Forget all you think you know about Dubai - we go on a Fishtail Ride
As the 50-strong group of Fishtailers wormed their way around the backstreets of Jumeirah, catching flashes of the beach, the Burj Al Arab and the baking hot sun from between the shadows, I realised this was the most fun I’d had since arriving in Dubai at the backend of summer.
This was everything I loved about my new home – the scenery, the weather, the friendships – sprinkled with a reminder of where I’d come from. It was certainly not an experience I’d expected, because in Dubai you drive. Sometimes you get the Metro, and in a just a few short months you may even consider the tram if you live the way of the Marina and JBR. What you don’t do is cycle all that much, despite an a enormous push from the RTA to get us peddling, in which over 100km of dedicated tracks around the city have recently been completed, with plans for 850km more.
It was one of these new stretches of dedicated lanes – the 23km along Jumeirah Street – that served as the main vein of my ‘fixie’ adventure with the team from Puma and Dosnoventa.
For the uninitiated, ‘fixies’ are fixed-gear bikes – basically, one gear and constantly moving pedals. Braking is done by resisting the movement of the pedals – no easy feat to master – while ‘fishtailing’ is another manoeuvre used to slow down by the well-practiced.
The group all gathered at Open Beach at midday. The warmth of everyone was palpable, and not just because we’d struck gold with the weather. No-one knew the exact plan, only that, under the title ‘Coast On By’, we’d probably end up somewhere back by Burj Al Arab. We did all agree that food would have to play a big part of the finale; 20km is hard going in a city driven by cars.
As it was, via a pit-stop at Kite Beach, we ended in the front garden of a privately owned Jumeirah home, where we found a live jamming band – the excellent Abri and Funk Radius – and a BBQ catered by Guns and Butter, a cult American dining experience on a whistle-stop tour of the region. The vibe was very Los Angeles – yard party, BBQ, basketball and the soundtrack to a summer – while those in attendance looked cherry-picked from the likes of London’s Shoreditch, New York’s Brooklyn, Paris’ Bastille and Melbourne.
If that all sounds very ‘cool’, it should do. But don’t be deterred if you don’t know your brogues from your boat shoes, or your paleo from your pop-up restaurant. Every walk of life is welcome here and, frankly, the chance to see Dubai by bike should not be missed.
You don’t even need to own the wheels, though anyone who already owns a ‘fixie’ is granted automatic entry. Others taking part include privately invited influential bloggers and enthusiasts, as well as competition winners, all of whom are provided with bikes. One suspects after a Fishtail experience, you may not need one lent second time around.
How to get involved
Due to safety, the number of fixies we have available and also the routes themselves are strictly controlled – and we control the number of riders on each ride. Riders don’t have to be experts, but you do need to be capable of riding a normal pushbike. There are three ways of getting involved:
1. Through the regular competitions hosted on the Fishtail Rides Facebook Page
2. Through registering on the Fishtail Ride Facebook page – look out for the app logo
3. Registration through an iPad unit at the PUMA Dubai Mall Store