When you think of top cycling destinations, Abu Dhabi, located in the United Arab Emirates just south of Dubai and not far from Saudi Arabia, isn’t one of them. But it turns out, according to CNN Travel, that this desert city plays host to lots of cycling outlets.
Even the Union Cycliste International (UCI), which classifies various destinations as worthy of inclusion if they are a hub of cycling activity, gave Abu Dhabi the designation of an official bike city. Here the roads are wide and in good condition but the temperatures can be brutal, especially from May to September with highs of 98 degrees that sometimes soar to 118 degrees.
That said, $460 million (1.7 billion dirhams) has been invested in cycling infrastructure. In addition to a racetrack where many hardcore cyclists train, or riding the sand dunes, or piloting a rental bike along bike paths, a new cycle track and velodrome are under construction. There are also plans for a bike path that will connect Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
The goal of all this expenditure and focus on cycling is to get people (locals) out and riding. However, Abu Dhabi truly wants to become a unique destination for tourists that want to take a cycling vacation. Visitors can rent a bike (or even buy a high-end bike) from Yas Mena, one of the 20 bike shops in the city, for $20 an hour.
Just keep in mind if you go to Abu Dhabi to bike, you’ll need to start very early in the morning (like around 6 am) or ride in the evening on lighted but empty roads with only the shifting sand across the asphalt once the sun has dipped down into the desert.
Have you ever been to Abu Dhabi? Have you experienced its cycling culture firsthand? How about Saudi Arabia?
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