The Velo Vixens are 765 riders who pedal 100km a week, at least – through Al Quoz, Meydan, Al Qudra, and Khawaneej
Imagine being able to cycle on over 200km of car-free, smooth and perfectly tarred road. Imagine cycling amongst the magnificent Arabian Oryx – once extinct in the wild – while experiencing the stillness, serenity, and sometimes harsh, winds of the desert. This and much more has become a reality in this bustling city I call home.
Growing up in South Africa, playing every sport that was thrown at me, I developed a crazy passion for any sport that takes me out of my comfort zone and into the land of pain, exhilaration and accomplishment. I love the excitement, the fear of the unknown, the friendships, seeing the city in a different light (literally at the most insane wee hours of the morning), but most of all, I love experiencing something new every time I get out. I spent a few years exploring old Dubai on my feet with the Creek Striders (a running group in Dubai). My goal was to run (and finish!) The Dubai Marathon, which I did. Unfortunately, I picked up an injury during training and that’s where my love for cycling was born.
With the amazing facilities we have here in Dubai, it’s no surprise that cycling is growing at a feverish rate. Back in 2012, there were a handful of riders and two main groups – now in 2017, there are many ‘breakaway’ groups built on rider ability, friendships and convenience. Whether you’re a beginner cyclist or a seasoned vet, there’s something for everyone! We also have an all female club – The Velo Vixens, which came together in early 2013, and now boasts a whopping 765 ladies getting out there and having a ball! I have met some of the most amazing women in this group, and now regularly ride 85km with them every Monday morning. The Al Qudra facility allows us to be out there doing the things we love in an extremely safe environment. And in true Dubai style, we have five- star shower facilities and coffee on hand when we finish our ride!
A few of the girls used to race with the guys, as there were no ‘female only’ races. With the growth of the sport here in Dubai, there is now a women’s cycling league, (which is in its second year) allowing the ladies to race amongst their peers in this male-dominant sport. I’m part of the Wolfi’s Contessa’s racing team in the women’s league. What an amazing and strong bunch of girls – I feel honoured to be riding with such talented and ambitious women! I love learning new skills and tricks from them, the friendly banter, the laughs and just having a jolly good time!
Along with my Monday rides, I regularly ride 120km every Friday morning with the Dubai Roadsters. We start at The Lakes, ride through Al Quoz to District One where we pick up more riders. I can’t think of a better way to start the morning: watching the sunrise over Meydan, listening to birds in Nad Al Sheba, and catching up over the week’s news with a bunch of like-minded folk, while riding through Khawaneej, Academic City and Warsan to name a few. The rides continue all through the year, summers are hot and humid and the winter mornings are breezy, sometimes foggy and frigid, where temperatures can dip into the single digits!
There are also rides organised in the hills, as most city riding is flat. I’ve participated in quite a few sportifs in South Africa, which required me to get some hills into my legs. Hatta, Jebel Hafeet and Jebel Jais (highest peak in the UAE) were the perfect training ground. Had it not been for this beautiful sport, I probably wouldn’t have made my way up to these more remote areas – they certainly have a character of their own and are a welcome break from the ‘busyness’ of the city.
I love cycling, the way it makes me feel, the freedom, the wind in my hair, I love the conversations and the friendly banter and most of all, I love being a part of this growing community of like-minded people who have a wealth of information and experiences to share.