Sunday, 19 September 2021 08:43 GMT

Cycle enthusiasts harness pedal power to overcome pandemic fatigue


(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN —  At a time when most recreational activities and fitness centres were closed as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the COVID pandemic, many resorted to cycling as a hobby and a sport.

Bashar Ammari and Jalal Halaweh, who both worked in the entertainment and event-planning industry, retreated to cycling to make up for the losses in their business.

'We first started cycling with our friends, then decided to make a living out of it,' said Ammari, co-founder of JoWheels.

'Cycling was a very safe sport in terms of physical distancing and hygiene. Besides being an outdoor sport, bikers do not touch their group members' equipment or bikes,' Halaweh, co-founder of JoWheels, told The Jordan Times.

Although cycling is not popular in Jordan, it is a great way to stay fit and discover new places across the Kingdom, added Ammari.

He said that JoWheels does not only arrange bike rides for groups, but also helps individuals find, buy and repair bikes.

When asked how they choose their tracks for their rides, Ammari said that the weather plays a major role.

'The Dead Sea area is a great location in winter because the weather is nice, the road is flat, and there is no rain,' said Ammari.

In summer, they tend to choose rural areas with beautiful scenery, Halaweh added, noting that they also visit the area a day earlier to make sure that all safety measures are taken.

However, cycling businesses are not a new industry in the Kingdom.

Sari Husseini, the owner of Cycling Jordan, has started arranging cycling groups with his university friends since 2007.

'We started arranging programmes for people to cycle together along with a cycling guide. The community grew with more bikers aiming to discover unique locations across the Kingdom,' Husseini told The Jordan Times.

'Having a cycling community in Jordan is not only beneficial for health but also has economic significance,' he said.

'This business has created many job opportunities for the Jordanian youth such as bike trainers, mechanics, event planners, tour guides, and more,' he added.

Some cycling teams also embraced environmentally friendly practices. A group of mountain bikers from Cycling Jordan created a cycling route in the Amman National Park.

'We held many campaigns to protect forest and remove dangerous waste,' Husseini said.

Cycling groups serve many purposes. Some are created for bikers to raise their fitness levels to participate in races as amateurs, according to Husseini.

Cycling also promotes tourism, he said. Cycling Jordan participates in an annual competition under the name of Arabian Epic, with tourists riding across Jerash, Iraq Al Amir, the Dead Sea area, Shobak, and Petra as part of their cycling route in Jordan.

'With biking gaining popularity due to the pandemic, we have also started an academy to teach off-road biking to all ages,' Husseini said.

Husseini suggested that measures can be taken to reduce customs and taxes when importing biking equipment or accessories since it serves as an obstacle to many who want to practise the sport but cannot afford it. He also called for municipalities across the Kingdom to support bikers in creating biking routes.

Anas Madanat, a cycling enthusiast, agreed with Husseini.

'We have many beautiful locations in Jordan that make the perfect destination for cyclists from all over the world,' Madanat told The Jordan Times.

He also stressed the importance of creating cycling routes and raising awareness of motorists' regarding the appropriate etiquette with cyclists.

In celebration of World Bicycle Day, annually marked on June 3, Madanat said that he started cycling.

'After lockdowns, closed gyms and outdoor sports in groups were not possible, I decided to buy a bicycle to get my daily dose of exercise and maintain my physical health,' added Madanat.

When asked about tips for people who are considering taking up cycling as a hobby, Madanat said: 'The most important tip is to pick the right frame size for your body. Keep your bike maintained, avoid making risky moves too soon, carry an extra tube and patch, and always wear a helmet.'

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