Dubai Filipino community has a passion for cycling
ABU DHABI // A passion for cycling is catching on in the Filipino community, especially mountain biking.
UAE Mountainbiking Jumeirah is the UAE’s largest such group, said Frank Boton, a quantity surveyor who founded the group in 2013.
At present more than 90 per cent of the group’s 300 members come from the Philippines.
Sub groups such as Band of Bikers, Metro Bikers, Dubai Creek Pedallers and the elite group Jumeirah Enduro Group (Jet) have all emerged from it.
“So many Filipinos are now cycling regularly,” said Mr Boton, 44, from Manila. “I think the sport is now second only to boxing in popularity among Filipinos.”
Mr Boton believed the main reason so many Filipinos were embracing cycling was to widen their social circle, because his group offered the opportunity to mingle afterwards with fellow Pinoys.
After the group’s regular 30-kilometre Sunday evening rides from Jumeirah One Open Beach to Burj Al Arab, food is shared at a picnic.
“We are building camaraderie among Filipinos. We also go to new places together at the weekend, so its great for bonding. You meet people from all walks of life.”
As well as the Sunday get togethers, the group organises mountain-biking day trips on Fridays to sites around the UAE, including Showkah and Hatta in the Hajar Mountains and Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, and off-road evening rides in Nad Al Sheba in Meydan on Wednesdays.
Mr Boton’s group, which is the only Dubai-based cycling group to be accredited by the city’s Philippine consulate, also arranges annual cross-country and decathlon races.
Some of the Philippines’ top cycling champions work in bike shops in Dubai. One of them is Ride Bike Shop mechanic Emil Pablo, who won Dh80,000 after coming second in the UAE’s 2014 Ramadan Cycling Championship.
In Ras Al Khaimah, 50 cyclists who make up the group Filipino RAK Bikers meet on Friday mornings, and are led by oil refinery supervisor Romulo Parcon Nacolangga, 58, from Bacolod City.
“The character of Filipinos is suited to cycling – we like healthy living,” Mr Nacolangga said.
And some Pinoys are using the sport to save money on their daily commute.
Cycling saves Abu Dhabi-based nanny and housekeeper Emelita Penid, a 32-year-old from Laguna province, about Dh400 a month in taxi fares from her home on Delma Street to her employer’s home near Al Saada Street.
“I can spend the money I save on my 11-year-old son Franshua instead. I just bought him his first bicycle for Christmas, because I want him to start cycling too,” she said.
Ms Penid said she now cycles mainly to keep fit.
“I want to take the calories off,” she said. “It also gives me a great feeling of independence.”
In Dubai, Dave Gomez, 38, from Manila, has been cycling the 34km round trip from his home in Satwa to his job as a mechanic for Ride Bike shop in Al Qouz for the past two years.
“It’s an easy commute, there’s no getting stuck in traffic, and it’s less time consuming too. It makes a good alternative to waiting for a bus for half an hour.”