x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Summer heat doesn't deter bikers' search for open roads and egg rolls

Heatbeaters: For a group of Dubai professionals the road is home every Friday morning, even in summer, as they point their powerful bikes down different roads for a four-hour ride to their favourite breakfast.

Bikers brave the heat of summer early on Fridays in search of stunning views, open roads and the perfect egg roll. Antonie Robertson / The National
Bikers brave the heat of summer early on Fridays in search of stunning views, open roads and the perfect egg roll. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Every Friday a hardcore pack of bikers heads out to villages, wadis and mountains in search of breathtaking views, the open road - and the perfect breakfast egg roll.

The bankers, businessmen, engineers and advertising professionals ride powerful machines ranging from Harley-Davidsons and BMWs to classic Royal Enfields.

Summer is no deterrent for this tight-knit tribe.

"Sometimes you feel like you're in an open sauna and a big hair dryer is on your face," says Marco Moller, 40, a technical manager with an industrial kitchen equipment company.

"But on a bike the entire countryside is up close and striking. So even if it's hot and uncomfortable, we continue to ride in the heat."

The riders log in about 150km to 200km over four hours every Friday. In summer they set out at 5am to beat the heat, still in their protective heavy jackets, helmets and gloves.

Their rides take them into small villages such as Tawi Nizwa on the Dubai-Hatta road, or Fili on the Kalba road, and on to the Hatta mountains, Fujairah and Musandam.

On every trip they stop at the small, tin-roofed restaurants that serve up their breakfast of choice, egg rolls, which are omelettes rolled into Indian flat bread. A favourite is a tiny shop in Wadi Sawka, on the Sharjah-Kalba road just before the narrow mountain stretches begin.

Resting on worn plastic chairs, they tuck into their snacks and gulp down tea while chatting with villagers who come out to see the bikes.

"Many bikers can't understand how we bear the heat, but it's not about riding fast, it's just about enjoying the ride," says Ivo Kapitzki, 52, the vice president of a German car company.

"We enjoy riding on Musandam's winding roads, watching camels cross the desert, and it's also about searching for the best roll we can find. The villagers find us approachable for a chat, unlike people sitting in cars."

The biking scene has greatly changed in the past few decades, says Vijay Pillai, 59, who has been riding for 30 years.

"Back then there were not many roads and people were not used to seeing big bikes," says Mr Pillai, the owner of Max Garage, which services and restores classic cars. "Now it's catching on with a variety of people of all ages and there are regular routes to follow.

"Still, it's only hardcore riders who ride through the summer."

Most of their families write off Friday mornings as strictly reserved for riding. While spouses never join their husbands in summer, some get involved when the weather cools.

"I think he lives for Fridays," says Mr Pillai's wife Nazneen, who was recently caught in a sandstorm with her husband and two friends on a week-long biking trip to Oman.

"Riding is his passion, his love. He enjoys the open space and being in control of the bike."

Out on the road, the working week seems like a lifetime ago.

"It's a stress buster after a long hard week; the heat cannot dampen our spirits," says Riyaz Neem, 40, who runs an advertising agency.

"It's the pure thrill of riding with like-minded people and rounding it off with a roll and chai [tea].

"It's a humbling experience that, just a half hour out of Dubai, we can ride through small towns and quaint villages as opposed to passing fancy glass towers on Sheikh Zayed Road. It's a slice of life in the UAE you don't always see."

The group often meets at Classic Motorcycles, a workshop off Sheikh Zayed road. Their Facebook page is Royal Enfield Dubai.