Eating for Cycling, Cycling for Eating

The Israel Ride is a partnership between The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, an environmental studies program in Israel, and Hazon, America’s largest Jewish environmental organization. Hazon does a ton of work around “food issues,” from our annual Food Conference to our network more than forty Community Supported Agriculture sites across North America–basically anywhere that Judaism and food intersect (which is practically everywhere), we talk about it. So, I would be remiss not to talk about my food experience in Israel so far.

Food becomes a whole new thing when you’re biking. Suddenly bread is not bread and vegetables are not vegetables; everything is fuel. So, when I went to breakfast this morning knowing that I would be testing my rental road bike this afternoon, I began to fuel up. Israeli breakfasts are one of my favorite things in the world, full of delicious salads and cheeses, toast and coffee and tea. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of cereal?) The breakfast served at our hotel in Jerusalem this morning was no exception. My plate was a beautiful mosaic of quinoa salad with field peppers and a tomato and mozzarella salad,  with peach yogurt on the side. Plenty of carbs and protein packaged in some pretty delicious food. For anyone who loves food and is looking for a new sport, I suggest cycling. Eating early and eating often is a requirement, especially on the 60+ mile rides we’ll be doing out here in Israel.

Anyway, back to biking…after breakfast I finally met my rental bike, a brand-new white Specialized road bike, one of many that the Israel Ride purchased this year. It’s not the same as riding my own bike, but it’s way more convenient to just pop my pedals on than to shlep my bike halfway around the world (although about half of our riders did this and are going to feel totally “at home” on their bikes as we head out tomorrow). Huge thanks to my dad and all our bike mechanics who adjusted the bike for a perfect fit.

A few other cyclists and I took our bikes out for a test drive early in the afternoon, under the hot Jerusalem sun. If you think biking in New York City is bad, let me tell you, it’s nothing compared to this holy city. Israeli drivers are notorious for their–how shall I say–driving skills and were often a little too close for comfort. But clearly since I’m writing this blog post, I survived. The test ride was short, just down the street, then up a hill, and down to a spot with an incredible view of the walls of the Old City–definitely not a site you’d see on a training ride in the US. As nerve-wracking as the experience was, it was definitely worth it. The rest of the Israel Ride won’t be in heavy traffic areas, so it seems like the worst is over.

Tonight we have a route briefing and dinner, and then it’s time for bed; we have to bed on the road by 6 am(!).

One last thing–happy birthday to my dear friend in New York. Much love from your dad and me from the Israel Ride.