For a fresh perspective, try Dubai by bicycle

It can be harrowing (so wear a helmet), but being a cyclist affords you a satisfyingly different view of the city.

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As summer approached this year, I had to let go of a dear, but sadly obsolete companion.

My sand-blown Atlas bike, built in India and as graceful as a skinny tank, had had its final outing. The chain had started sticking. You could hear me coming for miles; a cacophony of squeaks, rattles and shakes emitting from the frame. It was also becoming far too hot for cycling.

I'd had a good stab at it though: a solid eight months of chugging my way from Umm Suqeim to Media City every morning and every night. Having experienced Dubai from the perspective of a hard saddle, it does teach you a bit about the simple things that would make getting around that bit easier. Dipped pavements became a solace, you go wherever there's an absence of roadworks and concrete blocks. Every day, I would throw my hands up in the air and say: "Won't someone just give us a cycling lane along Al Wasl?"

In spite of that, you start to link together a city that so often is about getting from A to B in the shortest possible time.

I found tea houses in the middle of nowhere, and palm tree-shaded alleyways lined with steel water fountains that glittered welcomingly as I turned in. Dodging missing pavements meant improvising - knowing, like the back of my hand, communities of low-rise villas that have faded into obscurity as rampant development blooms around them.

I also joined a very select and daring group of Dubai commuters, losing count of the number of times cars and taxis would blindly pull over in front of my oncoming wheel. Or when certain drivers would seem to speed up as I hauled my bike across a busy road in a mild panic.

It's the kind of experience that bonds people. So fellow Atlas riders would also want to allay me on my way to work. These bikes have a proud legacy in India, and are ubiquitous over here - you'll know them by the "Export Quality" declaration emblazoned on their sides. Sometimes I would find myself pedalling extra hard to avoid having the perfunctory conversation about how much the bike cost.

Yet for all its foibles, commuter-cycling in Dubai is an experience that few get out of this city and one that I heartily recommend.

On two wheels you are neither a pedestrian nor a tourist, and instead blend into a calming rat race. You also find a city with a certain peace and homeliness that's not easily located while rocketing from one highway to the next. It's the best way to make sense of Dubai and explore its more obscure hinterland.

So pick up an Atlas bike. It's as good a time as any in this weather. It will set you back Dh200 at the most. But definitely wear a helmet: it can get a little extreme.

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