On the road

Rambles and musings from the road

Taking it out to the stables

 Al Jihad Stables, Dubai UAE

Al Jihad Stables, Dubai UAE

he salt crunched beneath my tyres and cleats as I traipsed off the paved road with my bicycle. The sound tingling and exciting my senses and filling me with a sense of wonderment. A new place, a road less travelled, is anyone else out here?

I ride for many reasons. Most important to me is to explore my surroundings at my own leisure and to enjoy all that it has to offer. I’ve always had a keen affection towards the cowboy lifestyle and the rural freedom that it conjures up in my mind.  

Yesterday's ride was a delight. I explored a lesser known route. Along my route I came upon several different animal species, a hearty farm fresh breakfast and an earth science lesson pertaining to the desert.

My ride was incredibly enjoyable and for this reason I’ve decided to share this ride with those in Dubai.  

I’ll be leading a true Rolling Cowboys ride, roughly 65km +/- out to an area most folks don’t visit.  

Here we’ll be able to stop and enjoy tea and coffee amongst an array of breakfast options, surrounded by horses, roaming wild pheasants and peacocks. If you’re lucky maybe even a picture with a falcon.

Keen to go? Please email at tube@rollingcowboys.com or join our strava group here: https://www.strava.com/clubs/2813

Pace dependent upon group, NMLB (No Man Left Behind).  

Cost: Zero unless purchasing at the cafe.

Meet: BOTS (Bottom of the Stick) Al Qudra Cycle Path

Time: 6:30AM

- Daniel

Jebel Jais - Designed for Heat

 Jebel Jais, RAK, UAE

Jebel Jais, RAK, UAE

Riding in Dubai and surrounding areas is quite limited, limited mostly by height. There are only four areas upon which one can venture out using their inner chain ring or getting out of the saddle without being in the drops for a 500m sprint.

Jebel Jais, the tallest mountain in the UAE, in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is not to be missed. Not for is height (2000 meters) but for it’s unique geography and landscape. Something out of another planet it provides a rise that unlike most climbs only gets hotter as you near the peak.

The road itself is paved and wide, with switchbacks nearing the top. Rock formations and mountain goats are about all that can endure life there.

It’s taking a seat upon the side rails overlooking the vast valley below that makes the achievement worth it. Being one of those climbs that is more about saying you’ve been there and limited to only a few in the country and can only be ridden during much cooler temperatures.

My first attempt, (when this picture was taken) my mates and I were out of water just halfway to the top. Two of us received heat stroke. The intensity caused bottle lids to pop open several times (Cheap branded bidon IMO and not mine) and the running joke quote on the way back, “Brother I can’t do it” as I nursed one of our friends up the mountain.

- Daniel

Is my bike OK?

 Al Qudra Cycle Path, Dubai UAE

Al Qudra Cycle Path, Dubai UAE

Riding in Dubai is not for that faint of heart. The experience of riding in the middle of the desert with no worry an automobile steered by a driver on too much ego blasting you at 160kph is no longer an issue. It takes a certain mentality to sustain riding in the desert once a week let alone 400 km plus. Fortunately for the novice, the Dubai Municipality has created near 200 km of dedicated bike paths around the city. Though that sounds like a lot and it is, these paths can become monotonous and over run with Triathletes, large groups, newbies and the general bike rider who’s out to experience a ride in the desert.

I ride 5-6 days a week putting in 12 hours average. I find these paths to be some of the most mind numbing and dangerous paved routes I’ve ever ridden in. Having a path is great for some and mostly the novice but builds a false sense of security and develops little actual riding skills.

This leads to people with endless incomes looking to break up the sedentary lifestyle to compete for any advantage to beat the next guy or get their fastest time on Strava. Flaunting the best of the best the cycle world has to offer but not fully understanding the very basics of what it takes to ride safely and correctly and get the most from their ride mentally or physically.

Open 24 hours your ride in the middle of desert, located miles away from populous areas the largest track and most used is the most dangerous for inexperienced riders. 120km of paved path with uninterrupted views of small dunes and sand vistas or a moon you feel you can reach out and touch. The closest forms of population lie in a beautiful boutique hotel, convenient store, mosque, fast food vendors, a horse store and an inadequate rental bike shop. All of which are not open 24 hours and located at the parking lot upon where you begin.

This means that as being on the road with the rest of the world you’re just as on your own but even worse. If you don’t have adequate hydration, and extra tube or emergency gear, you truly put your life at risk. More so than riding in an area with homes or even petrol stations.

Just like riding at night without lights on the street it becomes even more dangerous when you have an angry triathlete or group coming at you 35 kph + and cannot see you do to not being lit adequately. Then comes the real emergency, what do you do? You wait for another rider or lie unconscious in the middle of a desert where help could be an hour away.

My next post I’ll show the positives of riding on these dedicated paths but thought it worth hinting to what its like riding here outside the hype of PR and Tourist campaigns

- Daniel

If you’d like to see my rides please follow me on Strava; daniel.gellis I do not stick to the path

Locked in love

 Lake Zurich, Zurich Switzerland

Lake Zurich, Zurich Switzerland

Zurich has to be one of my top favourite cities to visit. Spring and Summer, explode in colours and the rivers are filled with locals riding inner tubes and rafts lazily into the sunset.

Sometimes after a ride through the city I stand on one of the many bridges that cross Lake Zurich and take in my time there, riding with the cows, train trips to the BMC factory in Grenchen, which is always a treat or out to Bern to visit STROMER factory and founder Thomas Binggeli at his family farm eating barbecued horse.

No matter what the experience, Zurich never disappoints and my favourite place to visit is the Freitag flagship container tower and yard off the tracks in an industrial portion of the city. There I can visit thrift stores, design studios, organic cafe’s and independent clothing stores.

- Daniel

The road to discovery

 Kiosco Morisco, Santa Maria la Ribera, Mexico City, MX

Kiosco Morisco, Santa Maria la Ribera, Mexico City, MX

No different than most, I get excited once my purchase of a ticket to a new destination is completed.  Trying very hard, I ignore most reviews and opinions on where it is I'm going, preferring to almost blindly, maybe naively experiencing the location as if I'm the first to discover.

Making sure there's enough music I'll push the headphones in my ear and clip away.  Having no idea where I'm going, no time constraint, I'm here to explore and discover.  This is what riding a bicycle is for me.  

Getting lost in my own mind, allowing the music, smells and visual stimulus to transport me into a near out of body experience, I smile at every person I make eye contact with.  Letting the landscape etch memories I'll never forget and ensuring the next time that song comes on i'm in that exact space mentally even if not physically.

It's then I begin to see the colours, textures and light that give me inspiration to create designs that not only look good but have meaning and remind me of what the bike is all about.  

- Daniel