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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 February 2019

Cycling during Ramadan: get your fix despite your fast

Mother-of-three Shadaab Razak is a Dubai-based travel and hospitality consultant. She was part of the team that formed a cycling MeetUp group last year, and tells us how she manages her passion for cycling alongside fasting during one of the hottest Ramadans.
 Shadaab Razak went on a cycling tour of the Amalfi Coast Italy, with members of her MeetUp group. Courtesy Shadaab Razak
Shadaab Razak went on a cycling tour of the Amalfi Coast Italy, with members of her MeetUp group. Courtesy Shadaab Razak
Mother-of-three Shadaab Razak is a Dubai-based travel and hospitality consultant. She was part of the team that formed a cycling MeetUp group last year, and tells us how she manages her passion for cycling alongside fasting during one of the hottest Ramadans.

How did you get involved in forming a cycling group?

I took up cycling as a stress-buster to cope with the passing of my mother. My friend, the founder of I Love Adventure, Kripa Hadani introduced me to the sport, and we ended up forming a MeetUp group, which has 140 members today. From group cycling at Al Qudra every Saturday and monthly full-moon rides to a riding trip along Italy's Amalfi Coast, we've come a long way.

How do you alter your cycling routine over Ramadan?

Although I look forward to the holy month for several reasons, fasting from sunrise to sunset is no easy task. While hunger can be tamed, thirst is an unquenchable dragon. And yet, my desire to cycle is as strong as ever. The first change I make to my schedule is to fit in a 50-kilometre ride post-sunset, as opposed to in the morning. Not only does this help me break my fast and prepare my body for the ride, but it also allows me the pleasure of experiencing the track at night, with nothing but the stars and sounds of the desert for company.

What changes will you make to your diet?

To make up for the day's fasting and minimise the effect of the heat, I carry twice the amount of water with electrolytes to sip on throughout the ride. Post-fast metabolism takes time to kick in, and so while I eat healthy carbs and protein bread with butter for suhoor, iftar is usually a light affair consisting of dates, fruit and porridge cooked with grains, light spices and meat. This gives my body the essential nutrients it requires to exercise. I would urge fellow cyclists to avoid overeating at iftar because it can cause heartburn, acidity and discomfort while you cycle. The idea is to give your body simple yet healthy food at an easy pace. Salads with fresh leaves, nuts and fruits such as oranges, peach and watermelon with a simple dressing make a healthy starter. You can supplement this with a delicious meal made from quinoa, burghal or semolina grains that are easily available in the supermarkets, and mix it up with fresh veggies and lean meats.

Will you alter your attire when cycling during the holy month?

Since I tan easily, I stick to my cycling attire year-round - leggings and my coveted cycling jerseys. While shorts and vests are acceptable gear, it's always nice to respect the cultural sensibilities of the place you reside in. Fortunately, for the most part, cycling - as a sport and family activity - promotes performance-orientated attire that should not cause offence.

What are some of the benefits of cycling you've experienced?

I've heard cycling being called the new golf, and I could not agree more. It has become one of the most popular sports in the UAE today. As the number of cyclists - male and female - swells, so does my willpower. We all need to get on a bike and ride, no matter the time of year. It's an opportunity to explore the good world at your own pace, while doing yourself a world of good.

A healthy body, active mind, younger countenance and improved mood - the benefits of cycling are numerous. And best of all, the sport requires minimal investment - all it needs is your bike and your time.

pmunyal@thenational.ae

Updated: June 14, 2016 04:00 AM

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