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FEATURE ❘ EGYPT


Ride like an Egyptian


So how safe is it really to ride in Egypt? Margaret Jones explains.


‘I


t’s not dangerous,’ the young man says, with easy confidence. ‘We take the road.’ He and his fellow- cyclists, are gathered, with their shiny sports bikes, outside the San Stefano Mall in Alexandria this Friday morning for their weekly ride. It always takes them the same route – up to Montaza, then down again the other way, ending up at Qait Bey Citadel – a round trip of 20 miles. No wonder they all look so fit. They don’t seem one bit concerned about braving the morning traffic that even at 8.30 am is already hurtling past at a scary pace. They crowd round at the kerbside like club cyclists the world over, checking their machines, sharing maintenance tips, swapping stories. Do they undertake this Corniche run all year round? I ask. Not in winter if it’s been raining, they say. ‘Then it’s too difficult.’ There can be puddles and flooded drains on the road, ‘and sometimes things hidden under the water.’ What sort of things? It could be an open drain, a pile of rubble, a dead cat even. They feel safer when they can see where they’re going. At least they can be sure of nearly all-year-round sunshine – something cyclists in many other countries would envy.


In the Costa café at the Mall I run into Reem, an IT engineer with Vodafone. She’s here with a group of women friends to join the Corniche run. Reem takes part in triathlons, and regularly cycles long distances. She’s ridden in fund raising cycle marathons in Europe. Not all women cyclists are as confident as Reem though, as she freely admits. Some who do the weekly Corniche ride, she says, stay off the road and ‘take their mountain bikes on the side- walk.’ So how safe, really is all this riding about in traffic?


Cycling in Egypt was once just a way of getting about for people with no car. It was transport for the young man in shabby work


54 www.cyclingworldmag.com


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