Not very long ago I bought my first never-been-used-before aka brand,spanking new bike.   I walked into the shop and there she was. Just made for me and had to be – being purple and all! She’s super sleek, can discard her front tyre at the click of a switch with a few twirls and can be lifted on my pinkie finger. She sleeps inside, has the seats in the back of my car permanently folded down in her honour and has her very own towel to snuggle into when we’re out driving together.

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What can I say… I’m head over wheels in love.

Why else would I be out of bed at 4.30am on a weekend to ride circles around one of Dubai’s many beautiful cycling tracks?

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The one I had the pleasure of pedalling today is found right next to a designer equestrian course – which incidentally hosts the richest horse races in the world. Oh Hello, this is Dubai!   Prize money comes in at US$40 million per season. I wish the bike riding fraternity oozed coffers as big. But then again maybe they do. How would I know ‘cos I bring up the rear at races and always come in way past the prize giving. I am a poddler after all. That’s a mixture of toddle (move with short unsteady steps revolutions while learning to walk ride) and pedal (something you do on a bike). Go figure…

So what’s all this babble got to do with community you may ask? I’ll tell you.

I’ve discovered the riding community here to be a very special one with a huge soul and an all-encompassing heart. I’m a slow learner and rider. Not only because my knees are knackered and can’t turn very fast but also because I’m just not up to speed yet. I’ll start with the pack and soon lag behind. I’m not sure how to change gears and ahem…sit in slipstreams. On one of my first outings I lacked food and water to sustain a 50 degree Celsius, 2 hour ride and ended up heaving in the heat and delusional enough to scare the pee out of me. My extra sporty and ever so fit (young) riding friend shared her sugar, cooled my brow and allowed me to crawl under the only bush within a 100 mile radius while it all passed.  She stood in the sun refusing to leave my side although she could have done an extra 70k loop in that time.  On another occasion when the pack flew away, again an angel stayed behind and showed me the gears and then adjusted my water supply to keep it steady. She shared the rules of the cycling road and she too, could have been there and back in the time I took to get there.  And today while poddling away, a new friend slowed right down to remark on my bike (the colours ooooh and ahh), which opened a long and interesting conversation (if at times breathless) on the parallel of our lives. We parted with exchanged numbers.

However, the biggest connector amongst bike riders has to be the never ending banter about butts – and the pain associated therewith. Simply put, riding is a pain in the arse and riders aren’t shy to share stories at the drop of a lycra-padded pant. Conversations with complete strangers open with the level of sore from 1 to10 – one being totally hard-arsed and 10 being off the chart undercarriage carnage. I mostly feature around the 9’s! Seasoned riders will tell you to invest in chamois butt’r (no lies that’s what it says on the tube) and to apply liberally, um, down there. I did and took off faster than the leader of the Tour du France in a time trial. And not on my bike either.   Why oh why would the manufacturers of said chamois butt’r include ingredients such as witch hazel, schinus mole fruit extract (!) and Lord have mercy, MENTHOL! In a cream that’s supposed to smooth and soothe? The mind boggles at the extremes that sadistic saddle sore soothing manufacturers will go to. And here’s a secret you may not know. Riders shun underwear – enough said. I’ve also been told that there is saddle science enough to launch a rocket, the art of measuring your sits bones (ischial tuberosity or something like that to the rocket scientists) is imperative to comfort…. and on and on and on.

Clearly I have to much to learn. And no doubt I soon will surrounded by such a fabulous, fit and fun community.

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