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Meet Emirati motocross champion Mohammed Al Balooshi

Words by Rob Chilton

The five-time Arab Motocross Champion and 2018 FIM Bajas World Cup winner speaks to EDGAR about concussion, coronavirus and finding peace in the desert

We started by asking Al Balooshi about his 2020 motocross season that was due to start in late March in Portugal, but has been postponed due to Covid-19.

What's the latest news on your motocross season?

Due to the current global health crisis, the Baha World Cup is being postponed and the new dates are yet to be announced. I’m looking forward to participating when it finally takes place and I have worked hard in preparation for the competition. The situation we all find ourselves in with coronavirus is unpredictable and has caused a lot of delays and cancellations across the globe. However, I am trying to stay optimistic and look forward to my normal routine once the revised racing calendar is announced.

How did it feel to win the Bajas World Cup in 2018?

Unreal! It was particularly exciting to see that all the hard work had paid off and that, not only did I win, but I was able to accomplish one of the major goals that I had set myself. I am a very proud Emirati, and being able to raise the UAE flag for the country I love and to represent the Middle East region was a great honour. I love riding and I see races as a platform to showcase my art and to express my passion. To be able to be so successful, and in a race such as the Bajas World Cup… there are really no words that can describe what that meant to me.

Balooshi loves the desert

What's the most beautiful place you've raced?

It’s difficult to choose. I’d say Peru, Bolivia and Chile and also Saudi Arabia. It’s shockingly different to the UAE and although they both have a lot of similarities when it comes to the desert and the dunes, Saudi Arabia differs with mountains, valleys and dry riverbeds which are breathtaking.

What do you love about desert racing?

I love the feeling of being one with the bike, crossing dunes and whatever comes my way and overcoming them - it is an amazing feeling and really fulfilling.

Do you find it a peaceful place?

The quietness of the desert makes you feel like you are leaving your mark while you’re riding across it and breaking the silence. It’s very hard to explain but ultimately, I feel at peace when I am racing in the desert and it gives me a lot of meaning in life when I am experiencing it.

Proud to represent the UAE

What was your worst fall during a race?

I have had quite a few. The concussions are more difficult than breaking bones because you don’t know when you can jump back on the bike. I had quite a bad crash at the Abu Dhabi 2018 Desert Challenge. I basically didn’t know what happened except for the glimpse of getting airlifted by a helicopter. Other than that, my memory of that incident is blank.

Does the UAE have a healthy motocross scene?

Yes, and it continues to grow. I’ve been in the industry for the past 21 years and interest in motocross has grown a lot in the region but from what I’ve seen, the off-road scene is still a lot bigger.

Why did you start riding so late at 20 years old?

In my teenage years, I was doing a lot of martial arts, football and weight training but motocross wasn’t something I was able to financially afford at the time. When I got the chance to try it, I went for it and here I am 21 years later, still loving it.

Are you a thrill-seeker generally in life?

In everyday life, I’m not a thrill-seeker. Many people look at my job and see it as thrilling but for me, it’s just my passion.

Al Balooshi started riding late at 20 years old

How does Garmin technology improve your racing?

It’s like having a personal trainer. With the device I’m using, the Fenix 6x Pro Solar, I can upload my course to the watch so I can track my progress during training, which is extremely helpful, as is mapping my track when in terrains or mountain where I can easily get lost.

Does it help your fitness?

Being able to track my activity including my respiration rate and pulse is important, as is knowing my oxygen levels when racing in high altitudes or My device has a feature called Vo2Max that serves as a performance monitoring tool, telling me how I improved my fitness level in any workout. Stress levels are monitored as well and if it does go too high, it gives me tutorials to reduce it.

We’re guessing they need to be pretty tough devices?

Yes, considering the nature of my sport, let's say I welcome the durability!

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