The following post comes from Lev Meirowitz Nelson via email:
We arrived three and a half weeks ago and have mostly settled in, aside from a few outstanding details about my study at Hebrew U’s beit midrash program. I’ve done a few training rides around Jerusalem, in between classes and things. A new friend here (Oren Hirsch, for those who know him) was kind enough to give me a Googlemap with several Jerusalem bike routes marked out on it. Jerusalem street signage being what it is, though, it took me several tries before I could follow a single route to its completion. Given the short time I had, I decided to stick to the one route I know, and so I’ve mostly done iterations of an 8ish mile loop around the city, rather than explore other, longer paths. (I say 8ish because the route he marked is 8.5 miles, but I cut some corners off it, so the total is somewhat less.) The peak of my training was last Friday, when I tried to do four loops. I felt great through the first three, but started to feel really lousy partway through the fourth and cut it a bit short. The bottom line was I spent five and a half hours on my bike, in the heat, and did something between 25-30 miles. While Hazon will require me to bike twice that in any given day, there will be more breaks and more food in between, so I think all in all it bodes well rather than poorly for me. (At least, I am choosing that interpretation.) Hazon will also be a nice change because I will no longer be riding on sidewalks. I’ll gladly take a long, hard hill if I can actually bike at full speed and not have to stop all the time for traffic lights or to dodge pedestrians.
The ride starts Wednesday morning at 6:00 am, trading sleep for more daylight and less heat. Three days of biking roughly southwest will bring us to Mitzpe Ramon, where we’ll spend Shabbat and where I will likely next write to you from. From there, two days of biking southeast will bring us to Eilat by Monday night. Tuesday I get driven back to Jerusalem, in time to go to my Tuesday evening class; all in all, I miss a week of school in exchange for an unbelievable adventure. I am looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and nervousness, as this is by far the most physically taxing thing I’ve ever attempted. But the challenge, the chance to see Israel (and especially the desert I love so much) in a new way, and the opportunity to support and reconnect with the Arava Institute and the important work it is doing more than make up for the sore muscles I expect to suffer.
With love and gratitude,