Nick Watson with his son Rio during the cycling challenge on Dubai roads in June. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A dad in Dubai took on the challenge of cycling 100km daily for a month with his son who has a rare disorder in order to advocate a more inclusive society.

British expat Nick Watson, 53, cycled on a specialised bike where his son Rio, 20, sat on an adapted seat in the front.

Their #RideWithRio Challenge covered 3,077km in 140 hours over 30 days in June, which is equivalent of cycling from Dubai to Istanbul, Turkey.

The dad-son duo completed the challenge in an attempt to raise awareness about the need for more community inclusivity for People of Determination. It took them on an average four hours and 45 minutes, every day. Some days were windy, some humid, recalled Watson, who also chronicled their mission on their family’s website and social media pages.

“Daily, we got up at 2.15am to start at 3am. Rio was probably the only person that got up every day with the biggest smile and full of happy enthusiasm for what was ahead. He truly loved it. He was in his happy place.”

However, it was not always easy. “We had six punctures, three ripped tyres and a broken rear wheel,” said Watson.

“It was hard…it was testing, it was long. But the goal was achieved and Rio is happy, we can’t ask for more,” the grateful father stated.

The duo was highly motivated when several people joined them on different days. Watson thanked all those that got up early, shared their time, energy, company and motivation.

However, on some days, it was just the two of them sharing a solo ride. Watson recalled it as a “time of great reflection.”

The laborious mission was accomplished as planned as it did not impact Rio’s health conditions on any day.

Mission accomplished: Dad-son duo Nick Watson and Rio. Image Credit: Supplied

Team AngelWolf

The cycling challenge also aimed to gather sponsorship towards “TAW School Impact Talk” that will allow the family's non-profit foundation to offer talks in schools and provide inclusive activities to spread the mission and awareness about community inclusion further.

Watson and his wife Delphine Watson had founded the non-profit foundation “Team AngelWolf (TAW),” in 2014 in a move to reverse the prospects for their son Rio.

He was born with a chromosome disorder, 1q44 deletion denovo syndrome, which causes severe physical disabilities and affects his motor skills and ability to speak. It is so rare that it affects only a handful of people worldwide.

Seeing that Rio’s chances for independence and participating in sport were set at almost zero, the parents were determined to overcome that barrier.

Inspired by Rio and his younger sister Tia, who are referred to as Angel and Little Wolf, the parents started “Team AngelWolf: Impact Talks and Community Inclusive Activities.”

The parents said they were blessed and fortunate to discover Rio’s passion in life - inclusive racing. This brought a wonderful opportunity of family togetherness, as a whole, father-son and brother-sister.

Support from WolfPack

“This lead to an awakening and need to create a more inclusive community, for Rio and others. It is this spirit we want to share with the world, extending the invite for everyone to join our ‘WolfPack,’” stated Watson.

Rio has participated in around 500 inclusive races internationally with his buddy father since 2014. His family and WolfPack community members support him in triathlons, running races, stair climbs, obstacle courses, and more. Using specialised equipment, his buddy ensures he can swim, cycle, and run in various events. Rio’s passion for racing and inclusion has driven him to cover an impressive distance of around 14,000km.

In 2021, the AngelWolf siblings had hit headlines after Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, pushed Rio’s running chair during the Dubai Run organised as part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge.

Team AngelWolf participates in a range of events and inclusive activities, from extreme world record breaking challenges to community walks. They have participated across the Middle East and International race calendar and run their own brand activations and inspirational seminars within schools and private companies.