Kurdish cyclist travels 3,300 km in Iraq

The 29-year-old cyclist is a graduate of the college of physical education at the University of Duhok.
author_image Kurmanj Nhili
Shaban Sherzad, Kurdish cyclist, poses for a photo under a road sign, Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)
Shaban Sherzad, Kurdish cyclist, poses for a photo under a road sign, Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)

Duhok (Kurdistan 24) – Driven by a desire to explore the diverse culture and geography of Iraq and meet new people, Shaban Sherzad left his home in Duhok on September 15  to tour the Kurdistan Region by his bicycle.

This goal and Shaban’s love for the sport, as his wish to prove that Kurdish youths can achieve a lot, have pushed him to cycle 3,300 km through all provinces of the country.

The 29-year-old cyclist is a graduate of the college of physical education at the University of Duhok.

Shaban Sherzad, a cyclist, poses for a photo in front of the historic Ur City in Dhi Qar Governorate, Oct. 12, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)
Shaban Sherzad, a cyclist, poses for a photo in front of the historic Ur City in Dhi Qar Governorate, Oct. 12, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)

He first rode his bicycle to the capital of the Kurdistan region Erbil then to Sulaimani, Halabja then he left for Chamchamal and Kirkuk.

From Kirkuk he went to Amerli, Baqubah in Diyala, Baghdad, Maysan, Wasit, Al-Qurna, Basrah, Dhi Qar, Nasiriyah, Samawah, Najaf, Karbala, Hillah in Babil, back to Baghdad, afterward to Ramadi in Anbar, Samarra, Mosul and back to Duhok.

Shaban completed his tour on October 26. Although it is tiring to be away from home for this long, the very warm hospitality of the Kurdish region and Iraqi provinces made him feel at home.

Shaban explained to Kurdistan 24 that he would set off every day at 6 in the morning, take a one-hour pause for lunch then continue until 4 in the evening, after which he would camp somewhere or find a place to rest for the night.

With his previous cycling travel which included three journeys to Turkey, Shaban has traveled 21 thousand km by bicycle so far. He has finished writing a book titled “my bicycle, my happiness”.

In his book, he gives details of his journey as a cyclist since 2012, what he saw and the obstacles, and the support he got.

Shaban Sherzad, a Kurdish cyclist, poses for a photo in front of a road sign on the road leading to the southern Iraqi province of Karbala, Oct. 16, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)
Shaban Sherzad, a Kurdish cyclist, poses for a photo in front of a road sign on the road leading to the southern Iraqi province of Karbala, Oct. 16, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)

Back in 2021, Shaban was able to ride his bicycle from Trabzon to Istanbul and back to Duhok.

What made cycling to the rest of Iraq very difficult for him was the deteriorated road conditions in the middle and south of Iraq as well as the hot and humid weather of the south.

Shaban said at the start he was nervous about cycle to central and south of Iraq fearing for his safety but he was surprised to see how well the people received and respected him.

He praised the people of Amara in Maysan as the most kind-hearted and hospitable people he met while cycling middle and south of Iraq.

Shban Sherzad, a Kuridsh cyclist, poses for a photo in front of Ishtar Gate in Babylon, Oct. 17, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)
Shban Sherzad, a Kuridsh cyclist, poses for a photo in front of Ishtar Gate in Babylon, Oct. 17, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Shaban Sherzad)

I rested in Amara and upon hearing I am Kurdish from Duhok, they gave me an overwhelming welcome that I will always remember, they were so humble that they hid my bicycle just to make me stay longer.” Said Shaban.

People of Amara told me they have suffered so much under Saddam regime and they know Kurds too have suffered under the same regime, so we always have a connection and special respect for Kurds.’ He added.