Abu Dhabi-based cyclist Roisin Thomas will embark on a gruelling 472km cycle across the seven emirates of the UAE on Wednesday morning.
The 28-year-old is the first women to cycle around the seven emirates having completed the challenge last year in just under 16 hours.
Starting at 5am, Thomas will set off from Abu Dhabi before cycling through Dubai, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, and then finishing up in Nad Al Sheba.
She leads a team of five who will stop every 50km for hydration and rest breaks as they attempt to finish the ride in record time.
“The whole idea came from being stuck in the same routine for too long. I was cycling a lot and it got a bit monotonous, so I decided why not do something different, something extraordinary,” said Thomas.
“Nobody had done it before, certainly no women has done it before. It was a huge commitment, to say that you are going to do it, you have to commit it, even though you go through stuff that takes away your confidence from being able to complete it.”
“You have to be confident in yourself and believe in yourself. I just want to inspire people, it certainly inspired a lot of people to start cycling after last year’s challenge. I love cycling and I want to be able to share the passion that I felt. I wanted to let people know that when you commit to something, go through with it, don’t say something and then be flaky.”
The other riders supporting Roisin are Raslan Abbadi of Jordan, Ahmed Al Haj of UAE, Andrew Laity of England and Rener Kabayan of the Philippines.
Hailing from Achill in the west of Ireland, Thomas has emerged as one of the region’s best female cyclists since arriving in the UAE nearly three years ago.
Competing with the Besport team in the capital, Thomas was pedaling up to 650km a week, but has since cut down to a more specific 400km a week programme that covers sprinting and climbing.
Earlier this year, she won the #ridetoabudhabi fastest lap and the Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycling Challenge – a win that subsequently earned her qualification for the UCI World Championships in August.
In February, she attended a two-week training camp with Astana professional team in Italy, gaining a vital insight into how the elite riders train.
“It was an experience that you could never buy. To be able to train at a level with professional riders was incredible, going into the mountains riding 120-140km a day,” she added.
“It was very routine which I liked. It’s very team orientated. Your under strict rules with regards getting up, eating, training and resting. It was a fantastic experience.”
Thomas and her strong team of riders are expected to finish at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday morning around 2am.