Dubai: Wolfgang Hohmann, better known as Wolfi, owner of Wolfi’s Bike Shop and member of Roadster Dubai cycling group, talked to Gulf News about the growing culture of cycling in Dubai.
“I’ve been in Dubai for 12 years and I see the number of people cycling grow every year — it’s a worldwide movement and it has definitely made its way to Dubai.”
While Dubai is not considered a bicycle-friendly city yet, Wolfi pointed out that there are several cycling tracks across the city that are perfect for group rides. The ‘Dubai Roadsters’, which are a diverse group of riders with a variety of skills and fitness levels, carry out weekly organised rides for mountain biking, road biking, family and casual city biking and track cycling. The cycling tracks include the Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park, Mushrif Park, and the Zayed Velodrome in Sharjah.
“The more people know about cycling rides in Dubai, the more they are interested and the more they get into the sport,” said Wolfi.
However, certain factors — like the hot months in Dubai and its highways road system — can put the brakes on a cyclist’s schedule. Using a bicycle as a main mode of transportation can be very challenging in the UAE, said Wolfi. “It would be nice if the roads become more bike-friendly — but it’s a big challenge to incorporate cars with bike tracks, and it can’t happen overnight.”
The cycling culture, he believes, is slowly spreading in the country and the recent rent-a-bike services introduced in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah are helping the culture be stronger. However, Wolfi pointed out that cycling in the UAE is considered a form of exercise and a way to stay fit, as opposed to a mode of transportation encouraged for its zero carbon footprint.
Having said that, the exercise culture is subject to logistical issues like the cyclist having to often carry their bikes in their cars to get to the designated areas in order to enjoy their ride. This sort of defeats the purpose of cycling as the most environmental activity because you get to spin the two fuel-less wheels only after spinning a set of four which use up fossil fuel.
How to find the right bike
Buying a bike is a more complicated process than many people think. “Finding the right bike for you is similar to finding the right shoe size,” said Wolfi. There are many factors to be considered like your height and weight, along with the purpose and type of cycling you wish to do. From in-city cycling to mountain biking, there are many ways to enjoy a bout of cycling but each ones comes with its own discipline and requirements. When choosing a bike, it is important to take the input of a professional cyclist. His advice is invaluable in helping you pick the bike that is right for your body and type of hobby.
Another aspect crucial for a cyclist to consider is road safety. It is priority. The basic gear needed when cycling on the road is a helmet and several reflective lights. “The reflective LED lights should be placed on the bike and clipped on to the clothing of the cyclist so they are highly visible to others and also can easily be spotted by cars on the road.”