I went bike riding at the Diplomatic Quarter (aka DQ) on the weekend. It was a beautiful day. I’m extremely grateful that this space is available when I feel the urge to get some air about me on a bike. As one fellow male cyclist said, this is about the only safe space in Riyadh for women to cycle, unless you’re into spinning. Although I don’t mind a spot of spinning at the gym, my preference is to cycle in the great outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and sights.
Hubster agreed to my getting a bicycle in Riyadh because he figured it’s cheaper than the Harley I’ve been bugging him for, though the cost of transporting the bike to ‘lady safe’ areas is building up a bit. As we don’t have a car I have to pack my bike into the back of a taxi to get to the DQ or, for trips further afield, we have to hire a vehicle. The cost of both tends to build up over time.
It’s always a bit of a worry that I may be turned away at the Diplomatic Quater gate but, to date, security has not had any issues with my bicycle tied into the boot of a taxi with yellow nylon rope, the overhang resting on a rather pretty cushion.
There are numerous walking tracks at the DQ and it is around these that I ride, even though in many places they are rough as! A mountain bike is a must for the walking tracks around the DQ. Though the tracks have been landscaped and laid with large, flat stones suitable for an evening stroll, they are not a smooth ride and the body can feel a bit beaten up after a while, especially if it is getting on in years, like mine.
When the body has had enough jolting from the path, I take the bike off the beaten track and follow faint trails through the rock covered or sandy ground to see where they lead. Certainly some of the loose, sharp, shale like rock that covers the ground can still be a little challenging to ride on, but it’s all part of the fun. I am not, you may have gathered, a racing cyclist. Pure leisure, and any fitness that may come with it, is my thing.
Coming across patches of green foliage that have taken hold around the grounds makes a nice change from the desert brown that greets the eyes everywhere else (this from the point of view of a gal still acclimatizing to the lack of lush green forest).
Or I cycle around the streets, having a nosey at the parks and numerous new homes that are currently being constructed. The Diplomatic Quarter is becoming popular as a residential area. Upon asking a local agent the cost of renting one of the new homes it was apparent Hubster and I would not be moving to the DQ any time soon.
The Diplomatic Quarter, though fab for a cycling getaway, is only a drop in the bucket of what there is to see in Riyadh so, each day that I’m driven like miss daisy around the town, I can’t help but think how much fun I would have moseying around Riyadh on my bike.
Being able to wheel my bike out the front gate of our compound and meander down the road is only possible in the dead of night or very early mornings and you can bet that has met with some rather surprised looks.
Hubster, on the other hand, can ride out our gate any time he pleases. In fact, since getting my bike, he has enjoyed taking it for a spin, even riding it to work on the weekend. I watch him peddling up the road feeling all sorts of emotions – usually a mix of envy and anger for the dumb rules in this place that prevent me from free wheeling around the streets whenever I want.
Riyadh is the only place we have lived that I have taken so long to get a bicycle Cycling, I find, is the best way to explore a new city or town. You can find so much more on a bike, down side streets and nooks and crannies, than you can in a car. And, though I like walking, cycling can take you that much further in a day, much more easily.
But all that information is for nought because I can’t ride a bike in public in Riyadh. One day, that frustration and anger built up to such an extent I had a very bad hair day and got quite Shitty in Saudi.
But I shall not wrap myself in frustrated feelings today.
I have been bike riding at the DQ this week and the sun was shining – Yippee, yahoo!