The Joy of Cycling!
Cycling is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Since she picked up her bike for the first time in 1999, Sarah AlSammak AKA Sarah Cyclist has pedalled her way to becoming the first Bahraini woman to ride a road bike, start a women’s only cycling group, and get certified as a coach.
Bahrain Confidential interviewed the cyclist to find out more about her love for cycling!
What inspired you into cycling?
I started cycling in Canada in 1999 when my father was there on his Sabbatical. The house he rented came with two bikes and I start riding with my brother downtown. I was amazed at how they respect cyclists! I returned to Bahrain and got my bike from a local shop called Skate Shack (I was the first Bahraini girl to buy a road bike by then!)
What is the story behind your all-women cycling group – the Cycling Bees?
There were a lot of fast groups around here in Bahrain but nothing for beginners and nothing for women only. This led to the idea of building the first and only women’s riding group. We started it while my friend Dana was training for Bahrain Ironman 70.3 in 2017.
We used to document our rides with loads of fun pictures and videos while cycling! So girls around the island started writing to us to join us! The name came after my bike which is bright yellow and black – like a bumble bee! Hence ‘Cycling Bees’.
What’s your favourite cycling spot in Bahrain?
My favourite place to ride in Bahrain is Salman City because it’s quiet, green and close to the sea!
What’s the toughest race you’ve been a part of?
The toughest has been Italy! I did the Maratona Des Dolomites in 2017 and I was the first Arab girl to conquer the Italian Alps with 6000 other riders!
What do you do (aside from cycling) and where do you go to relax in Bahrain?
I am a freelance cycling coach – qualified by British Cycling. My specialty is Bikeability classes which get people to feel comfortable riding bikes for the first time and have the confidence to ride on the roads. I believe cycling is a lifestyle not only a sport! I like to do activities with my 7-year-old daughter in my free time as she is an active person just like me!
What are some tips you wish you knew that would help cycling beginners?
16 years ago, there weren’t a lot of girls on bikes in Bahrain and finding the right clothing was really hard! I remember riding my bike in regular trousers until I met an English friend on a bike and she asked me if I was wearing cycling shorts under my pants! I just turned to her and looked clueless! The moment I started wearing them was a game changer! So clothing is very important, especially in hot weather!