Vince McCulloch likes riding in the pack. The general manager of the industrial fan manufacturer and supplier Howden Middle East in Dubai has been a member of the Harley-Davidson owners' group in the city since he landed three years ago. Mr McCulloch, 50, who is from the United Kingdom, talks about his passion for riding Harley motorbikes.
Why take up this hobby?
The best way to de-stress and relax is to ride a motorbike. And also to have a bit of fun. I used to ride a sports bike in the United Kingdom but bought my first Harley-Davidson when I came to Dubai three years ago. I recently sold my first one and bought another - Road King Classic, which is slightly bigger than the first one. And I will continue to ride a Harley after I leave Dubai. It is very difficult to leave.
How popular are the Harley-Davidson riding clubs in this region?
The Dubai chapter of the Harley-Davidson owners' group that I belong to has 300 members. There are many small private, independent riding groups in the Middle East and most of them are in Dubai.
That is because of the large expat population here. I ride with [my club] because I know the people and I am comfortable riding with them because I know their style of riding. The groups are predominantly men but there are more women taking up riding.
How often do you ride?
I try to ride twice a week, and always on a Friday. During summer, I set off very early in the morning, before dawn, and ride for four to five hours. During winter, I ride for around seven hours.
What is your favourite riding route?
Hatta and Oman. We always ride on the highways. Absolutely not off roads.
How expensive is this hobby?
Very expensive. You need to get the bike serviced every 5,000 kilometres because of the heat and you have to spend Dh1,500 [US$408] to Dh2,000 depending on the servicing. And everybody customises their bikes. I have already made some changes to the exhaust system to enhance the bike, the handlebars, the seats, and a bit of chrome here and there.
How many people do you ride with and what are the safety measures you follow?
I usually ride with 30 to almost 70 bikers during winter, and around 10 in summer. We have a road marshal and before every ride, the road marshal briefs the group on the route and recaps the rules of riding in a pack, such as how to maintain formation and be aware of what is going on around you.
How does this hobby contribute to your work life?
Riding a motorcycle is the best way to meet people. When I came to Dubai, many of my colleagues rode a Harley-Davidson.