“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving,” this was once said by Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity.
As Qatar continues to allure residents and nationals towards sporty and healthy lifestyle by providing desired infrastructures, cycling has been in the limelight particularly since the opening of 33 kilometer-long Olympic Cycling Track (OCT).
Recently the Malaysian expatriate community organised a cycling event at OCT to mark both Qatar National Day and New Year. The Malaysian Association in Qatar (MAQ) in collaboration with the Malaysian in Qatar Cycling Community (MQCC) kicked off 2021 with the event. The ride was flagged off from the public park fronting Al-Bayt Stadium by Zamshari Shaharan, ambassador of Malaysia to Qatar, at 7am.
“Al-Bayt Stadium was selected due to its significance as a World Cup 2022 venue as well as its fascinating facade reflecting local Qatari culture. The route chosen was via the 33km long purpose-built OCT. The event was organised to celebrate the two important occasions. As many 40 Malaysian cyclists from across Qatar participated in the event covering the distance of 66km for experienced riders and 24km for novice riders,” said Mohamad Redzuan Nordin, MAQ president. He added: “The event was organised to further bring all Malaysians in Qatar together, with the close support of the Malaysian Embassy.”
Zulkifli Mohd Zin, president of MQCC, maintained: “Especially while the country is coping with the pandemic outbreak, different communities should continue with activities that keep them fit and healthy whilst staying safe and cycling is a perfect example.” He said that Covid-19 preventive measures were strictly adhered to during the event.
Mylah Mahmood was one the participants and enjoyed the exercise and the community gathering at the same time. “Cycling is a very good exercise as it leaves positive effect on our heart, blood and lung. It is a low impact aerobic exercise that provides a wealth of benefits and also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels and ages.
“Encouraging cycling in the community is an important way to increase physical activity in Qatar. By engaging in a range of community activities such as the cycling event, cycling skill courses including safety, and group ride for various levels will help increase the skill, knowledge and awareness.”
About the efforts of Qatar to promote cycling, the Malaysia expatriate said: “The OCT is one of the best things that promote cycling in the community. It provides easy access and safety for cyclists. Other than OCT, Qatar also has other cycling paths that are accessible for all levels and ages. It has made cycling one of the popular sports. There should be more and more awareness about safe ride of bicycle. There should be the rule of ‘no helmet, no rides.”
Baharudin Bin Mohamad lives in Al Khor and especially took part in the community cycling event. “I have been residing in Qatar for 13 years. I work in the oil and gas industry. I cycle as a hobby because the activity has many benefits, especially related to health. Physically, the activity promotes a core workout as strong back muscles and abdominals are required to maintain the balance whilst on the bicycle. From the point of view of mental health, any form of exercise such as cycling promotes the release of the happy hormone – endorphin – and lessens stress levels in an individual. As cycling is one of the activities that could be enjoyed by those who are of different fitness level, I personally destress from my working schedules by gathering with my family or groups of friends for a cycling outing. It really does wonders on the relations that I have with those who share a similar passion in regard to cycling. People of different ethnicities, background and religions come together to build harmonious connection via this activity.”
The ride is also happy with the way Qatar has been promoting and supporting cycling and other sports. “It is apparent that Qatar is promoting its people to adapt a more dynamic lifestyle through the construction and completion of OCT. The country sets a good example for other nations by constructing the longest cycling track that could be utilised by having free access. The track can help boost the country’s tourism industry as tourists may be interested to experience the hot spot. The presence of the track gives an individual living in Qatar the opportunity to be more responsible of their health. By providing a free designated space for the purpose of cycling, traffic accidents and collisions are eliminated, as the cyclists do not disturb the flow of the road. I am very content with promotion of a healthier lifestyle that Qatar had introduced to its population during the past years.”