Expat Magazine

134. Bicycles II

By Martinfullard @MartyFullardUAE

Last year I regaled you all with the tale about the time when I was driving to work and encountered a bearded man in pajamas cycling towards me on the wrong side of the road. As I was driving at 80 Kommunists per hour, the limit on the road in question, I sounded my horn to alert him of a) my imminent presence and b) his total, utter stupidity. He fell off. Ah. No matter, he was fine, but I was angry. I very nearly killed him and he did not seem to mind at all. In fact, he seemed relatively upbeat despite being within a stones throw of eternal darkness.

I adore cycling. It is perhaps the most entertaining of all the exercises and I truly do miss it. I have considered cycling here but there have been three key factors that have put me off the idea. The first is the fact that, according to the word of the law, cycling is illegal. Cycling may only take place on private land or in pre-designated cycling areas. It is obviously one of those numerous, mad laws that exists solely to make the law-book more girthsome. But law or no law, the bicyclists pedal on. We see them everywhere, usually cycling against the flow of traffic on what are basically motorways.

The second facet that has put me off cycling is that my life expectancy would be severely reduced. It is dangerous enough out there, on the roads, when you have four feet of steel and engine to protect you together with a sturdy side-impact protection system. Take the NCAP crash tested safety features away and I don’t fancy my chances against a speeding Land Cruiser when I all I have in my arsenal is my face and a witty last remark. I would be safer cutting my own head off.

But the third and final reason why my cycling dreams sit there gathering dust in the corner is that for nine months of the year it is simply too hot. Yes, this reason puts me off getting the Raleigh out more so than certain death. The moment it hits 30 Celsius you are finished. You will get 25 yards down the road before you either die of dehydration or are as wet as the hull of HMS Conquerer.

Nothing in the UAE is nearby, nothing is within walking distance. Therefore should you wish to cycle to work or to the mall then you will arrive looking like a Christmas turkey; moist on the outside, dry on the inside and certainly missing some vital extremities. You might look at your beer-bellied co-workers with a smug grin that implies you have done some exercise and that they will die of scurvy, but, and believe me, you will stink to high heaven. That will make you about as popular as George Osbournes’ austerity measures.

Al Ain isn’t really the party capital of the UAE and more often than not people would choose to live in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi before they do the garden city. But Al Ains’ trump card is that it does not have to deal with ambient humidity, unlike the capital and its enemy. Still, when it is 55 Celsius outside and getting hotter just peer through the window of the nearest automobile and look how comfortable the occupants are. The humidity in the flagship cities however, well, that is hell on Earth in the height of summer. You can barely walk the six feet from your front door to your car without needing to rush back upstairs for a shower and a change of clothes.

Why is it, then, that a German company has decided to set up shop in Dubai providing hire-bicycles to those who wish to die too young? Who in their right mind would want to get off the Metro and then make the rest of the journey to the office on a bicycle? In December or January, go for it, but July? Are you out of your mind? If I went for a meeting and met someone who looked like they had just been wrestling Mike Tyson for three hours, and also carried the distinct aroma of manure about them, then I would request that we reschedule.

Watch out, Beadles' about.... and he's trying to get you to cycle in the Dubai summer sun...Punk*d.

Watch out, Beadles’ about…. and he’s trying to get you to cycle in the Dubai summer sun…Punk*d.

This enterprise is one of two things; diabolical market research or pure exploitation of the daft classes. If a bike-hiring man approached me on a sultry summer’s day and asked me if I would like to complete my journey to Mall of the Emirates on a Raleigh Chopper, I would do pugilism on him, and then wait for Jeremy Beadle to jump out. But he is no longer with us, so maybe Rio Ferdinand instead. Punk*d.

I think the whole rent-a-bicycle idea is, in actual fact, a really good one. It is tremendously popular in Europe, but chiefly because the weather is far more accommodating. Ok, Boris Johnsons’ ones get covered in pigeon shit, but I think that is more of a statement against Barclays Bank than anything else. It is a good idea but sadly not workable in the UAE. It is simply too hot, and when the human body is dehydrated it cannot think properly. That is when accidents happen and that is when the undertaker is called to spring into action. Just look at the guy with the beard who came at me on the wrong side of the road. Don’t tell me he was firing on all cylinders in the brain department.

When summer comes, stick to your air conditioned car. No one wants to meet someone who smells like a landfill site. It may upset some environmentalists but at least you won’t be killed.

And if, even after my rallying cry, you are still considering renting a bicycle, then I implore you to think of your family.

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