Mohamad Alali Explorer & Own this City. The Cedar Green Marathon on Mar 27 from Beirut to Jbeil was the first of its kind in the region. Participants, volunteers and staff were encouraged to strive for an environment-friendly Lebanon. Time Out met Mohamad Alali from Bike Generation, the man who pulled together a team of cyclists to support the runners at the marathon. Find out his top tips for cyclists in Beirut and how talking to himself during a seven-month tour kept him sane.
Where did the idea for gathering a team of cyclists for Cedar Green Marathon come from?
The idea of reducing CO2 emissions at the marathon meant using a machine that would keep up with the runners. The only way of doing this was by using bikes. Roger [Bejjani the organiser and President of Inter-Lebanon Road Running & Athletics Club] contacted Bike Generation with his idea. At Bike Generation we consider ourselves as an organisation that wants to change the Lebanese culture, and this concept was part of the marathon, so it was a good match.
Why are events like these important?
They are an important factor in changing people’s minds and lifestyle. Sports keep them occupied by keeping them busy. In Beirut, we need more and more of these events.
Any top tips for cycle routes in and around Beirut?
That’s a tough question. Around Beirut there is a good route for cycling, I wish that at some point they will make a ‘cycle only day’. One of the Bike Generation members is working hard on a project with the Lebanese and French governments to create a bike path from the North [of Lebanon] to the South. He has all my support and I hope that he will come up with all the support he needs for this project. Other than that, all the mountainous area around here is good for cycling, either on-road or off-road. An off-road track that runs from Fariya through Fakkra club to Zaarour resorts, then all the way down to Baskinta, Bikfayha and Beirut. In that course you will be doing off-road into some resorts and nice areas into on-road areas and into Beirut. It’s not very long, not more than 40km in total.
What’s the best thing about cycling?
The freedom. You are not locked into a gym or four walls so you are travelling and navigating through these beautiful lands that you will never find if you’re going by car or train. So… Hakuna Matata.
You cycled around the Mediterranean alone for seven months. How did you keep yourself entertained?
I’m a person who entertains himself easily. I will be thinking about lots of things and at the same time I can be talking to other people even if they’re not listening to me. I will be posing the questions [and] answering. Cars can be passing me and I’ll talk to them.
What is your next big project?
Cycling the Silk Road