Last night a friend roped me into joining the Tour de France wanabees who cycle around the Dubai Autodrome race track every Wednesday night.
As a “casual” cyclist, who potters around the garden paths of her compound one or two times a week, getting landscaping and furniture ideas from other people’s gardens and inhaling the scent of the flowers wilting in the hot, morning sun, it was a big development for me.
The preparation was immense.
For a start, I had to buy a cycle helmet, because that’s the rules: No helmet – no ride. Fair enough when you consider most of the pro cyclists there would be hitting speeds of 50kmh or more. So, the brains were measured and a helmet was purchased.
A time was agreed with my friend.
And then the real preparation began: The mental battle to get myself to actually go. I psyched myself up for nearly a week. It would be fine. I wouldn’t be swept off my bike by gangs of men in lycra and pointy hats flying past me, their wiry little legs pumping up and down like pistons. The cyclists would be welcoming (or would at least kindly ignore me and my amateur’s bike and my M&S capri pants). The tarmac would be smooth. It might even be fun.
But, most of all, cycling in the evening would mean I wasn’t sitting at home, inhaling Shiraz.
Yesterday evening I started getting ready. I ate a banana to get my energy up. I removed multiple child car seats from the back of the gas-guzzler, collapsed the seats and manhandled the bike into the back (truly, I have to admit here that although the track is only 1.5km from home, there was absolutely no way I could both cycle to it and around it. No way on earth – there’s a very big hill involved).
So, as 7.45pm approached, I adjusted the new bike helmet, accepted that I’d never understand how the heart monitor / calorie-counter thing worked, and set off in tandem with my friend.
The first signs were positive – we passed a panting cyclist, no doubt pedalling his way back to Abu Dhabi after two hours on the track – and we passed a few cars leaving. The floodlights were on; the ushers ushered us in. We parked, we unloaded the bikes, we put on our helmets, shoved the car keys into our bras and pedalled off towards the track.
Maybe next week we’ll get there before it closes.