On the road

Rambles and musings from the road

Climbing a steady grade I wonder what my missing WATTAGE is

Climbing a steady grade I wonder what my missing WATTAGE is

Never did I ever think I’d have one thought about missing power. Back in green rolling hills and perfect weather I’ve been motivated to ride nearly every day possible. Southern California has to be some of the best riding year round and having just arrived back after another year in the desert, I’m taking all opportunities.

The one thing I caught myself pondering was I wonder how many watts I’m putting out on these roads compared to the flat lands of Dubai. One of my biggest peves was hearing about FTP tests, wattage peaks, thresholds and intervals from “analysis paralysis” riders.

This is what I used to care and think about when it came to power and wattage; am i producing enough to power a light bulb? If so how many light bulbs and for how long? Now I catch myself wondering well what type of road and at what speed/cadence am I going to produce the same amount of power as compared to… (some arbitrary repeat on the UAE Cycling tracks)

I’ve seen analysis paralysis affect many people including myself. The biggest being I no longer want to know the grade I’m climbing. (Seeing the percentage in a little box on my screen caused me to slow down and conserve) I no longer care how much I’ve climbed during a ride. (Another cause for me to slow down and conserve)

But here we are, in perfect weather, rolling hills across clear skies with paved roads for days and I catch myself wondering what my effort is. At “X” cadence, “Y” bpm and “A” grade.

Guess I’ll have to reinstall the battery and find out.

Dubai Sucks For Cycling

A common RULES sign for public places

A common RULES sign for public places

This is not some hipster irony this is a truth. I’ve been riding here for three years. The amount of fear of cyclists on the road is unbelievable. This comes from both cyclists and non-cyclists. We all know that cycling in itself is inherintly a dangerous activity. You could fall, run over something, have a mechanical and many other things happen to cause injury but the general rule in Dubai is that cycling is unsafe on the road. I’ve witnessed far far more crashes on the cycle path here than anywhere on the roads of the UAE.

Having a predominant Ex-patriat population and not much else to do (weather and geography do play a part) cycling has grown as an Elitist form of physical activity. Cycling in Dubai is not dissimilar to gym, muscle bound weekly work outs that draw 1000’s of people to become “Trainers”.

Beats walking, Cyclists riding through park, Deira, Dubai UAE

Beats walking, Cyclists riding through park, Deira, Dubai UAE

God bless Dubai and the UAE, they have created some spectacular bicycle paths. Truly world level. But it’s the mentality of the people that have taken over these paths. The vast majority of riders never have cycled outside of the UAE and very little in their home country. These bike paths are a double edge sword. They’ve done what was asked of them by creating a safe haven for cyclists to ride away from vehicular traffic. What they haven’t done is teach these riders any skills or how to ride with others let alone vehicular traffic.

Instead of starting a rant on FB or other social media, I’ve created a photo series to show that cycling isn’t just about what you ride, what you’re wearing and your latest FTP. That some people ride on the daily, the very streets these Lycra Clad Ex-pats on their fancy plastic bikes wouldn’t dare of.

Tool wall in bike shop in Deira, Dubai, UAE

Tool wall in bike shop in Deira, Dubai, UAE

Personally I ride both, trying to ride as much as I possibly can off track and from my front door. Often only possible on holidays or weekends as where I live, proximity to the city and heat don’t always make it feasable. This doesn’t mean I still don’t get my 2-300km per week in, sometimes starting at 4-5am. It hurts being a cyclist that has owned bicycle stores, run large bicycle distributors and being an industry insider to see and hear the bakwas (Urdu for bullshit) that spews from many riders mouths, when I reject or am seen riding on the streets, off the bicycle path.

I’m not trying to cause a revolution but with the perfect roads Dubai has, flat wide lanes and long straights it’s a dream for bicycles and awareness does far more than your car or a small cycle track.

Commuting on perfect roads in Deira, Dubai UAE

Commuting on perfect roads in Deira, Dubai UAE

There are countless studies showing that cyclists pay more taxes, relieve traffic congestion, health benefits, outweigh fossil fuels and so on. I’m no expert, i’ve just read quite a few reports.

What my goal with this series of photos is to show that cycling is for everyone, that riding a bicycle is a global phenomenon that dates back well before the country of the UAE was even created. That throwing millions of dollars for UCI Road races that NOBODY spectates or cares about would maybe rather be better spent on infrastructure and eductation. I tire of hearing excuses as the rest of the world, literally rides along with vehicles everyday.

I truly hope you enjoy these series of photographs (more to come) and see that Cycling in Dubai is not all about the latest and greatest. That it’s not all hype and fashion (though it is in a lot of ways) and that there are a large amount of daily riders risking their lives riding on the streets.

Lacing a set of wheels. Dubai, UAE

Lacing a set of wheels. Dubai, UAE

5 Rules to travel by

My passport

My passport

Having been to and worked in over 20 different countries I’ve found a few tricks and rules to make travelling much easier. Here are my top 5 in no particular order.

Rule #1

Always have a US $20 bill on you. Over any other fiat currency the US dollar (no matter how you feel about it) will get you out of trouble in any situation. I’ll give you two examples. Example #1, (this one is a double rule story*) I took a business trip to Taiwan for the Taipei Cycle Show. The company I was working with at the time failed to provide the correct information for my colleague and I resulting in our plane tickets not being issued.

Our flight was after 9pm and everything was closed. I had to purchase both, my colleague and my airline tickets using my card. (My colleague was ready to throw in the towel and go home, I couldn’t as I’d scheduled meetings for the next day)

After succesful payment and processing we made the flight being the last two people boarded on the plane. Upon arrival I had hoped we would be able to exchange our currency (Dirhams). Taiwan was like, “UHM, What’s a dirham?” So, that was a bust. We went to the taxi stand where upon I had to find any taxi that would accept only cards to get us to our hotel. (don’t rely upon airport WiFi or data) We found one and made our way.

Hungry and our hotel not being near anything, (Thank you company itinerary manager) I asked if we could exchange money at the hotel. Again, they were like, “Dirhams, what is this funny paper you hand me?” I then asked where the nearest bank machine was and they showed me a 7/11 looking ATM outside the lobby. Of course it didn’t accept my card as it wasn’t one on their system. It was then that I looked inside my Passport wallet and found a US $20 bill.

I looked at my colleague and exclaimed, “Aha, we can eat” went back to the lobby of our hotel and exchanged money for local currency.

Example #2; I was recently in Beirut, Lebanon. Its sunday, I’m staying at an Airbnb, (I prefer over hotels in most cases now) and I’m starving. I’d spent all my lebanese pounds on a taxi ride the previous night and figured i’d go to one of the many awesome cafe’s Beirut has to offer.

I was correct, great little place, quaint, filled with local artisans work, glass facade and light menu. After enjoying my meal and proceeding to pay. Their card machine did not work. Attempt after attempt it just wouldn’t take. Sincerely apologetic they offered me to come back, problem being I was leaving that afternoon and hunting down an atm to obtain a currency I don’t need and be hit with exchange fees wasn’t any interest. Out comes the US $’s.

Now I didn’t have to feel guilty, stip them nor leave any bad juju.

Rule #2

Download this app: Maps.me https://maps.me/ Often, even if you pre-pay for data or roaming it doesn’t always work. This is a walking application. Cheap only $3 a year of free with ads. People don’t always speak the same language even if you or they think they do. Maps.me isn’t the best map app I’ve ever used but it’s great to get you around on foot, when other, cough, cough, apps aren’t working or only work on data connections.

Rule #3

SMILE, don’t be an asshole. It amazes me how far I get with just an honest smile. It’s not hard for me when I arrive or visit a new place. I get excited like a little kid and that energy transfers. I’ve been interogated by border control officers, customs, military police before they look at me and I just show how excited I am to be there. I don’t know where I’m going, this stupid map showed me the way, etc. added with an ear to ear smile and WHAM. Doors open.

Rule #4

Eat local. Always. Please I beg of you, stay away from the chains, domestic or international. Firstly, you’ll always have a better meal, you’ll learn something about the culture you’re in and you’ll make new friends. I cannot say enough how from eating locally, i’ve learned where to go, what to do, the best route, etc. You’ll save money more often than not as well and help support a family. Not just a corporation cutting costs whilst promoting their sanitary agenda.

Rule #5

This rule is more for Men. Bring a collared shirt and a razor. I don’t care where you go or how you do it, having those two items will ensure you are ready for anything. Being open you never know what you might be invited or stumble into. Thus if it’s clubs you’re after, many have a dress code. If its governmental, a clean shaved face goes very far.

There are many other rules and suggestions I can say that i’ve learned from first hand experience but these would be the top 5.

*Photocopy and Electronic copy of passport (not just on a cloud/off storage device), Photocopy of bank cards, Wet napkin or napkin packets. (Different cultures have different lavatory customs ;)

Feel free to comment with your favorite tips or ask me what others I have.

I feel like screaming

Stray cat, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Stray cat, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Yes, it’s been sometime since the last post. The past few months I’ve had quite a few people tell me some pretty awesome stuff about myself. Things I knew but feared and just now I think i’m in a place to finally listen and do something about it.

One of the most recurring themes I heard was, I need to keep shooting pictures. That as much as cycling is a passion and a need for physiological and mental health, exploring is in my heart. I’m the only person in my immediate family with a passport and I’ve damn near filled up my latest in less than a few years.

I’m writing this more as a personal diary and to try and get into the habit of posting more, so please bear with me. I’ll begin posting more and more photos, writing as much as I can. Please tell me, and I truly invite you to, what you think and if you want to know more about the images.

It’s very hard for me to express myself as to how I see and feel the world other than through photos.

Men watching demolition of a building, Sharjah - United Arab Emirates

Men watching demolition of a building, Sharjah - United Arab Emirates

Taking it out to the stables

Al Jihad Stables, Dubai UAE

Al Jihad Stables, Dubai UAE

The 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