Cycling for a cause

DUBAI - With the UAE’s 40th National Day just more than a week away, bicycle enthusiasts from different walks of life are getting ready to pedal five to six hours a day through the seven emirates starting from Al Ain on November 28 and reaching Dubai on National Day.

By Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Wed 23 Nov 2011, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:50 AM

The five-day journey is part of a volunteer group’s initiative to raise funds for Al Manar Charity School in Ajman.

From stationary cycling in gyms and pedalling bikes on the mountains to workouts at the beach, participants have dedicated their time and diet to prepare for the trip which will see the 28 people from the group, Gulf For Good (G4G), travel about 55-85km a day on bicycle.

Michael Henry gives training to students ahead of the five-day journey at Star International School - Umm Sheif

Team leader and G4G representative Pascale De Jonge said that she is a regular when it comes to exercise but is expecting some bumps during the journey.

“I love cycling but we do not usually do cycle for six hours a day when exercising. Obstacle-wise, I’m sure most of us will have aching backs and legs. But it will still be a fun experience for all of us,” said De Jonge, account director at Phishface.

Five faculty members from the Education Department at Dubai Women’s College — Satya Klever, Sean Ingoldsby, Sarah Hyde, Robin Bishop and Glenys Henry — have decided to function as a relay team where each participant will cycle for one day and return due to work commitments. “The staff have managed to get mountain bikes for the event. We have been cycling at Cycle Safe at the autodrome on Wednesday evenings and completed several weekend rides including a Wadi cycling at Dibba yesterday, and cycling at Nad Al Sheba and Wadi Sedar. We have prepared as best we can,” said Glenys Henry, who added that they are raising funds for charity and to cover costs of the trip through bake sales and garage sales.

“Our overall aim is to promote awareness of the school in Ajman. Fitness is an added bonus. We are committed to health and wellbeing and through our participation in this event we can provide positive role models for our students,” she said.

Michael Henry, Principal of Star International School - Umm Sheif, received unconditional support and encouragement from students who took part in his training sessions during their physical education classes where they simulated a child-friendly challenge environment on school grounds. “The children at my school, from the three to 12-year-olds, participated in a training session with me riding their bikes and scooters, pushing prams, running and walking.

They really entered into the spirit of the build-up and they have raised a staggering amount. The original target was Dh12,000 and the current total is nearly Dh69,000. People’s generosity has been amazing.

I have worked in the UAE for six years and have gained so much from the experience. I feel the challenge is a way of achieving several aims including raising money for a very worthwhile cause as well as setting myself a personal, very physical challenge. I have just turned 60 and had something to prove to myself,” he said.

Part of the funds raised by the participants will cover costs of the ‘Cycle the Seven Emirates’ trip while rest will be donated to the charity school to build and repair facilities for a healthy environment for its students.

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