We headed over to Al Qudra to check out the most ‘Instagrammable’ weekend hobby currently circulating social media accounts in Dubai, with the goal of attempting the 50km cycle loop. Located only 25 minutes away from Dubai Marina a visit to this much-loved cycling hotspot offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with AED 53 during in the week, or AED 95 at the granting access to a well-serviced Trek road bike and helmet to enjoy a few hours of smooth roads and the glorious Arabian desert views.
By Jordan Smith
We pitched up to the site at 9:30am and it seemed the majority of the weekend riders were already finished, which was an immediate red flag – we’ll get back to that. On arrival you’ll find a pleasant little café with an outdoor seating area to enjoy a coffee before you ride. We checked in at the Trek rental shop which is packed out with the latest equipment to pick up our bikes and gear. The staff advised us if we were longer than 2 hours there would be a charge of 40 AED. ‘Pah, no chance of that,’ we laughed. Most importantly, for AED 16, you can add a gel saddle – make sure you invest in this!
The rental bikes were Trek Alu 105 road bikes, well serviced and in operable condition. The gears, breaks and tyres were all fit for purpose. The add-ons available are; gel seat covers, lights, spare inner tubes, bicycle pumps and saddles bags – all of which are limited and will be rented out at a fee on a first come first serve basis.
Al Qudra offers a range of tracks with distances of 35km up to 180km. Beginners should start with the 35km, but, as five fit and competitive young men, we decided to jump straight into the 50km and give it our best shot! The staff advised us there is no water on the track, so you must ensure to take plenty with you – I’d say two litres, at least!
The track itself is phenomenal, such a smooth ride all the way round, a few gradual incline sections but nothing too steep. You have several sheltered pit-stops on route with benches to enjoy a quick break. The first half of the 50km loop is tough and round 20km of it was into the wind with a never-ending straight stretch. The most challenging aspect of that was that, as the scenery didn’t change much along the stretch, there was an illusion of cycling furiously against the wind but not actually moving! When you had the wind on your side, however, it was a dream!
Typically, an intermediate rider will finish the 50km circuit in around 2 hours. However, we messed up the timings, which brings me back to that red flag when we arrived at 9.30am. Upon seeing so many riders finished already, it was made clear to us that you should avoid times from 10am – 3pm, the hottest part of the day! Unless you’re a professional with copious amounts of water, do not attempt the 50km Al Qudra loop during these hours, unless it’s in the colder winter months. When we arrived back to base, there were only our vehicles left in the car park – it all made sense.
So, my advice for a trip to the Al Qudra cycle loop would be; if you want to enjoy a nice start to the weekend during the hotter season with some adventure and a great fitness challenge, ensure you’re there for sunrise, 7am latest. Otherwise, go later and enjoy the sunset when it cools down. Also, remember to pack plenty of water!
We may have had to pay the additional AED 40 charge for exceeding two hours, but it was a fantastic experience and a lesson well learnt.
I can’t wait to get back and have another ride during a cooler time of the day…next time, with the gel saddle!