We don’t want to sound like every generation ever – but kids these days don’t know how to have fun. Anybody, who thinks swiping away crushing candy on a smartphone or tablet is fun has never felt the unadulterated joy of pelting along on a bike, taking your hands from the handlebars, raising two fists above your head and shouting "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" as you pass your friend.
Or pulling a wheelie on a BMX. Or the first time you take a mountain bike off-road and onto a dirt track. Or even putting a picnic in a basket on the front of your bike and setting out to find a remote corner of the park. Okay, that last one might be more pleasurable for a parent than a cool-seeking kid, but you get the idea.
As well as being incredible fun that will get kids out of the house, a bike ride provides freedom, fitness and a sense of family togetherness.
Parents and children, however, can be nervous when first getting into the saddle. There will be grazes, cuts and bumps to begin with, but once the essentials of balance are learned it is as easy as, well, riding a bike. Be aware of road safety and educate children about the importance of wearing a helmet at all times, correct hand signals and the rules of safe cycling. Don’t be daunted, though. Dubai has some excellent safe cycling locations where beginners can master the basics and experienced riders can let loose and show off their skills. Sound good to you? Check out these six safe cycle spots in Dubai.
The problem with finding a place to ride bikes in Dubai is the worry that cars are going to make cycling unsafe. Which is why heading to the fastest stretch of road in the entire emirate is advisable. On a Wednesday night the Dubai Autodrome opens up the 2km+ loop for joggers and cyclists. Let kids get down to track level and show off top speeds with a whirl around the track. Perfect for wannabe Chris Hoys.
Free access to cyclists on Wednesdays, 6-9pm, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 870004 367 8700).
Al Qudra Cycle Path
A desert track with enough undulating track to satisfy weekend pedalers and serious long-haul extreme cyclists alike. Recent expansion means there is more roadway to explore, but it is the surrounding sites that make this the most memorable track in the emirate. With dozens of kilometre of track cutting directly through picturesque dunes and sandy hillocks, it is a serene setting for an early morning race. The great thing is you don’t even need a bike of your own to access the track. The nearby Trek Bike store is something of a hub for enthusiasts and you can rent cycles from here before committing to a set of wheels of your own. Free, 24-hour access, Al Qudra Road, Various tracks. Main track stretches 18km and runs besides the northern part of Al Qudra Road (no number).
Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park
We love that this cycle path used to be a camel racing track and have been known to pretend to be riding a camel as we loop around. It embarrasses the kids but that just spurs us on even more. Numerous routes, between four and eight kilometres are marked and a course specifically for children is included.
Free. 24-hour access. Nad Al Sheba, near Al Meydan Road. Track is roughly 17.34km (no number).
Al Barsha Pond Park
It is a strange thing, they have so much in common, but joggers and cyclists don’t always get on. We’ve never been sure why, but hope one day they can live in harmony and put their differences to one side. Until that time, Al Barsha’s marvellous track is a place they can live in harmony. Separate jogging and cycling lanes circle the 1,500km circumference of a lake so you don’t need to worry about learner drivers crashing into pedestrians. Pedal-powered buggies are also available to rent so the whole family can share a single vehicle for social circling.
Free. Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 8am-11.30pm. Al Barsha, behind Emirates NBD Bank (no number).
Jumeirah Open Beach
Despite the apparent suitability, cycling is not permitted in sections of the Jumeirah Corniche’s 14km stretch, so you’ll have to stick to walking there. A 1.5km track running from the open beach (behind Loca) to Mankhool Road, however, positively encourages cyclists. It is a good place for beach cycling and kids with a penchant for rollerblades will want to give it a try too.
Free. 24-hour access. Next to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road
Al Mushrif Park
Out near the suburbs of Mirdif is this characterful park with a 5km cycle track looping in and out of the grounds. Bike rental is possible and the presence of a few sandy dunes will test pedal power to a moderate degree.
Entrance fee Dhs3 per person or Dhs10 per car. Daily 8am-11pm. Mirdif, www.dm.gov.ae (04 288 362404 288 3624).
Your kids have got the cycling bug and you need to take family pedaling to the next level. Bikes, as well as a large number of accessories, are available from the following shops. You can also frequently find second-hand bikes on classified listing website Dubizzle (www.dubizzle.com).
Well known among the triathlon community, this sporting megastore stocks a good selection of bicycles and equipment for children. The perfect store for outdoorsy children as it has clothing, pads and helmets for all levels of cyclist. Adventure HQ, Mall and Dalma Mall, www.adventurehq.ae (02 445 699502 445 6995).
Wolfi’s Bike Shop
Inside Wolfi’s you’ll find everything you could possibly need to saddle up and get on your bike. The store offers customers 25 years’ worth of service and experience when it comes to selling bikes, equipment and clothing for adults and kids. Wolfi’s Bike Shop, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.wbs.ae (04 339 445304 339 4453).
This popular store operates as a bike shop and bicycle service centre in the Al Barsha 1 area. Featuring lots of bikes for track and road use, plus helmets and other accessories. Probike, Sheikh Juma bin Ahmed Al Maktoum Building, www.probike.ae (04 325 570504 325 5705).
The Bike Shop
From mountain bikes, road bikes and city bikes, the Bike Shop offers a huge range of two wheeled wonders. Families can also pick up all biking equipment and accessories at this one stop shop for bike enthusiasts. The Bike Shop, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.bikeshopdubai.com (055 972 6883055 972 6883).