x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

On a bicycle built for two...

An impromptu stop on the Corniche for a spot of carefree cycling is not an unqualified success, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

After two years and four months of living in Abu Dhabi, I can finally say I have rented a bike and ridden it on the Corniche. Granted it was a very tiny fraction of the Corniche before the wobbly noodles that are my legs gave out and gave in, but it was the Corniche nonetheless.

This is an activity that I have wanted to engage in since first moving to the UAE. I had just been living in Amman for a few years, a city of many hills and few pavements. Cycling there is not unlike actively proclaiming a death wish.

No, hopping on a bike to relive my college days only became an item on my Abu Dhabi to-do list once the beauty and accessibility of the Corniche had made themselves clear to me. A dedicated bicycle path, a plethora of different types of bicycle to choose from, the sea as my companion; it created the perfect recipe for an outdoor treat.

I didn't warn Mr T of my plans beforehand. We were driving down the Corniche towards Marina Mall, intent on catching a movie,when in my scary voice, I told him to turn into the Hiltonia's beach car park. Mr T knows not to argue with the scary voice.

We parked, and I presented him with my genius idea. Let's rent a bike and burn a few calories before we replace them with popcorn, I suggested, and he, having no choice in the matter, agreed.

Mistake number one? We were wearing jeans. I think because we had finally started working out in the gym on the roof of our building - cue applause - we thought we had built up our fitness levels enough to enjoy a leisurely meander down the Corniche, the breeze ruffling our hair, barely breaking a sweat.

Mistake number two? We did not have extra T-shirts to change into once the sweat began pouring down our backs and creating streams from our temples to the points of our chins. Three 45-minute trips to a gym do not a fit and healthy person make.

Mistake number three? Believing that the two-seater bicycles - those ones that resemble go-karts and sit low on the ground - would be the easiest option, and would allow for some romance to be had in this idea of ours. There is no romance in cycling.

We started off with Mr T in the passenger seat and me confidently perched on the driver's seat, pumping away, marvelling at the sea breeze. Less than two minutes later - it felt like an hour - my legs had turned into jelly, my lungs were screaming for air, and Mr T had been pushed unceremoniously on to the pavement.

"You're going to have to walk," I said to him. It was hard enough getting myself from point A to point B on that contraption; there was no way I was doing it for both of us.

So we alternated; he would ride while I walked as quickly as my spaghetti legs would allow next to him, and then I would ride as fast as I could and laugh as he attempted to jog alongside me. And there was fun to be had, certainly, and smatterings of romance when we pointed out the moon or when a gust of air caught us by surprise. But mostly it was hard work and a reminder to step up the intensity of our gym workouts.

Still, we headed off to our movie quite proud of ourselves, warm (and sweaty) with a sense of accomplishment. We had finally begun to change our lifestyle and 2011 was looking up, we agreed.