Typically, bike holidays evoke the idea of pedaling through the French countryside, with a baguette tied to your steering wheel, or the pleasant and unglamorous rides on the flat bike paths that cut through cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam
How Abu Dhabi became the world's hottest cycling city
They usually don't include the Arabian Desert, where summer temperatures and intense midday sun can get so hot that bike tires can explode.
But that could change soon.
In Abu Dhabi The two-wheeled revolution begins, thanks to a major investment pushing locals and visitors alike to cycle, offering a unique cycling experience that can only be experienced here.
Last year it was named the official "Bicycle City" cycling's sports governing body, the International Cycling Union. It is the first city in the Middle East and Asia to receive such an award. Due to the hot climate, it can literally be the hottest cycling city in the world.
At first glance, Abu Dhabi's cycling opportunities are not obvious. Built on oil wealth, the UAE's capital and surrounding region is car territory. Gasoline is cheap, roads are wide, speed limits – outside urban areas – are very high.
However, if you look closely, everything changes. In the past few years, miles of cycling-friendly footpaths have appeared alongside new highways, and the emirate is slowly establishing itself as the UAE's main cycling gateway, introducing international racing and developing domestic talent.
Along the way, the emirate has created incredible cycling opportunities that, along with the entire list of other attractions in Abu Dhabi, can attract both cycling fans and anyone who wants to try something completely different.
Non-social hours< /p>
However, participation may require some non-social hours. In winter, the milder climate is ideal for all-day skiing, but from May to September, when temperatures sometimes reach 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), the best time to ski is before sunrise or after sunset.
That's why friends Andy Coleman and Dan Baltrusaitis are not uncommon to meet a little after 6am on a Saturday, putting on their bike shoes in the car park on Al Hudayriyat Island, south of the city, home to beach resorts and a beautiful dedicated cycling track.
“Why I'm doing this, I don't know,” Coleman laughs as they hit the smooth pavement to start their workout.
Despite the early time, they are not alone. Dozens of other cyclists fly through the trail network, which ranges from three to 10 kilometers and includes a spectacular water track. The terrain is mostly flat, but violent winds from the sea can add obstacles.
“It's a wonderful experience,” says Ricky Bautista, one of the collective of uniformed cyclists who race around as soon as the first light of daylight comes on. Sveta. The Bautista team works at a bike shop in Dubai and travels across the border to try out the free trails at Al Hudayriyat.
“I'm a beginner, but all my colleagues are cyclists, and they told me: “try it and you'll like it,” he says. “Today it's really difficult because of the wind, but when you change direction, you feel like you're flying, and it's even more pleasant.”
You can also see many other clubs on the track, where men and women of all ages race past the distant skyline of the city's financial zone skyscrapers. Someone comes by car, and someone goes from home. There is also a bus for cyclists.
For visitors, there is a rental shop, Yas Mena Cycles, which opens early to rent out a fleet of road bikes for less than $20 an hour. Nearby there is an Emirates branch called Wolfi's where you can rent more expensive bikes and buy bikes up to and over $16,000. The store also stocks modern and vintage Tour de France bikes from UAE-owned Italian bike manufacturer Colnago.