Cycling is growing in popularity across the city, thanks in part to a growing number of dedicated tracks: many riders now train on the new desert route between Arabian Ranches and Bab Al Shams. Yet the sport’s growing profile can also be attributed to the dedication of the existing cycling community.
Dubai Roadsters is just one of the groups conducting regular cycling meets. The serious cyclists that make up the group are a dedicated bunch who come together every Friday morning to cover impressive distances.
On Friday November 16, they will be attempting a challenge that would not only make beginners balk, but is also a serious test of endurance for even the most seasoned of riders. Setting off from the regular meeting point at Lime Tree Café on Dubai’s Beach Road at 5.30am, they will peddle 220km across the UAE’s central region, through the Hajar mountains to finish at Le Méridien Al Aqah in Fujairah.
Organiser Wolfgang Hohmann, owner of Wolfi’s Bike Shop, estimates it’s the tenth time the group has attempted such a ride, though some have been slightly different.
‘I remember once we took some blind people on tandem bikes, and escorted them along the route,’ he recalls. And it won’t just be the usual Roadsters members this time either: they will be joined by riders from all over the emirates, as well as from across the region, with riders from countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia making up a an impressive group of up to 140 cyclists.
Just an hour or two in the saddle is enough to leave most people with a reasonably tender behind, but that’s put into harsh perspective when you consider these guys will be spending between six and eight hours completing the challenge, depending on fitness, stamina and energy levels on the day. This is by no means an entry-level event, and Wolfgang explains there is an enormous amount of training needed before taking on such a ride. ‘It’s not a ride for someone who has just started – this distance is so demanding you can’t do it without having done up to a year’s training. Even if you have really good fitness levels from another sport, you need a few weeks to get your legs up,’ he says. The Roadsters’ training regime runs throughout the week. ‘On a Friday morning we do our longer ride, which is between 80km and 120km, and on Sunday and Tuesday nights we go to the cycle park at Nad Al Sheba and ride there – that’s the regular training. In the build-up to the Coast to Coast, last weekend we did a 120km ride, and next we’ll do
maybe 160km,’ he explains.
The main challenges are the wind, and avoiding other road traffic. ‘When people get tired, it can affect their judgement – and obviously if you get hit by a car it’s more a problem for you than the car.’ Fortunately, there haven’t been any major incidents in the past, and most participants are trained to ride in groups. In any case, there are support cars on hand if riders tire or get injured.
‘It’s a really emotional experience for people who have never done it before, because it’s really hard work and it takes a lot to keep going,’ he concludes. Whether or not you know someone taking part, you can show your support for the participants by cheering them on along the way. If you get inspired, now is the perfect time to start training for next year’s event.
The Coast to Coast ride takes place on Friday November 16 from 5.30am at the Lime Tree Cafe. For more details visit www.dubairoadsters.com
Get kitted out
Ride Bike Shop
Sells a wide range of bikes, from professional to sport, recreational to both on- and off-road models. It has just opened its largest store in the region on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, where you’ll find brands including Giant, CycleOps and Saris.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-7.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-7.30pm. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 339 5602).
This Oud Metha store stocks fully customised pro-level bicycles, including women-specific designs, and caters to entry-level cyclists and kids. It also offers bike-fitting and workshop services.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-7pm. 1a, Sultan Business Centre, next to Lamcy Plaza, Oud Metha (04 335 0399).
One of Dubai’s best-known cycling shops, Wolfi’s houses its own workshop as well as a wide range of equipment and accessories, catering to everyone from beginner cyclists to professionals.
Open Sat-Thu 9am-7pm. Between interchange two and three, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 339 4453).