Masfout is a landlocked enclave of Ajman, 120km southeast of the city, and is a great base for an off-road mountain bike adventure. It’s surrounded by the majestic Hajar Mountains, which stretch for 500 kilometres from Oman’s northern Musandam peninsula, through the eastern United Arab Emirates and back down into southern Oman.
Many of the trails around Masfout follow tracks created by goats and camels as they follow the path of least resistance along the rocky mountainside (Hajar does means ‘stone’ in Arabic, after all). Half an hour’s drive north of Masfout, Shawka in Ras al Khaimah has flowing singletrack, purpose-built by enthusiastic volunteers.
As with most outdoor activities in the UAE, the best time for mountain biking is from October to May before the scorching summer temperatures kick in. A GPS is recommended, as is a repair kit, helmet and sunscreen. You can stock up on water and snacks at one of the small grocery stores in Masfout before you depart for the day’s ride.
The UAE has become a magnet for cyclists, and it’s easy to see why. Pleasant winter weather, a variety of terrains and state-of-the-art cycling tracks appeal to curious first-timers, dedicated professionals and everyone in between. As a result, the number of cycling events has increased significantly.