Thousands of people, some as young as 3, came to the third edition of Dubai Ride as Sheikh Zayed Road turned into a giant cycling track yet again.
Part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), the Dubai Ride saw people of all ages and fitness levels cycle across iconic landmarks including the Museum of the Future, Coca Cola arena and Burj Khalifa as they got in their 30 minutes of exercise. Some participants came from other emirates to participate in the event.
Emirati cousins Naela Alamri and Haifa Alameri arrived from Abu Dhabi on Saturday night and stayed overnight at a hotel nearby to make it to the starting point early. “We both love to cycle,” said Haifa Alameri. “I usually ride at least 3-4 times a week and I have been participating in bike races.
8-year-old Australian expat Maya was doing the Dubai Ride for the first time. “The ride is good, but my sister is a bit tired,” she said. Maya and her 6-year-old sister Maggie had woken up at 5am along with their father Mark to drive from Sharjah to Dubai to reach in time for the cycling event. “I am also a little tired but it’s ok. Daddy has promised to take us for burger afterwards.”
Mark said the family had bought new bikes for the event. “The girls were really excited to come so I bought new bikes and we woke up early to get here,” he said. “Maggie is feeling a little tired and cranky, but we are hoping to finish the 4km loop before going for breakfast.”
Riders started arriving at the various starting points as early as 4:30 for the the event that began a little after 5 on Sunday. There were cheers and applause when the first batch was flagged off in front of the Museum of the Future.
Husband and wife duo Shagun and Triveni were cycling with their 3-year-old daughter Trisha in a bike seat. “She loves it,” said Shagun, who has been a Dubai resident for 8 years. “She has been screaming and cheering while riding.”
Dressed in red and black T-shirts, the cyclists of Dubai Riders club were one of the most prominent groups in today’s ride. More than 450 participants between the ages of 6 and 65 joined the club’s founder Sajin Gangadharan for the event.
“Last year, we were only 100 participants,” he said. “This year, we have a much bigger participation from women and children. One of our bikers Dr Ashok Lodha suffered a shoulder injury but he didn’t want to sit the ride out, so he rode using just one hand.”
Some people stopped for photographs along the way while others played loud music during the fun ride. Others sang to entertain themselves during the ride.
For many cyclists, this wasn’t their first time participating in the event. “Last year, we cycled the whole circuit twice but I don’t think we will do that this year,” said Briton Ruth Bradley who was riding with her husband Simon Parkinson and their 10-year-old son Rafi Bradley-Parkinson.
“We live around this area, so we just walked over to the starting point with our bikes. Afterwards we are going to go out for a coffee.”
The Dubai Ride had two routes – a longer 12km ride on Sheikh Zayed Road for experienced riders and a shorter 4km family route on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid boulevard. There were six start and finish gates including MOTF, Satwa, Coca Cola arena, lower financial centre road and Business Bay.
For seasoned riders like Adrian Silva, doing one round of the 12km ride wasn’t challenging enough. “I completed four rounds,” he said. “I wanted to do 5 but I ran out of time.”
The Indian expat rides over 40kms every day but for him, Dubai Ride is always special. “It is an absolute treat to ride on the Sheikh Zayed Road,” he said. “I was riding solo but it felt like I was riding as part of a big group. People were relaxed and there was a great vibe in the air. I really enjoyed myself.”
For some riders, it was a great chance to catch up with their friends. Doctors Hussain, Reza, Emad, Nargis and Humayun met as colleagues at the Iranian hospital and have been cycling together for over three years.
“We cycle at least a few times a week together,” said Dr Hussain. “Even though some of us moved jobs, our love for cycling has ensured that we remain connected. Today, we decided to catch up with each other during the Dubai Ride.”
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