Roisin Thomas set out at 5.30am on Wednesday from Abu Dhabi on a mission to cover 467km across the seven emirates in 18 hours Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/XPRESS

Abu Abu Dhabi: An Irish sports trainer in Abu Dhabi is set to become the first woman to cycle across the seven emirates within 24 hours.

A top-ranking cyclist with a triathlon background, Roisin Thomas, 27, embarked on her historic journey along with four male cyclists from the capital at 5.30 am Wednesday, intending to cover 467km before finishing off at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai in 18 hours.

At the time of going to press, she was still on the road.

“I love cycling and want to be the best. I also want to raise awareness about the benefits of cycling which is being encouraged in a big way in the UAE. Basically, I keep pushing myself both mentally and physically to do something beyond what I can do normally – and wish to convey this message to others as well,” she told XPRESS ahead of the ride.

A passionate cyclist who averages an incredible 600km per week, Thomas said she is constantly pushing the envelope. She has many achievements to her credit. Most recently, she won the first place in the Ajman 90km race in April, as she did in the Ras Al Khamiah and Abu Dhabi Yas races earlier this year.

She said the idea of a cross-cycling challenge across the emirates dawned on her when she was travelling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi one day. “I realised as cyclists, we do the same thing over and over again. We take the same tracks, ride with the same groups and stick to the same schedules. That was when I thought of cycling across the UAE.”

Subsequently, Thomas spoke to her friends to find out if they would support her. And before she knew it, they had a plan in place. “We are a mixed group and the four men accompanying me are of different nationalities. I knew we would make a good team because I trusted them.”

She said the team members include Raslan Abbadi from Jordan, Noel Stander from South Africa, Edmar Magbitang from the Philippines and Buti Al Nuamimi from the UAE.

Thomas said there are many other reasons to celebrate cycling. According to her, it is one of the greatest – and simplest - forms of exercise. “People have been doing it for hundreds of years. Unlike other fitness regimes, it is not harsh on the body. It is good for your knees, joints and muscles and is a great way to lose weight – all without the risk of injury.”

She said cycling also has a social and environmental angle to it as it enables riders to meet new people and is sustainable.

“More people are using cycles today in the UAE. They are buying old fashioned bikes, taking them to work and to shop, not relying on their cars all the time.” She said the UAE is putting in a lot of investment on building cycling tracks for the benefit of the public and this is a very welcome move. Playing host to the first woman to cycle across the seven emirates within a day would only add another feather in its cap.