The physical benefits of cycling are immense. As well as being a low-impact alternative to running that’s kinder on joints, it’s also an excellent workout for the lungs, heart and all manner of muscle groups. Best of all, if done outside, it can be a social activity and one that allows you to see parts of Qatar from a different perspective.
Tools for the Job
A road bike comes in many forms but all will have thin wheels and smooth tires. You can ride a mountain bike on the road but a road bike will weigh less and go faster for less effort. Perhaps most people’s image of a road bike will be that of the Tour de France racer and something like that will be your best choice if you want to ride fast . These bikes are designed to enable you to lean forward into a streamlined positionwhich make riding in Qatar’s winds easier.
However, such positions require both fitness and flexibility and that is why some prefer a flat bar bike where you’ll be seated in a more upright relaxed position.
Between these extremes, bike manufacturers have realized that their market isn’t all super fit and they also produce racing bikes with more relaxed positions. With all this choice, the question of which bicycle is the right one for you is not always easy to answer and is best handled by well-informed bike shop staff. Buy the best you can afford but also remember that having any bike is better than no bike.
The only other thing you really need is a helmet. This protects your head in the event of a fall and is likely to become a legal requirement in Qatar. A purpose made bicycle helmet is lightweight and vented to allow air flow and, if well-fitted, you won’t notice you are wearing it.
Padded cycling gloves and shorts, cycling shirts which don’t flap in the wind, cycling shoes with stiff soles to allow you to push the pedals harder. All these are not needed until you start going further and faster. Until then, use regular sports clothes. A helmet and bicycle are all you really need.
Hiring a Bike
On this page we are assuming that you want to make cycling a regular hobby but if you want to try before you buy it is possible to rent a bicycle at Lusail Circuit on their training nights. See Where to ride for more about this. You can also rent a bike from Rasen Adventure Shop.
Learn to Ride
Qatar doesn’t currently have any classes where adults can learn to cycle, but look, you don’t need them! The fundamentals are to learn to balance, brake, steer and pedal and Qatar’s parks and compounds are ideal places to practice these.
Step 1: Prepare the bike by lowering the saddle. Ideally, you’ll be able to touch the ground with your toes when seated but it’s ok if it takes a small lean to achieve this. Also remove the pedals; at this stage they will get in your way.
Step 2: On level ground, push yourself along using your feet. As you gain confidence, start to push and glide. How long can you glide before you need to push again?
Step 3: Before you get too confident, you’d better get some control! When gliding, gently squeeze your brakes to bring you to a stop. Be ready to place one or both feet on the ground. Now start to play with the speed – try to stop quicker or instead of stopping, just slow down.
Step 4: As you glide, lean very slightly left then right. Notice that the bike moves in the direction of the lean. When this feels easy and you can weave left and right up the street, start to also use the handlebars. You have completed step 4 when you can make a U-turn in the street.
Step 5: Put the pedals back on. Raise a pedal on one side to the 3 o’clock position and push down with your foot. Use this single push to glide along the street. Now make sure you still remember how to brake and steer.
Step 6: When you can glide confidently from a single pedal push, you now have time to keep pedaling. Practice steps 3 and 4 while pedaling. Now you can ride a bike and can raise the saddle.
Step 7: Teach your children. They can learn in exactly the same way. From the age of 3-4, children can master the pedal turning and balance required to ride.
Tips for the Road Ahead
- Because most of us learned to cycle as children, we can have unrealistic expectations of our abilities as adults. Build your fitness and take time to enjoy feeling stronger, faster and slimmer.
- Join a club where you’ll find friends to motivate you.
- Keep your cycling fitness in the summer months by joining a spin class at your local gym.
- Get a coach. He/she isn’t just for the elite, think of a coach as a personal trainer to keep cycling always interesting. Clubs like Qatar Cyclists provide coaching for their members.
- Set yourself a challenge. Ride further or faster or aim to complete a mass ride like the Ride of Champions.
- Find somewhere new to ride. Here are some ideas