Profession: English Teacher for the UAE Military forces
When did you get into cycling, and what has made you so passionate about it?
Like many other runners, I got into cycling as something to do while recovering from a running injury. I got into triathlons in 2009 in Saudi Arabia with the Riyadh Triathletes, out of sheer boredom originally. I had grown to love the sports and the training, but moved to Iraq in 2011 for work and couldn’t train for three years. Since moving to the UAE a year ago, I haven’t looked back. Most of all I love the freedom of going out on the bike and blasting the cobwebs away, either on my own, with friends or in competition.
What’s your opinion on the UAE as a place for cycling and triathlons?
Although a lot of people complain about the heat and humidity, the UAE is actually an excellent place to train. It hardly rains here and there are purpose built cycling tracks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which we are very lucky to be able to use. Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi opens to the public for cycling and running 2-3 times per week. The Autodrome in Dubai is also a fantastic spot for cycling. Apart from this, I also love to ride up and down mountains, and for that we have Jebel Jais in RAK, Jebel Hafeet in Abu Dhabi (Al Ain), Hatta and Oman right on our doorstep. There are some fantastic climbs in thearea around Nizwa.
What cycling events have you participated in the UAE?
The UAE has been hosting plenty of events and I have been fortunate enough to participate in many of them. I won the first position in the Male category at the Jebel Hafeet Cycle Race. In the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon long course, I placed second position in my age category. I won the first place in the recently held Besport Individual Time trial at Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi. I have also participated in TriYas and Abu Dhabi Cycle Race. On the international front, I participated in Ironman France, Nice 2016 (the first event), which I finished in ten hours and four minutes.
Which other countries have you cycled in?
France, Italy, UK, Vietnam, Spain, Austria, South America, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
How well do you train for events?
I train for triathlon and cycling together for 12-14 hours per week, on average. I plan to increase my training for the upcoming season and beat two hours five minutes for the Olympic Distance Triathlon and four hours thirty minutes for the Half Ironman distance (Bahrain Half Ironman in December and Dubai Half Ironman in January). I would like to win my age group at Abu Dhabi ITU International Triathlon.
How would you like to promote cycling and triathlon in this region?
Cycling and Triathlon are getting bigger and bigger in the UAE, and the more people get into it, the more awareness there is of the sport and the safer it becomes on the roads as people get used to seeing us out there riding. I aim to get onto a race team this year and help to encourage young people and kids to get off the sofa, away from their smartphones and tablets and into the parks, cycle tracks and beautiful beaches of
the UAE. There are many encouraging initiatives in Abu Dhabi and Dubai which are raising awareness of health and fitness for the general population. The faster that develops, the better!
Any memorable incident that you would like to share with our readers?
I recently crashed my bike on Jebel Hafeet, because I was riding too fast down the mountain. So, my advice is have fun, but stay safe and always watch what’s going on around you.
Interview by: Bandana Jain
Photos by: Oluwaseyi Gerrard Usman