People: Roisin Thomas

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Age: 27
Nationality: Irish
Profession: Personal Trainer

Roisin Thomas’s passion for cycling is quite evident from the fact that she is the first woman to cycle across the UAE in an impressive time of eighteen hours. For someone whose life revolves around cycling, Roisin is all set to promote a healthier lifestyle in the country.

The challange is one of its kind in UAE, where 5 guys took it upon themselves to cycle across the country (7 Emirates) in just 24 hours.

When did you get into cycling?
Funnily enough, my first love was swimming and running. I got actively into cycling some three years back when I moved to Abu Dhabi. Before this, I used to cycle on and off back home in Ireland on my Uncle’s bike.

You are the first woman to cycle across the UAE within 24 hours. How did this happen?
I have always been an advocate for challenging myself and trying things in an extreme way. The inspiration came to me when I began finding day to day cycling rather monotonous. I was getting bored of the same tracks, the same peer groups and the same time frames. That’s when I started looking to do something new. This idea came up and I had the support of my four male cyclists. I cannot thank them enough for their support and team work that went into the task behind the scenes.

Tell us more about the event
We began at the Aldar HQ building in Abu Dhabi and ended at Nad al Sheba Cycle Park in Dubai. We started at 5am on 11th May 2016 and ended at 2:30am the
following day, cycling through one sunrise and one sunset, covering a total distance of 467km. The journey, which spanned roughly 18 hours, was well ahead of schedule.

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What was your objective behind this feat, and how did you feel after completing the challenge?
The whole objective was to prove that things which seem impossible, are not actually so. I believe that one has to deliberately put oneself out of their comfort zone in order to transform into a better
version. I am inspired to do so much more after the success of this feat. I feel accomplished in the fact that I am an inspirational role model.

What kind of obstacles did you face in this journey?
Before the actual ride, I experienced a lot of stress, exhaustion and at some point in time, felt that I was over training. During the ride, several weather factors like headwind, sand, heat and humidity posed a challenge.
Despite all of this, my spirits generally remained high throughout the ride itself.

What have been your other achievements as far as cycling is concerned?
I have achieved quite a lot in the UAE in terms of cycling. In most of the races I enter, I am on the podium. I have been part of the events running in Al Wathbha during this summer (individual time trials).

Apart from cycling, what other sports do you enjoy?
I enjoy swimming every other day and I like going to the gym sometimes for upper body strength. I also enjoy jet skiing and snowboarding. I would like to try Mountain Biking and also kite surfing.

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How has your cycling experience been in the UAE?
It has been absolutely fantastic. I have been very fortunate that I have met some lovely people during my time here and have had countless opportunities. I am very fortunate to have my sponsor, BeSport, to support me in all my races. I cannot thank them enough, especially my colleague and brother Raslan Abbadi.

What do you have to say about the cycling situation in the UAE?
With the government investing heavily in a growing number of tracks, the UAE is definitely heading in the right direction. The growing enthusiasm of the population towards cycling and the increasing number of clubs are all a significant part of the budding cycling community out here. I would like to see more of a community for cycling in Abu Dhabi, and in particular some more group rides.

Any advice to our readers?
My advice is to prioritise what is important in your life. Surround yourself with people of the same outlook and positivity. For me cycling is a priority and my friendships and relationships stem from it.


Interview by: Bandana Jain

Photos by: Supplied

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