The challenge was last attempted in the Middle East in Oman in 2010. Image Credit: Arshad Ali

Dubai: A group of six Dubai bikers will be attempting to complete the ‘King of the Road Challenge’ by riding 2,500km around the UAE in 36 hours on December 11.

The team of bikers, part of the Harley Davidson riders club, have taken up the challenge, also known as the Iron Butt Bun Burner, with the aim of adding their names to the 61 riders who have completed the challenge worldwide in the last eight years.

The riders will start their journey at 5am on December 11, and end it on 6pm on December 12 at a petrol station on Al Khail Road.

Among the group of riders who come from several nationalities, including Indian, Syrian, Jordanian, and Italian, is the first Emirati to attempt the challenge.

Group leader Vicky M., a Dubai resident of 28 years from India, said the challenge was last attempted in the Middle East in Oman in 2010.

“The route we are taking is within the UAE and some of our goals include visiting each emirate and covering the famous E11 road from one end near the Saudi border up to the other end, which is Ras Al Khaimah in one stretch without detours,” said Vicky

Reaching as many international border posts and using each road once is also among the group’s challenge goals.

The team will make an estimated 16 stops to refuel and mark their progress. “We need to submit petrol pump receipts to the Long Distance Riders Association, and the Iron Butt Association to prove the time we arrived and mileage at each stop,” said Vicky.

Both associations certify the same challenge, which they have each given a unique name — ‘King of the Road/Butt Bun Burner challenge’. Along with a certificate, the Long Distance Riders also issue patches and pins that can be added to the riders’ leather jackets to remind them of their achievements.

During the trip, two riders will be the time keepers, and record the team’s arrival and departure times at each petrol station. “We have to refuel all six bikes very quickly, get their receipts signed, freshen up and leave the station all within 15 minutes,” he said.

A passion for riding

Just like others on the team, Vicky’s love for riding a motorbike started at a young age and continued to grow until he finally bought his first bike in 1990 after moving to live in the UAE. “I always had a mechanical bent of mind and love machines and motors, so I started riding my uncle’s motorcycle at the age of 15,” said Vicky.

The 53-year-old said his son’s interest in the King of the Roads ride is the reason that drove him to attempt the challenge. “One day my son saw a famous biker who had many patches on his jacket, and asked him about the significance of each patch. He was particularly charmed by the King of the Rod one and asked why I didn’t have one,” explained Vicky.

Aiming to make his son proud, Vicky began to find out more about the challenge and started training after buying one of the biggest bikes in the Harley Davidson collection, ‘the ultra Limited’. The long-time rider trained for his ultimate goal by taking part in lower level challenges and riding around the country during which he made notes about the road conditions, sandy areas, camel fences, and lighting. After two years, Vicky said he is finally ready to take on the strenuous long ride.

Airline pilot Antongiulio Goracci, 48, a member of the team from Italy, is the master behind the route plan.

With 20 years of experience in riding motorbikes, Goracci will be taking on his first real challenge. “I have taken part in many group rides but never in the form of a challenge. I know this will be an experience that will remain in my memories forever,” he said.

Looking forward to pinning the Kings of the Road patch to his jacket, Goracci is even more excited about experiencing the adventure.

Similarly, Emirati Omar Q., 31, is keenly anticipating the ride and hoping to make a new record. “I have previously completed 1,615km in 22 hours and hope we achieve this goal. I could be the first Emirati to complete the challenge,” said Omar.

Fellow rider Wael Jandali, 40, is more excited about spending time on his bike and enjoying the company.

“I am not into breaking any records, I am just here to have fun and spend time with my crew and enjoy the challenge,” said Wael.

The team, who are all members of a rider’s club meet and ride together two to three times a week. They describe the biking culture as one that focuses not only on the sport but on socialising and enjoying the company of others. Vicky said riding has a great spiritual and calming effect on him and has given him a new family who all share the same passion.

“After a few months, I am planning to look into taking my team to the US for the Coast to Coast challenge, which is 3,500km in 48 hours. A seeker of challenges just has to look for another,” Vicky said.