When you think of top cycling destinations, Dubai might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, The United Arab Emirates is proving to be a cycling-friendly destination with purpose-built cycling tracks, planned routes, and new cycling clubs appearing throughout the region. And it is also host to one of the sport’s newest and biggest tour events.
Pro cycling in Dubai
The UAE Tour was first held in 2019 following the merger of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours. The race forms part of the UCI World Tour and has really put the region on the professional cycling map. It remains the one and only tour race in the Middle East. The inaugural edition was won by Slovenian Primoz Roglic – who’s already holding a top-six spot in the cycling betting to win the 2020 Tour de France – and featured other seasoned riders such as Spain’s Alejandro Valverde and Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands.
Amateur cycling in Dubai
Dubai caters well for those who like to cycle for fun. The climate between October and May is suited to the sport and there are plenty of dedicated cycling routes. There is an outdoor cycling track at Nad Al Sheba Park which offers changing rooms, lockers and shower rooms as well as a choice of 4km, 6km and 8km circuits. The whole circuit is lit up at night for those who prefer to ride in the cooler night air.
The Al Qudra Cycle Track offers longer routes that take you further into the desert landscape with 18km and 50km circuits available. Along the way is a five-star hotel resort where you can stop to refuel. Bikes can also be hired from an outlet next to the entrance to the circuit.
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Head to the mountains
Not far from Dubai is a zone known as Hatta where the terrain becomes more rugged and is more suited to mountain bikes. There are rocks, stony tracks, hills and breathtaking views along the 52km trail. The site also has its own MTB center where bikes and protective gear can be hired. There are routes to suit all levels and guides to help you and give you the best advice.
Dubai’s city parks also feature cycle paths – although the parks do close at night time. There is also a waterfront path of approximately 12km from which you can enjoy wonderful views of the Dubai Water Canal as well as the city’s numerous beaches.
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Where to Avoid
Cycling on main roads and footpaths is not permitted in Dubai. While you may see some cyclists still use footpaths (and the police often turn a blind eye), it’s best to avoid following their example. The exception to the ban are footpaths that have shared status with clearly marked pedestrian and cycle zones. Cyclists are permitted to ride on roads that are classed as secondary but with over 20 official cycle tracks, there is little need to do so. Helmets must be worn at all times.
Cycling is a great way to see the city of Dubai and more cycle tracks are being planned all the time. If you are serious about cycling and want to know how to get the best out of your trip, you could also contact one of the local clubs that host weekly group rides of up to 140km.