Riding for life
For many, cycling is much more than a leisurely pursuit or a gentler mode of transport; it’s a way of life. With a growing cycling community in the country, Lebanon Traveler speaks to two Lebanese cyclists passionate about the power of the bike
Jad Abou Arrage,
assistant professor at Lebanese University and member of Polyliban
What got you into cycling in Lebanon?
I started as an amateur and used to rent a bike for easy rides along the northern coast between Byblos and Batroun and in the Chouf. In 2010, I volunteered for a non-competitive multi-sports events organized by the Association du Polyliban, a Lebanese non-profit association working for the promotion of sports and culture through cycling as well as other activities in nature. Polyliban’s objectives and spirit motivated me to buy my own bike and start doing longer rides with the aim of discovery, challenge, and the enjoyment of the Lebanese landscape.
What are some of the best regions in Lebanon to see by bike?
The Lebanese landscape offers different sceneries where we can enjoy cycling, from the coastline to the highest mountains and the Bekaa Valley; you can cycle on paved roads, dirt roads or technical pathways. Personally, I prefer to cycle in remote rural areas to benefit from the calm, where I can explore natural and cultural heritage while pedaling.
How can cycling help create positive societal change in Lebanon?
I became an active member of Polyliban in 2012. Cycling could be part of the solution for the transportation system in urban and sub-urban areas; it is contributing to rural and natureorientated tourism activities and giving the opportunity to many Lebanese and foreigners to discover the country in a different way, appreciate its beauty and work for its conservation. polyliban.org
economist and cycling enthusiast
How long have you been cycling?
I’ve always cycled. I used to study in Paris and had a bike; every weekend I used to go outside Paris by bike and sometimes I would cycle around the Loire Valley and camp.
How often do you cycle?
I usually do a weekly cycle in Lebanon at the weekends. I like to climb so I usually cycle in the mountains where there is no traffic. I’ll cycle maybe 50km per ride in the Metn district, which is where I live.
Has the cycling community grown in Lebanon?
It’s definitely growing in Lebanon. I used to have a couple of friends to cycle with me, now I know at least 60 people. It’s really expanded over the past four years.
Is it a challenge cycling in Beirut?
I don’t cycle in Beirut much as it’s dangerous for everyone.
What do you enjoy about cycling?
I like the open air and it’s faster than walking. It's exercise plus you have a bit of speed. It’s a way to enjoy the landscape or nature. Though I usually cycle the same main routes and know the landscapes well; once a year I try to travel and discover a new region by bike.
Would you commute to work by bike?
It’s not just a question of danger, it’s very hard. In summer, it’s out of the question because it’s too hot and within 15 minutes you’re completely soaked. In winter it’s the opposite – when it rains it really pours here. So there are only a few months where it’s comfortable to commute by bike, it’s not easy to do on a regular basis. I do commute by bike when I have the chance to.