The Cycle Challenge
It’s clear that there are very few bicycles on the streets of Doha. This is possibly due to the unpredictable and risky habits of drivers on Qatar’s roads. But for bicycle lovers, there is hope.
Qatar Chain Reaction is a Doha-based cycling group with 500 members. The club organises rides in the desert and plans a host of cycling-related events; from time trials, to triathlons and several long-distance rides between 40-50kms.
Pia Sundstedt, a passionate and professional cyclist for 15 years, is one of its devoted members. For Pia, the benefits of being a part of this dynamic club include staying healthy and interacting with other members of the group. In appreciating Qatar’s broad-minded attitude, she says females are at leisure to wear the usual fitted cycling outfit, as it makes cycling much more comfortable.
The most important cycling hitch that Pia has encountered in Qatar, has been the lack of bicycle repair garages or supply stores. Besides a few poorly stocked bicycle stores in Doha, a cyclist’s only way to purchase a part is to order it from abroad.
Beyond this, another major drawback for a cyclist are Qatar’s road safety. Due to large amounts of traffic and incidences of reckless driving, there are no bicycle tracks or pathways and this creates a serious risk of injury to cyclists.
In addition to these factors, Pia finds that due to Qatar’s lack of roads in remote areas, many vehicles are forced to drive off-road into the desert to reach their destinations. While on their return back to the tarred road, they leave trails of rocks and sand, which distresses and endangers cyclists.
Even though Doha is not the flawless pitch for cycling, Pia loves her group. During her usual early morning trips, she enjoys competing against the clock to beat the broiling desert sun, and she savours the company of the group as she cycles along Doha’s roads.
To the health conscious expatriate, the Qatar Chain Reaction is certainly an opportunity to consider.
For more information on the Qatar Chain Reaction, including contact information, visit their website qatarchainreaction.org