x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

It's time to ride; yes, even here

There is a lot of discussion and debate in the UAE about why more people don't ride motorcycles here.

There is a lot of discussion and debate in the UAE about why more people don't ride motorcycles here. Of course, I've met many people who have bikes here, and there are many others involved in clubs or who go off roading or who just stick to the track. But you don't see a lot of bikers on the roads on a regular basis. Yes, the safety issue is the biggest point of contention. With a mix of so many nationalities on our roads, with so many levels of quality for drivers, and with a general disregard for speed and other laws on the road, it can get pretty dangerous sometimes. But riding motorcycles takes focus and anticipation wherever you are. There are no guarantees of safety anywhere, but, honestly, in my time here, I've found it no more dangerous than in other areas I've ridden.

Others point to the lack of good riding roads in the area. The real fun of riding a motorcycle is putting it into a turn, preferably setting up for another and another after that. Most of the roads in the Emirates are arrow straight, which is what comes to most people's minds. But there are definitely a few really exceptional routes for a bike in the UAE. The roads around Hatta offer great mountain views; the twisting route of Jabel Hafeet is challenging going up and downright scary coming down; the ride from Liwa out to Moreeb Dune not only has great turns and elevations but gets you right into the heart of the desert while still being on tarmac; and the seaside route cutting through Musandam from the UAE border leading to Khasab is, quite frankly, one of the best motorcycle routes in the world. There are other gems out there, too; you just have to look, or ask other bikers.

And these are just the opportunities for bikes with smooth tyres. Where else would you have the opportunity to bike over the dunes of a legendary desert for hours or, if you really wanted to, days on end? There are, in fact, many people here who have taken up off-road motorcycling. I've had the opportunity a couple of times to hoon across the sand and dunes on a 450cc, knobby tyred bike, and I have to say it was one of the most rewarding and magnificent experiences I've every enjoyed. It embodies the essence of motorcycling to an extreme: physical challenge, mental focus and concentration and the thrill of speed and danger. Couple this with lonely, windswept views of the wilderness, exploring places few people get to see and the occasional encounter with the desert's elusive wildlife, and it's a wonder more people don't get out there. For most expats, it's an experience they would never get to experience in their home country.

If you've never motorcycled before but always wanted to, and you can get over the ridiculous rider training here and get someone who really knows how to teach you, I think you should give it a go. And if you did motorcycle in the past but are put off by it here, like Patricia, I say talk with people in the bike clubs or go to the track and see how people feel about it. And put some money aside for another bike. Just in case. motoring@thenational.ae