Dubai: You might love cycling but using your bike as a main means of transport 12 months of the year to cover a distance of 30km from home to workplace each day is a rare phenomenon in the UAE.
However, King Sunny Tan Jr, a salesman and BMX master at Wolfi’s bike shop near interchange 2 on Shaikh Zayed Road, is one of those rare exceptions. A man absolutely passionate about biking, he has been doing his daily commute from his home in Bur Dubai to Interchange 2 on his racing bike for the last nine years.
A childhood passion
“I have always loved biking ever since I was a child and think this is the best way to keep fit. I can have chocolate the whole day and eat just about anything and save on gym expenses,” says the fit 32-year-old.
Every morning King leaves his apartment behind Regent Hotel opposite the Khalid Bin Waleed Metro station on his race bike at 7.50am. The one golden rule he follows is keeping away from highways and main roads. He uses service roads to reach the Trade Centre and then from there into the tunnel behind Mazaya Centre. He then uses the service road to take interchange 2 near Safa Park and comes down using the pavement on the interchange to reach his work place in about 25 minutes. “I ride at about 20km/h and take about 35 minutes to cover the 15km distance from my home to workplace and I really enjoy the ride,” he says.
The cycling mantra
The trick, according to King, is to be extremely alert, cautious and tremendously patient. “Motorists here are not prepared to give way to cyclists. They least expect a cyclist to come on the road. So, some of them are rude, aggressive, they flash, honk and overtake a cyclist uncomfortably close. But I always let them take their time. I wait at crossings, let them pass and give them the right of the road,” says King who rides his bike almost 12 months of the year to work.
“In the winters I feel good and am not tired, but during the summer, I start earlier, carry a water bottle and keep myself hydrated. I always wear a helmet and riding gear and we have showering facilities at the shop to refresh and change,” he says of his experience which he would not trade for anything in the world.
Huge financial savings
King is not only a winner healthwise, but he also makes a huge saving on fuel and vehicle maintenance expenses. “ I am a sports-loving person and do not smoke or drink and never fall ill. Besides that had I been using even the Metro I would have to spend a minimum of Dh10 on travel from home to work and vice versa. I am not counting the money I might have to spend on cabs going to the station. I think I easily save Dh500 on my travel expenses. A bicycle is a low-maintenance vehicle. As someone working in a bike shop I am trained to maintain my bike. But once a year I spend Dh500 on a full service which includes changing tyres, tubes, bearings, etc, and my bike is good to go.”
His wife and kids also have their bikes but they use it for recreational rides. On weekends when he steps out for family outings, he prefers to use the Metro.
King feels it is time more people took to cycling as a more acceptable form of transport to be healthy here in the UAE. “We need more dedicated cycling tracks and cycling routes to encourage people and my advice to those who want to follow me is always be careful, vigilant and have monumental patience while on the roads.”