Famous muslim cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam. An introduction.

The greatest Arabic cycling journalist in history.

Who is revered Muslim cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam? A quick look at his astonishing career.

He is a self taught man of wide ranging interests and curiosities: botanist, amateur film editor, a specialist in the Russian impressionists and card shark. Those who know him well claim he is the best Western Swing dancer in the Middle East. He has an astonishing collection of Stax era Philly soul records, plays the Japanese shamisen, a three stringed lute, and is a master of Double Dutch jump roping.

The only child of nomadic bedouins, Abdul grew up poor, lonely and starved for food. At the age of eight, while picking through a desert garbage dump, he came upon an old Motobecane frame and his life changed forever. Over the next 5 years he patiently restored the frame, begging parts off European sailors who had stopped in the port of Muscat. One witness said Al Salaam could assemble a vintage campagnolo Record set blinded folded in five minutes. Selling hashish to fund his restoration, he completed the bike and began training by chasing camels across the wadis.

Then his life took another turn. After winning the attentions of the Sultans’ wife, Al Salaam was forced to flee Oman on a fishing trawler bound for Peru, where he endured 5 years of exile. He spent his time studying Inca sacrificial customs, establishing a Bordeaux style winery and riding his trusty bike high up into the Andes mountains.

It was during this time that he formulated certain theories about high altitude training and bio-psychology. He wrote three books on the subject of snow and recorded a parody song called “Camels Have No Pedals, that hit #1 on the charts in Brazil. A chance meeting with four time Paris-Roubaix winner Roger De Vlaeminck in a Cusco bar, altered his fate once again. Al Salaam moved to Belgium where he became a soigneur, mechanic and motivational coach to some of the greatest cyclists of the age. Moser, Merckx, Hinault and a young Johan Museeuw all benefited from his wisdom and tactical brilliance.

Sadly, on the verge of being named the Belgian National Team coach, Abdul Al Salaam was nearly killed while out riding his trusty Motobecane. Hit by an aging Citroen, he sustained massive injuries and trauma, spending three months in intensive care in a deep coma. It was only the surprise midnight visit of boyhood hero Rik Van Steenbergen that brought him out of his deathlike sleep.

Abdul Al Salaam immediately returned to his home in Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman, where he began his cycling journalism career with feverish intensity. Sometimes he wrote for days on end about a single section of cobblestone in the Tour of Flanders. Al Salaam buried himself in what he considered his life’s work. As always he was patiently assisted by his third wife, Sophie, a former podium girl he met during the ’61 Tour de France.

Now blind and afflicted by searing migraines, he still finds time to listen to old Tour de France races on a battered VCR. A steady steam of guests keep his spirits up — just this last week famed cycling writer John Wilcockson stopped by for tea. Happily the inaugural Tour of Oman stage race has allowed true cycling fans to discover this singularly fascinating and influential man.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cancellara wins time trial and overall in Tour of Oman. Goodbye Abdul. « Twisted Spoke - February 19, 2010

    […] so we must also leave behind revered Arabic cycling commentator Abdul Al Salaam, who has enlivened the race with his predictions and amusing presence. Now blind and in failing […]

  2. Chihuahua dies. Adios Mexican stage race. | Twisted Spoke - November 2, 2010

    […] (there’s a shock) is bringing professional cycling to places like Malaysia, India, Qatar and Oman. But given the number of Spanish speaking riders in the peloton and interest in South America and […]

  3. Twisted Spoke dream Santa list | Twisted Spoke - December 24, 2010

    […] of Arabia on bikes — plus, it’s an opportunity to meet revered Arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam. Share Uncategorized cycling gifts, Santa, wish list Pegasus horse-whipped […]

  4. Boonen to race tour of Qatar and Oman. A desert double win? | Twisted Spoke - December 27, 2010

    […] the Desert Double? No one knows the answer — except perhaps revered Muslim cyclist journalist Abdul Al Salaam. Share Quick Step, Tom Boonen, Tour of Qatar Quick Step, Tom Boonen, Tour of Q […]

  5. oom wins Qatar prologue, Cavendish hits deck. | Twisted Spoke - February 6, 2011

    […] Arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam was at the start in Doha and had this to say about Boom: “He looks like a camel with two […]

  6. Boonen wins in Qatar. On track for Desert double. | Twisted Spoke - February 7, 2011

    […] of Qatar and the Tour of Oman in a show of Flanders-Roubaix power? Revered Arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam thinks anything is possible. “He is like a big Oryx except for the horns and large ears. But […]

  7. Haussler outsprints peloton camels in Qatar. | Twisted Spoke - February 8, 2011

    […] Arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam spent time with Mark Cavendish. The two shared a hookah at the HTC-Columbia bus. The sprinter would […]

  8. Qatar heroes: Boonen & Cavendish. | Twisted Spoke - February 9, 2012

    […] Twisted Spoke says bring on Oman, the Paris-Roubaix of the shifting desert sands. Expect a full preview and report from famous Muslim cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam. […]

  9. Boonen is back: Tornado hits desert again. | Twisted Spoke - February 12, 2014

    […] to Mesaieed, Tornado Tom showed he is well and truly back. Famed Middle Eastern cycling commentator Abdul Al Salaam sees a rededicated fast-man this year. “He is like a hungry jackal that rips all the meat […]

  10. Oman, oh boy. No, really. | Twisted Spoke - February 13, 2015

    […] famous cycling commentator¬†Abdul Al Salaam. The man had an incredibly varied career that’s definitely worth the read. While he was okay with Qatar and never saw Dubai, he was a huge supporter of the Tour of Oman. […]

Leave a Reply