Meet The Rider: Abdullah Alsafoor
Tell us about yourself:
Hello, my name is Abdullah Alasfoor, and I work as a Police Helicopter Pilot. I used to be a long-distance runner before I started my journey as a triathlete.
What got you into cycling? And how long have you been cycling?
I started cycling about 2 years ago. The irony is that it began with an injury. I twisted my ankle in a running race, and that kept me away from sports for a while. However, I grew restless after a week, so I decided to try running again, but that was a bad idea. My physical therapist instructed me to keep away from any physical sports for quite some time.
To add insult to injury (pun intended?), all of this happened during the Covid lockdown and Ramadan...!
One of my friends, Jarrah Almutairi, insisted that I try cycling with Zwift as a group (with a group called Kuwait Zwifters) and join the numerous events on it. Eventually, I joined and even started to enjoy the races! Throughout the lockdown, I kept running (after recovering from that injury), but I also kept riding indoors. I found myself really enjoying the online group rides.
I learned a lot from the group during those days of riding on the trainer. They taught me most, if not all, of the basics of cycling. I learned how to control my cadence, stay on top of my nutrition, and all of that. As I said, I learned a lot from them, and they saw my interest in cycling getting deeper and deeper; with that, they encouraged me not to stop and keep going.
After the lockdown, another friend convinced me to ride with his group on Jaber Bridge. Although I was terrified of riding on those roads, especially since one of my friends had been injured badly in an accident on that same road. I was also scared, given that many cyclists passed away due to hit-and-runs, again on those very same roads.
Although I had the physical capacity to ride and keep up with the group, the idea of risking my safety on those roads was always on my mind. I eventually agreed to ride with them on the road, but I had a gravel bike at that time with wider tires. However, that wasn't too big of an issue since I kept up with them with no issues. After a month of riding with them, they convinced me to switch my tires to road tires instead and see how that felt.
The group I started riding with, alongside my friend Mubarak Alhajry, always put the safety of the riders first. The group had a sag wagon that drove behind us to keep us safe from traffic and to add another layer of reassurance. Those guys shared their knowledge of riding on the road, and in a group, I learned all the important signals and hand gestures every cyclist must know. That experience enhanced my understanding of cycling as a discipline, not just as a sport.
Did someone or something inspire you to start riding? Who?
Khalid Alzabi, my cousin, was the one who inspired me to buy my first gravel bike. We used to ride paved, unpaved roads and off-road together doing some adventure that eventually led us to travel to Bosnia and UAE (Fujairah) to ride some dirt and do some adventure gravel riding in general.
What was your best ride ever?
My best ride has to be that gravel ride I did in Bosnia; that was quite the adventure. I was all by myself, in subfreezing temperatures, climbing my first 1000m climb enjoying the quiet and nature. During those 4 hours, I traveled the forest, where the trees were shedding their leaves, marking the beginning of autumn. I still remember those bright yellow and orange leaves all around me.
Only after that ride did I discover that it was really dangerous to ride through those forests alone. Locals informed me that wild boars and many other wild animals roam that area, which can be risky to face alone.
Regardless of that, I was preoccupied with riding my first 1000-meter climb in freezing temperatures, where I also had a few accidents, which is a given when you ride gravel, I guess!
As for a road ride, it would be my ride with Kuwait Tri-Center to Antalya for a training camp. We went on a long climbing ride planned to be 3 hours. But as things do change, we got 6 punctures for the group, aside from dogs chasing us around; that evolved into an adventure that turned that ride into a 6-hour one. A good memory that we all remember now.
What does cycling mean to you?
Although I do 3 disciplines of sports, each one means something to me. However, I always find myself ready for any ride, hard or easy, long or short. I enjoy it all. Cycling is just part of the day that brings me happiness!
What do you need as a cyclist in Kuwait?
Well, to be honest, cyclists in Kuwait need a lot of things. So, to make a long story short, I summarized some of the needs in 4 points.
Introduce rules for driving with cyclists on the same road and regulations for cyclists as well.
Kuwait needs more competitive cycling shops, so people can order bikes and bike parts from within Kuwait instead of importing, which can be cost-prohibitive.
We need long cycling-only roads where you can do your training without worrying about motorists.
A future plan to make most of the cities and areas bike friendly on normal roads so even our children can ride their bikes safely or, as cyclists, you can ride safely from your home to the cycling road.