside the beach.
Widely regarded as the foremost cycling area in Dubai, Al Qudra has almost 100km of paved track in the desert.
There are two start points. The first – not far beyond Arabian Ranches and Studio City – is nothing more than a car park and changing facility. From there, riders head up The Stick, a long, straight track running alongside Al Qudra Road. The second, 18km up from the first, is a hive of activity thanks to Trek Bicycle Store, which offers rental services, mechanics, a coffee shop and medical centre.
You’ll find some of Dubai’s most dedicated and keen riding enthusiasts on any given Friday or Saturday morning, enjoying the track and the stunning sunrise vistas. Expect gangs of fully equipped, experienced riders, but not intimidatingly so for beginners.
Be sure to note that few taxis pass by the area, so if you need to get back to Dubai make arrangements ahead of time. Open 24 hours. Motor City, Al Qudra (04 832 7377).
Dubai Autodrome Every Wednesday evening Dubai Autodrome hosts a dedicated cycling session suitable for a range of levels. The 2.46km route takes in gentle to steep gradients and is also floodlit. TrainDubai is the perfect way to blow out the cobwebs after a long day at work, with sessions kicking off between 6pm and 9pm each Wednesday.
If you’re in need of kitting out ahead of TrainDubai, you can pick up bike and helmet rentals from Revolution Cycles, which partners with the track, although you might need to bring your own lycra... What’s best, though, is that the whole event is free. Free. Wed 6pm-9pm. Ongoing. Dubai Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).
Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre Hatta is home to some of the most naturally stunning scenes in the region. There are few finer places to catch a sunset than around Hatta Dam, but if you’re hitting one of the advanced mountain biking trails in the Hatta Mountains – on the Oman border – you’ll want to set off in time for sunrise instead.
Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre claims to be the first of its kind in the Middle East, and is home to multiple cross-country routes of varying levels, making it well-suited to all ability levels, from beginners to experienced riders. There are more than 50km of routes, and plans are afoot to expand that further. Tracks run along the entire mountain range and, like skiing routes, start at green for beginners and scale up to black for very advanced bikers.
Good quality bikes are required for the best part, and it’s generally advised that bikers are in good health if they’re to take on any of the routes. All tracks are free to use. For more information, visit www.hattamtb.ae.
Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah The UAE’s highest point recently got a whole lot more interesting following the news that a brand-new observation deck is being developed, which is set to act as a base camp for cyclists and hikers. Jebel Jais is a 20km-long ride that climbs by just over 1km. But after an hour or two of constant uphill work, you can look forward to rewards in the form of an easy cruise back down again.
Sadly, that won’t last quite as long as the climb, but the early start will be worthwhile. And if you head there from December, you’ll be able to try the world’s longest and highest zip line, too. For more information, visit www.jebeljais.ae.
Nad Al Sheba Often considered to be one of the most picturesque, purpose built tracks in Dubai, the Nad Al Sheba track opposite The Meydan Hotel and Racecourse boasts some stunning views of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. It used to be a camel racing track but has been converted to host three routes for cyclists, runners and kids – with 8km, 6km and 4km routes.
The track also hosts night sessions, being well lit for post-sunset rides, although the Nad Al Sheba does require you to have lights on your bike if you’re riding at night.
Beyond the fun of picking up some serious speed, there are also a range of amenities, including showers, to freshen up after your sprint. Free. Opposite The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba (04 339 4453).
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi So you might not pick up the same sort of speeds that Lewis Hamilton will be knocking up come November’s season-closing F1 event, but the very fact that you can actually cycle around the Formula One track at Yas Marina is very, very cool.
Take a trip to Abu Dhabi and head to the circuit on Tuesdays, Sundays and Wednesdays (for ladies only) to try out this world-famous track. Both professional and amateur cyclists can hit the circuit, which measures at 5.5km long.
Whatever your level and cycling ability, at Yas Marina Circuit there are free sessions that are open to cyclists, walkers and running as part of TrainYas and Start Yas. There are even yoga and Zumba classes too. On Wednesdays, there is a ladies-only session called GoYas.
You do need to get your hands on an ID card for each session, so head to www.yasmarinacircuit.com before you visit to find out how to register and make the most of your time on the track. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, www.yasmarinacircuit.com (800 927).
Road Riding If you’re looking for more urbanised riding, there are also brilliant websites such as www.bikemap.net, which excel in sharing interactive maps. If you’re going to investigate street riding as an option, make sure you know the laws surrounding cycling on public roads and streets, however. While cycle lanes exist in a lot of areas in the city, it is illegal to cycle on major roads, highways and roads with a speed limit of more than 60kph. You must wear cycle helmet wherever you’re biking, and infringing on either law can land you with a fine of more than Dhs500 per offence per occasion. It’s time to get pedalling.
Cycle groups Cycle Safe Dubai This is one of the main cycle groups in the city, with a cyclist base that reflects its popularity. It organises most of its rides at Al Qudra. An annual membership of Dhs550 gets you an official team kit, a ten percent discount at Revolution Cycles and Costa Coffee, an invitation to join all rides, plus a lot more. For more information, visit www.cyclesafedubai.com.
Dubai Cycling Community A Facebook group where more than 5,000 members share tips, advice, guidance and arrange independent rides aside from those organised by dedicated organisations. Search Dubai Cycling Community on Facebook.
Dubai Roadsters The Roadsters ride every week with varying levels and race durations available. The signature ride starts at Reform Social & Grill at The Lakes, heads up to Nad Al Sheba and meets up with additional members before heading back to Reform. All before a bit of brekkie. Lovely. For more information, visit www.dubairoadsters.com.
Park rides It’s not all about burning rubber on the track or whizzing your way through the mountains. Here are three places to head to for a quieter ride, more suited to an easy-going Saturday afternoon jaunt than a Friday morning sprint.
Al Barsha Try out the cycling and jogging track in Al Barsha’s Pond Park. Set in among acres of green land this oasis makes a welcome change from the usual sand-pelted areas. Free. Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 8am-11.30pm. Al Barsha.
Jumeirah Open Beach Track This is a chilled ride by the sea. Set along the scene of Jumeirah Beach, the open beach has showers, toilets, and a variety of amenities and refreshments alongside the 1.8km track.
Mushrif Park In Mushrif Park near Khawaneej (and the Last Exit that opened there earlier this year – hello, lost calories) is this 5.25 sq km park. Expect a cycle track as well as a pool, barbecue area, playgrounds, playing courts and more. Dhs3. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat 8am-11pm. Al Khawaneej.
Bike shops to try Revolutions Cycles This is a multipurpose webstore with everything you’re likely need for your next excursion. Bikes, clothing, accessories, the food and drink you’re likely to need and even maintenance on frames and parts. Sun-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-4pm. Apex Atrium, Motor City, www.rcdxb.com (04 369 7441).
The Cycle Hub This established bike store boasts a huge range of bicycles, accessories, services, knowledge and experiences – so pretty much everything you’d need to get going if you’re a newbie. Peckish? Head to the attahced Cycle Bistro, for a post-ride bite to eat. Sun-Tue, Thu 8am-8pm, Wed 8am-9pm, Fri-Sat 8am-6pm.Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.thecyclehub.com (04 425 6555).
Trek Bikes Pick up everything you need for any of the three main cycle types – road biking, mountain biking and fitness biking. You can also rent gear if needs be and a range of precision fit, ergonomic equipment can also be tailor-made. Daily 6am-10pm. Al Qudra Cycle Track, www.trekbikes.ae (04 832 7377).