For some long-term Dubai expats, the meteoric rise of the city has also been at the expense of losing what they remember as the close-knit community of older Dubai, particularly with the recent closure of two of the longest running expatriate clubs.
Yet with a growing number of organised clubs and activities, there are still many opportunities for like-minded people with similar interests to get together. This month, Dubai Living looks at outdoor fitness-related activities that also perform a social function within the community.
“The Dubai Roadsters is a diverse group of riders with a variety of skills and fitness levels,” says Wolfgang Hohmann from Wolfis Bike Shop on the Sheikh Zayed Road. “All riders are welcome to join the weekly rides as long as they have a bike in good working condition, a helmet, and lights for the night rides. Most importantly, you must have a passion for cycling.”
There are three regular rides every week - evening training rides on Sundays and Tuesdays, and a longer ride on Friday mornings. For newcomers to bunch riding, the first Sunday ride of every month focuses on ‘bunch riding etiquette’ and safety tips. Membership is free, but be ready for an early start for the weekend rides.
“Friday morning we meet at the Lime Tree Cafe on Jumeirah Beach Road at 6am,” Wolfi explains. “The initial group is usually around 100 to 120 riders, though this is reduced after each turn-around point 35 kilometres into the ride. There are three ride distances of approximately 75 kilometres, 100 kilometres, and 120 kilometres. Support vehicles follow the main bunch and one vehicle will return with each group as they turn back for home.” Contact: 04-3394453 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Support car volunteers can get in touch with Ian at email@example.com or Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org. All help is greatly appreciated.
For those who would like to do some offroad riding, visit Dubai’s Mountain Bike Club at www.hot-cog.com. This is not a beginner’s club. You will need to be fit and have some mountain biking experience.
Those that would like to take part the longestablished tradition of ‘hashing’, where the running is often secondary to the beveragefuelled socialising that follows, can get in touch with Stuart Wakeham from the Desert Hash House Harriers. Stuart describes a typical evening.
“The ‘hares’ for the evening set a trail, normally marked with straws, paint or chalk depending upon the terrain, for the pack to find and follow,” he explains. “On average, the run takes about 45 minutes. Locations are different from week to week, with start times normally half an hour before sunset.
“Dubai being the sort of place it is, we welcome visiting ‘hashers’ almost every week, as indeed our members are welcomed at other hashes as they travel the world.”
Hashing started in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930s and has developed into a worldwide organisation, with thousands of hash clubs all following a similar format but with their own particular slant.
Does one need to be an athlete? “Certainly not,” says Stuart. “You may run/walk/talk/shortcut as you wish. Hashing should be strictly non-competitive. You need a sense of humour. Thats about it.” Contact Stuart on 050-4542635 or email@example.com
Those looking for a more ‘focused’ running or walking activity can also contact:
• Dubai Creek Striders - a medium-to-long distance running club that supplied 50 runners to last year’s Dubai Marathon and that meets every Friday at 6am opposite the Novatel Hotel at the Dubai World Trade Centre Exhibition Halls. Contact Malcolm Murphy on 04-3728500, 050-6456878, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.dubaicreekstriders.com.
• Dubai Road Runners - for shorter distance running, runs around the perimeter of Safa Park, Jumeirah, every Saturday evening. The group meets at 6.30pm in the car park at gate 4. Contact Graham Rafferty on 050-6243213, email@example.com, or visit www.dubai-road-runners.com.
• Stride for life - a scientific walking and running programme based on one’s individual lifestyle and fitness level that meets at Safa Park. An initial assessment is used to establish a recommended fitness programme, which then progresses as time goes on. Contact Deborah on 050-6577057 or visit www.strideforlife.com.
Finally, while a more commercially-based operation with a much lesser social function than those above, you might want to check out Desert Rangers, with activities including canoeing, trekking, organised camping, rock climbing, desert driving courses, deep sea fishing, plus its recently-introduced ‘Learning Through Adventure’ programme for schools. Visit www.desertrangers.com.