Cycling Dubai's Al Qudra Desert Cycle Way
Updated: 3 days ago
We are going to the UK, where I will compete in the UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championship during the first week of December. The plan included breaking the long journey up by adding two weeks in Dubai. Alofa did not like the idea of hanging about one part of England in freezing and wet winter weather, so Dubai was the obvious place to stay: The total opposite of England at this time of the year!
Although it was such a long way in blistering hot and windy, Alofa and I rode all 104 kilometres of the Al Qudra Desert Cycle Way. We did this the day after being reunited with our luggage, including our precious bikes.
At times, it seemed never-ending, and we took a few wrong turns along the way, thus taking the long way home.
I heard shared hardship strengthens a relationship, so getting semi-lost in the desert seemed like a good idea. I have not asked Alofa if she agrees, but it seems to have worked on previous occasions.
What we are doing here may appear extreme; however, this induced hardship is required to prepare to compete at the UCI championship level and win. We did prepare for these conditions, and upon arrival, we were very well acclimatised to the anticipated heat and dehydration. Thank goodness for that!
The desert is what it is: barren and without a drop of water; still, there is wildlife, if one looks closely enough, mostly birds, but there are other creatures, like antelope.
How these birds survive out here boggles my mind since there appears to be little more than saltbush, and water is scarce. However, these birds can fly vast distances, which, I guess, is why they can thrive in such harsh conditions.
While quietly riding through the countryside by bike, we see things that others might miss. I always thought Oryx were large antelope, but they are better described as being the size of large goats with very long and sharp horns. I assume the horns defend against predators grabbing them by their hindquarters during a chase. The Oryx we encountered had a water and feed station, but I still marvel at how they survive in the desert.
Oryx are magnificent creatures.
The cycleway went on and on, seemingly never-ending, unlike our water supply. I began to worry a little that we might run out as we exercised hard in blistering heat. However, it worked out fine in the end. We felt the heat mostly when stationary since the self-made wind while riding was cooling. The main challenge was to keep hydrated for the duration by carefully ingesting the water we carried.
(Please accept my apologies in advance for the videos, which are a bit jerky, and I could barely see the screen due to the intense sunlight, so some of the shots appear off their target.)
I'm so glad we had sunscreen, sunglasses and plenty of water for this 104-kilometre ride. Unlike Alofa, my skin is not suited to such intense and prolonged sunlight like this.
After several hours of riding through a baking-hot desert, nothing goes down better than an ice smoothie. We still had another 20 kilometres to go, but you get the idea, don't you?
Here is a Relive summary of our ride along the Al Qudra Cycleway: