DUBAI // A group of five cyclists are laying claim to being the first riders to bike through all seven emirates in less than 24 hours.
Team leader Roisin Thomas said the group completed the feat in about 21 hours.
Starting at 5.30am in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the Irish national said the group finished at 2.30am on Thursday morning – about 15 minutes ahead of schedule – at Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park in Dubai.
They covered almost 500 kilometres, crossing the entire country in less than a day, a feat they said had earned them a spot in the record book.
For Ms Thomas, who came up with the idea this year, completing the task brought out feelings of accomplishment.
“I wasn’t really excited, I was just really relieved that I did what I set out to do,” said the 27-year-old.
“Sometimes during the ride I wondered whether I could actually do this. But when we pulled into the cycling track there was just relief.”
The other riders were Emirati Buti Al Nuaimi, 27, Jordanian Raslan Abbadi, 29, Filipino Edmar Magbitan, 29, and South African Noel Stander, 29.
Ms Thomas said one of the highlights of the journey was cycling along the Fujairah coastline.
“You couldn’t ask for better weather conditions. It got very hot at midday when we were crossing the desert towards Fujairah,” she said. “There was a lot of headwind and the heat was incredible.
“We all held up as well as we could. There were times when we were approaching Ras Al Khaimah we knew we had a lot of climbing to do, and morale started going down.
“Once you hit that stage it’s hard to muster the positivity, but we managed to get back on the bikes.”
Another highlight was seeing the skyline of Dubai emerge in the distance, she said.
But after toiling all day on the UAE’s roads, she said the group was dismayed to find that two bridges that were supposed to bring them to the finish line were closed, forcing them to pedal an extra seven kilometres.
Throughout the journey they had the support of a trail car that provided candy bars, dates and other snacks, along with water and soda.
At the last stage, the cyclists drank hot tea to cool down. Ms Thomas said she had heard that the technique was effectively used by workers toiling outdoors during the sweltering summer.
(via The National)