Sara Barakat – Queen of the Road

Sara Barakat “Long Distance Riders” Queen of the Road Warrior / The Motivator

My name is Sara Barakat, a proud female Middle Eastern born and raised in Egypt amidst a strongly bonded loving and supportive family with exceptional roots and yet modernized with future Avant Garde approach to the usual stereotype customs back then and given the environment brought up in. Currently residing in the cosmopolitan UAE for the past years.

As Julie Andrews said in the everlasting Sound of Music movie “Let’s start at the very beginning”. Besides all the sport activities infiltrated from childhood and still proudly clinging to the most firmly; the adrenaline rush from Motorbikes was and is a special kind of bond inherited by my beloved Father and youngest Uncle which obviously got magnified over the years. This was the steering force for bonding, meeting new people with the same hobby, inspiring others unconsciously, having mischievousness yet contained fun, the fascination of being upgraded from a bicycle to another form of 2 wheels – a motorbike. Kicking off with a 50CC engine fully automatic; then being upgraded to the 70CC two stroke fully manual; until the agile progress of current BMW GS 1250. Without a doubt enforcing the priority of safety enrichment along with basic bike mechanics know how all along rigidly.

Not the norm for a Middle Eastern female to be on a motorbike didn’t stop me from whizzing around locally and by the blessings of my parents and God’s grace which got my confidence pushed and the uniqueness embossed to date. Ultimately my sister and I proudly attained the motorcycle license amongst the first 5 females in Egypt as soon as I hit the legal age. Hats off for my parent’s extended empowerment and great faith in our capabilities and how they made the challenges they definitely faced seem completely negligent for a bigger purpose and vision. Courageous protagonists understate how I view my beloved parents and the lifetime crowning they deserve.

The motorbike hobby evolved to a lifestyle and a source of joy and fulfilment for me. With that on mind, the responsibilities over the years started to grow and the time has come to give back to the community and to be a source of inspiration to others following my dynamic childhood footsteps.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Never give up and while the sky is the limit, ongoing training is key to reach more and more milestones amputating failure from the diction as it has no room for entertainment what so ever.

While people are under the impression that experience and educational credentials are needed solely for work and career progression, the hobby equally does if not more but in its own scale and scope of dynamics. Managed to play vital roles in the registered Motorcycle Club I’m affiliated to – HAWKS MC on a committee base level serving the role of Membership Officer for Abu Dhabi Chapter for more than 3 yeas with great collective success stories while in parallel holding a Global role for Merchandise affairs for the 8 active chapters in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Egypt, Lebanon, Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, and Poland. This is besides completing regular on-going yard training named Stage One and Stage Two to keep improving riding skill set leading to being selected for a series of condensed theoretical, yard and road training to be a certified Road Marshal which successfully achieved after months and months of training. Bearing in mind being already a certified Moto Marshal granted by Emirates Motorsports Organization – EMSO with a registered license.

Embarking on a simultaneous set time and distance challenge has been on my bucket list for years and years and for one or the other reason it never materialised beforehand. Quoting from the writer Simon Van Booy “Coincidences mean you’re on the right path.” Finally, crowned King of the Road-KOR challenger or in my case Queen of the Road Warrior in January 2024 through 1 of the worldwide known associations “Long Distance Riders – LDR” achieving 2500 km in 36 hours sparked by pure coincidence. Through the power of communication in such knitted bikers’ community, read a “final call” message on “Biker Brotherhood Riders” chat group that has 200+ bikers created by the hard-core biker Vivek Mehta stating final call for those interested in an endurance ride to reach out immediately. Vivek Mehta happens to be the Ambassador of three of the key International endurance organizations IBA / LDR and Wheel Warriors. Enthusiastically messaged Vivek to know more about the 4 W’s and 1 H (who, where, what, when & how). The endurance then was in 5 days’ time. No pressure at all. There were key 3 questions prompted by Vivek besides providing him a quick résumé on my motorbike riding portfolio. Can you drive up to the highest allowed road speed of 160 km per hour, can you sustain long distance riding time and what was the highest distance you reached in KM?

Since there was a scheduled group of 6 bikers planning KOR for more than a month; we can all agree that at that time I’m the parachute intruder. Hence Vivek Mehta requested a “Mentor’s choice” which allows one brother or sister not from that group of riders to be added to the challenge. Pure coincidence was the bliss and saver. Shout out to Vivek Mehta for taking the risk in nominating me especially that we had met only a hand full of times. Another set of Kudos go to each and every rider who contributed to the success of the endurance in their own unique way. The Endurance initiator / Captain Garo Weladian, the navigator Sultan Al Oran, Ahmed Anab, Mohamed Loochab, Majid Mansour, and last but definitely not least the vitals provider Dr Essam Youssef.

Now the fun begins and since it’s a small world after all yet a fast-growing diversified community. I knew the group initiator and captain Garo Weladian and his charming wife Nathalie Kalousdian through the long back acquaintance goes where Nathalie and I collaborated over years for the same riding Motorcycle Club affiliated to.

Although we’re in a cosmopolitan country and in the year of 2024, none the less, the concept of being a female jumping in for such an endurance came across as a shocker and potentially a risk of being the weakest link for the whole group. Nonetheless, the group was very welcoming and they even suggested that exceptionally incase God forbid any break down happens to me the team will stop and support until everything is resolved which in such challenges is not the case since the challenge is strictly time and distance but since I’m a female they all willingly agreed they won’t leave me alone. Bless them for that. In light of my humble compiled experience, just had a hand full of crucial questions specifically related to the route and exact gas stations stops, safety related and overall plan questions. This led to great flexibility by key stakeholders to fine tune certain plans to ensure hassle free way forward as suggested. A reconfirmation of “never judge a book by its cover” is what came to live as we kicked off the endurance. “Wonder Woman” / Warrior / “The Motivator” as the fellow riders and Vivek described me. Who would have thought that my “small yet mighty” presence will serve as a great motive for riders and myself to complete the finish line and not pull out in between as some claimed during the way which is totally understandable! My enthusiasm took an extra edge letting me roll my sleeves to actively marshal to clear ways and extend safety of the tribe in coordination with Captain Garo for smooth sailing.

The completion of every milestone to reach King of the Road was celebrated to keep the momentum going. Ultimately achieved 2500 in 34 hours out of the allotted 36 in the nick of time for various reasons with breath-taking moments yet a memorable endurance with a lot of lessons learnt and all senses being challenged along the way and still not discouraging us from completing KOR wrapped with adrenaline and loads of fun. As we celebrated the arrival of KOR certificates and pins, was humbly taken by surprise that I was nominated by the full group and approved by LDR Ambassador and President the Certificate of Recognition for “unwavering determination, road marshalling, tribe safety and overall dedication”. I was and still am swept off my feet by the heart-warming recognition.

Specific supporting steps are strictly to be followed throughout the endurance to ensure validation at the end. Ride with GPS application is the approved tool to keep track of distance and time progress ensuring the auto pass is off/ north up/ metric unit KM; on every petrol fuelling stop, the slip to be printed with odometer mileage /the stop number/ the rider name and then capture the slip next to the odometer; what’s app live location to be shared and refreshed every 8 hours where every participating rider can be seen on the live location. Group photo to be captured. Screen shots of the GPS to be shared progressively and shared on the communication.

Everyone thinks that mission is accomplished upon successful completion of 2500 km in 36 hours. Actually, the real journey is just about to start where all supporting proof is needed to fully validate the Endurance otherwise the completion will be unaccounted for and no certificate will be issued. For that, I have to extend a massive shout out to Majid Mansour for being the Champion to collate and submit all needed documents. A phenomenal job well done. The right person assigned to complete such a massive task. We were the first group to be fully validated by Vivek Mehta’s enhanced scope of duties. This is a great step and sign of trust granted by Jack Powis the President of Long Distance Riders – LDR. Vivek has been the Middle East Ambassador for 7 years with 250 issued certificates in the Middle East.

The biking community gathers people who complement each other to stay focused on the right track no matter what and no matter how different the bikes are and how different in personality and experience the bikers are.

Main lessons learnt to list a few from the Endurance:

  • The route to have the exact gas station stops.
  • Choose roads with the high allowed speed limit and least traffic
  • Contingency planning is key in case of any un planned situation pop out
  • Having an equipped bike is one thing but the rider not being geared physically and mentally will not lead to any promising results.
  • Check your bike beforehand and as my late Auntie used to say, don’t wear new shoes on big events, wear them before hand to ensure they will loosen up and will be tolerated to avoid pain and blisters. Similarly, do not install new gadgets just before an endurance without having ample time to try it out in case tweaks are needed.
  • Have proper night sleep before hand
  • General motorbike checks beforehand
  • Group members to know exactly the strategy to manage expectations effectively and for ease of Endurance completion
  • Have an Endurance Alumni share their experience and suggest sound advices
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tool Kit presence
  • Jerry Can with extra fuel
  • Windshield is a must
  • Stay hydrated at all times with water
  • Time discipline is essential
  • A face to face meet up with the other group members before the ride to break the ice
  • Try to do the challenge following the normal biological clock
  • Ensure your throat is kept warm at all times. Wear a balaclava
  • Split the tasks amongst group riders
  • Back rest is a must
  • Capture fun moments and milestones as you go
  • Have an emergency contact list shared just in case needed
  • Have vitamins to keep the immune boosted
  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Assigning a Captain and Sweeper for the ride following the do’s and dont’s. Ensure clear internal communication during the ride through Packtalk or Sena mesh communication.
  • Starting and ending at a gas station
  • Mobile charging cable
  • Power bank on stand by
  • Create a group chat
  • Check the expected weather forecast to minimise a lot of variables and un necessary risks
  • Constant availability of data and network connection.

As I proudly shared the achieved milestone across the nestled community, got surprised by the inspiration spread with an evident promising ripple effect especially in the Women biking community. This reinforces the resemblance of Female empowerment allowing equity and inclusivity to keep up with the fast pace world we are at and moving towards. More females are now encouraged to join the biking community with more ambitions ahead of them. Worth mentioning the females have been officially celebrating for the past 17 years the International Female Ride Day -IFRD which takes place globally on the 1st Saturday of every May to honour and highlight the female riders in both motorsports and powersports. In UAE, we proudly celebrate the day by having a parade in collaboration with respected officials and though the heat starts to steam in, it does not stop 70+ female bikers to gather early hours of the day to celebrate the joyous occasion in great vibes. From that annual day, the female bikers started to have regular catch up get together and participate in more activities with an open platform of asking questions and supporting one another. Worth adding the Women Riders World Relay that was initiated by an active British Rider to have a GPS baton travel the whole world wrapping it in UAE reinforcing the empowerment and that unity is what reaches the extra miles and keeps us going.

Always look at the light at the end of the tunnel to stay reminded that will power is in the rider and not in the power of the bike and cannot and will never be vice versa ever. Now, Coast to Coast is next in line as a milestone to look forward to which will entail a lot of planning especially that it is only recent that Middle East has been granted the opportunity. Until then, empowering other bikers and females in particular to complete any of the 3 Endurance forms (Easy Rider / Full Throttle/ King of the Road) is one of the continued key focus goals for 2024.

I can clearly confirm that celebration and childhood go hand in hand reaching stunning rewarding milestones and spread of spur to those around on all aspects in life.

Since a picture says a thousand words, below are few vivid snaps of King of the Road 2024.

1 comment

woow bravo the iron lady…..

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