By Aida Al Busaidy
As a kid, I self-taught myself a lot of things … including the art of cycling. I call it an art because it’s about balance as much as it is about control; it’s also about having a sense of direction and a sense of purpose.
Everyone else had a bicycle when I was a kid, because back in the ‘80s in Dubai meant spending a lot of time outdoors and showing off your new bike or its accessories or racing skills.
I suppose it was a mix of nostalgic and proving a point coupled with my flare for challenges and fun, that led me to participate in the annual “Cycle to Work UAE” initiative. The initiative has seen support from their highnesses including Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and the Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
The leadership doesn’t just endorse initiatives, they also participate in them which motivates others into being a part of something that is larger than them; that enhances their understanding and well-being but also encourages the community into coming up with even better ideas that can raise the bar of living in the UAE.
My personal venture followed in the footsteps of our leadership but I have a goal for 2016—and then some: to just go for it. “It” could be anything. I don’t want to be held back by anything or anyone because at the end of it all, I want to look back each year and say I accomplished 1 per cent more than the previous year, which should count for something. And just like the many who inspire me, I would like to inspire others to look at life differently—be it cycling, learning a new language, or just bettering oneself.
Apart from feeling relief that I hadn’t forgotten how to cycle, this initiative taught me how we are so caught up in our own world that it’s hard to see it from another person’s perspective. I noticed a lot more people cycling today, not just those who are passionate about it or are doing it for a cause, but those for whom a bicycle is their daily mode of transportation.
Our infrastructure does not allow for cyclists to feel safe which was a major concern for my co-cyclist Charmaine and I as we ventured out on the roads with two more friends, two Tanya and Alia who drove ahead, like our convoys, in a bid to protect us from speedy motorists. They also had the additional role of documenting our 40-minute ride.
At some point, we had to get off the road because the large trucks had begun getting on the highway. While my energy levels were telling me that I could do it and the inner S-hero in me wanted to stay motivated, safety concerns took over my decision-making process.
All in all, the support I received before, during and after the experience was overwhelming: cheers, concern about health and safety and pats on the back for all involved. It was definitely a spontaneous activity worth being a part of.