What cycling styles & characters are you likely to encounter next time you are out and about…and which one are you?
I’m talking about the misguided souls who devote an often-inordinate amount of time, expense, and mental capacity to turning the pedals. We know from experience that there are myriad different cycling styles & characters out there and every club, pack and social ride will feature a heady blend of personas.
So, if pro-peloton features the GC rider, domestique, sprinter, puncheur and mountain goat how do we categorise the mere mortals? Applying the rule of five here’s our take on the cycling styles & characters you are likely to come across when next out on the road.
‘Il Meccanico’ – The Mechanic;
• Easily spotted as generally found using an aero helmet on your local roads and will smell of lube
• Level of bike tech (and expenditure) would make a Grenadier blush…will hyperventilate at any suggestion of Di3 being on the way
• Pre-ride routine begins minimum 48hrs before depart and involves a complete strip down and rebuild of bike, usually resulting in mid-ride grumbles about ‘indexing’.
• A worthy road ally as, barring a snapped frame, can fix anything roadside (snapped frame fixing can only be done once back at the pickup). Be aware that without strong intervention this can often turn into a 2hr road side service as the mechanic picks out other set up failures.
• Warning – on particularly sunny days watch out for temporary blindness from the machine polished chain….NEVER look directly at the chain
‘De Wetenschapper’ – The Scientist;
• Likely to be last to arrive at the start due to last minute tweaking of tyre pressures brought about by 1% change in humidity
• Identified by the various charts taped to handlebars and top tube detailing gear ratios, fluid intake times, gradients, historical average winds speeds and traffic light sequencing for the route
• Pre-ride routine can be hard to call, hydration and nutritional tailoring can often begin weeks before the 30km club ‘cake ride’. Final steps include 3 hours of bikram yoga and application of 2kilos of Nasa-grade sensors and monitors to both man and machine
• Valuable road buddy, always armed with an array of nuts, gels, juices, caffeine pills, homemade paleo seed bars and adrenalin shots should you arrive only with a jam sandwich (although be prepared to answer various probing questions about your diet, medical history and ancestry before the right Ecuadorian heirloom banana is presented to you)
‘L’ombre’ – The Shadow;
• Hard to spot, natural habitat directly behind your back wheel at all times. If you see someone standing behind various riders, checking the wind before you set off this may well be a Shadow
• Best time for spotting is normally around 50 meters from the end as can suddenly appear on your shoulder looking remarkably refreshed (despite the block headwind you’ve been slogging through for the last hour). Will likely be a fleeting glimpse as they sail past
• Limited value on the road however have been known to offer a few words of ‘encouragement’ from behind, which can lead to you finding fresh impetus borne out of sheer bloody rage
‘The Power Ranger’;
• A frightening combo of the above. Easily identifiable – look for the perma-tan, achingly coordinated sunnies, jersey, helmet trifecta and impeccable sock game. Whether the route features more left or right turns will determine which uber spec bike is chosen for the occasion
• Ride prep unnecessary, the Power Ranger lives in a state of permanent readiness where every daily action is simply calibrating the mind and body ahead of the next ride. Learn more about this (and which Moldovan mineral water you should be drinking 3 days before your ride) from their nutrition diary (yep)
• Questionable value on the road as they like to be ‘in the breakaway (solo)’ or ‘up the road’. May stick with the group if conditions are poor but will be third wheel…always third wheel (ask the Scientist why when you have a spare 90 minutes)
• While you can often find multiple examples of the other three types of rider there can only ever be one Power Ranger. Should another present themselves chaos will ensue as each desperately tries to fit aerobars. Agreed ride pace will consign itself to the dustbin at this point. As a solution ask one to assume role of ‘ride leader’ (highest honour for the Power Ranger) but beware, this will lead to a deluge of obscure road signals for duration of ride
‘Il Cavaliere Facile’ – The Easy Rider
• The most common rider and one which most people identify with. It can be pouring with rain, blazing sun or a full on windtunnel and you’ll still see the Easy Rider chatting with other riders, pulling a turn or sharing a flapjack. Some rides they’ll be knocking out PB’s at the front, a week later they’ll be hanging off the back regretting a ‘bit of a late one last night’
• Bikes vary massively, some battered, bruised and requiring a bit of TLC (like their owners), others will be custom builds and there will always be a few ‘once in a lifetime’ (I promise) machines knocking around
• Pre-ride prep is a lottery, sometimes channelling their inner mechanic or scientist, other times diving out of bed and arriving coffee in hand, sockless. Last minute prep often involves asking a complete stranger if they have spare helmet
• Essential to every ride, can be a purely social coffee and cake ride, a personal best attempt or first go at a century. Regardless they’ll be there to keep bunch together, give bit of encouragement when it gets tough and get everyone to the end.
• Irrespective of finishing position will always be first to the coffee shop / bar
In truth there’s a bit of each rider in all of us, sometimes our inner scientist is more dominant, other times the mechanic takes over and occasionally the planets align and we find ourselves as a Power Ranger clicking off the miles and smashing our PB’s.
This is the beauty of cycling – even though the route, and the people on it, may be the same every ride is different. Conditions change, we perform differently, and last week’s Mechanic is this week’s Easy Rider. And lets be totally honest – it’s awesome when its our turn to be The Shadow.
Cycling and coffee go hand in hand right? The pre / post / mid ride coffee stop is a time bound tradition and integral part of riding, giving us the opportunity to share Strava times (if they are any good), show off a new bit of kit or continue the slammed or not slammed stem argument (10 years and counting).
Whether it’s a weekend social or your midweek loosener, coffee is as important to cyclists as spare tubes and sunscreen so with this in mind we have put together a run down of Dubai’s coffee spots that we believe offer something for the cyclist. It may be that they are on a recognized cycling route, that they champion sustainable practices (something that most cyclists appreciate) or it may simply be that they have great coffee and are worth seeking out.
There is no order to the list, this is not a ranking, and you will notice that we haven’t included any of the local bike shop based cafes – this is not to say that they don’t do a great job – they do, this is about sharing some of the alternatives out there.
We have no affiliations with any of these places and have never received so much as a free sugar lump from them – we include them purely because we like them. For sure you will have your own favourites which we may have missed out so we’d be happy to hear about them…who knows, maybe this will start a new argument and give us a break from ‘to slam or not to slam’.
In Jumeriah 1 and just a couple of minutes away from The Cycle Hub this is a great option if you are riding up that way or popping out to pick up some spares. Their coffee is on point with lots of specialty brews available and the food menu has a bunch of tasty yet healthy options. Or you could just get the chicken parma and put your lycra to the test.
Unsurprisingly it gets crazy busy particularly at the weekends so best to call ahead
Recently relocated to Al Wasl Road in Umm Sequim 1 this is more than just a coffee joint. Yes the coffee is solid and the vegan driven menu takes the pain out of being vegan but you can also pick up limited edition sneakers and their own brand streetwear from the shop inside.
Anything else…oh yes, they have a barbers upstairs so you really can leave feeling and looking fresh…oh and they valet too (not sure about bikes but they do everything else so it wouldn’t surprise us) so whilst its probably not the best place to ride to its still worth checking out for sure.
Or ‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ as we like to call it after 3 hours in the saddle. Found at KOA Canvas in Al Barari this is more restaurant than coffee shop but with a great laid back vibe and friendly team you wont feel conspicuous sat head to toe in fluorescent lycra (and they have outside tables you can hide away on if needed).
A great spot to start and end your ride from with a dedicated cycle path taking you past Global Village up to the start of the stick and then onto the loop. Once you arrive back you can indulge in some of Dubai’s most creative and quality driven dishes including an awesome post-ride breakfast selection.
The Lowe team also champion sustainable ingredients and cooking techniques so you don’t really need any more reasons to visit. Ok, one more and it’s a good one……its licensed (from midday). Nominate a driver and then cool off with a nice cold beer or glass of wine. You could almost be in Italy
Aimed at riders of the motorized persuasion you may think this is an odd choice for this list but it merits inclusion on the strength of its food and coffee and the awesome value for money it offers. When you ask people what they think of when they think of Dubai ‘value for money’ isn’t exactly a top answer. At Café Rider you can get a coffee (made with beans roasted onsite) and their tasty bruschetta for only 30dhs all in and they give you free water on the table!
They also sell the different beans they roast to take away and will happily grind them for you if you wish, so you can enjoy even more value for money at home
Located in Al Quoz to ride here would be do-able but not for the faint of heart…better for a non-bike day.
So there you go – just a few a of our favourite spots to hang out, each offers something different but they are all super friendly and great at what they do. If you didn’t see your favourite here, or have a recommendation you want to share, then for sure let us know.
Chances are that you have noticed an increasing number of new cyclists as you head out on your bike, spare parts are like gold dust and the line to get a post ride coffee is now out of the door!
Cycling in the UAE is currently booming with more and more people experiencing or rediscovering the ‘enjoyment’ of lycra, chamois cream and getting up at 4am to beat the summer heat. As the ongoing pandemic sharpens the focus on living a healthier lifestyle cycling has come to the fore in giving people the ability to exercise in a socially distanced, outdoor environment whilst gyms and traditional group activities have become more restricted. Even experienced riders are riding more often as infrastructure, facilities and organization improves.
This is undoubtedly great for the sport and great for our general health and wellbeing but what about the environment?
Cycling has some obvious and significant benefits for our environment, especially when riders progress from riding purely as a hobby to using their bike for short journeys or even on their daily commute. Yet there is a problem that needs addressing….the widespread use of plastic within our sport.
Almost all cycling jerseys, bib shorts and sleeves are made of virgin, man made polyesters and nylons which are simply plastic by another name. Whether you ride in it until it falls apart, you upgrade your kit or your size changes once your old kit goes in the rubbish it becomes just another piece of plastic that ends up shredded in landfill or worse still in our oceans.
To give this some context almost 8milion tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year and it is now widely accepted that if this current rate continues plastics will outweigh all fish in the sea by 2050.
So how can you help?
There are an ever-increasing number of ways to help tackle this problem but below are some simple and easy ideas to begin with.
Buy certified sustainable kit – there are a growing number of brands that offer sustainable jerseys, bibshorts and sleeves made from entirely from recycled fabrics. Taking plastic and nylon waste from landfill or the ocean, this material is treated and recycled into new polyester and nylon with the exact same characteristics as virgin materials. This recycled material is then used to create new fabrics that look, feel, perform with no difference to the mass-produced fabrics traditionally used in our kit.
Look for a sustainable cycling brand that employs renewable energy in their manufacturing, water efficient manufacturing processes and use environmentally friendly dyes and chemicals in their products. It is also a recommended to check how your products are packaged – recycled and recyclable packaging is now widely available
Buy good quality kit that is designed to last – yes it may mean spending at little more in the beginning but buying less often helps reduce the amount of new plastics produced and the energy and water used in production. It will save you money in the long run and may even help shave valuable seconds off your personal best!
Don’t throw unwanted apparel away – can it be recycled or repurposed? Many brands are developing schemes to encourage its users to return damaged kit for repair and reconditioning thus reducing the amount of new plastics and saving valuable energy and water resources. These schemes are in their infancy but are growing day by day. If this isn’t yet available to you why not use your old kit as cleaning cloths or packing material. Whatever you use it for is a better option than it going in the bin.
To learn more about sustainable and eco-friendly cycling jerseys, bibshorts and sleeves or to find out more about why this is so important please visit us at www.emptyroads.com