Auspicious: Birthdays and Bike Rides Reflections

Falynn Schmidt will be riding on her third Israel Ride in the fall.
You can read this post and others on her blog “Baynim

This year is auspicious, although I probably said that last year too. Last year my Gregorian calendar (May 26) and Hebrew calendar (Sivan 16) birthdays aligned, which only happens once every 19 years (auspicious, right?). I am announcing the auspiciousness again because this year is my last in this most memorable of decades. [1] 

I am not quite ready to head into the next 10 years, however I, please G/d, plan to use the next 12 months to prepare myself.

To celebrate my birthday, I hope to do what I have done for the past three years, which is to ride my bicycle several hundred miles over the course of several days. It is this most childish of sports, indeed the only sport I learned to do in my childhood, that sustains my physical and mental health, makes me feel (and I dare say look) younger than my years, and gives me a grand goal of riding 400 miles.

I will picture myself, wind in my pigtails, tush on a banana seat, turquoise tassles streaming from my chopper-style handlebars. Although in fact I will have my head helmeted, tush padded by Spandex, and hands gloved gripping Blade drop handlebars. [2] Indeed the only thing the bike that I will use to get me from Jerusalem to Eilat has in common with the bike of my youth is that it is turquoise. My current bike, my pride, my baby is actually a carbon fiber Trek Madone 5.1 road bike. [3]

When the men with whom I ride circle up to sniff each other’s bikes, ask how much their full carbon frames weigh, and check out their competition’s gear, I know I measure up with my Madone. Perhaps the reason I love this sport is because it gives me the opportunity to look cool, something I didn’t have much success doing while standing on the softball sidelines waiting for someone to pick me, pick me.

The reason I am connecting my long ride to my birthday is because it, in fact, as I am getting older, keeps me young. Cycling is my mental health plan. It keeps me fit, makes me feel strong, and gives me a goal. It is a gift I give myself, and I am asking you to chip in.

I am hoping that I can count on you this year, perhaps as I have counted on you before, to donate to the good cause on whose behalf we ride. As a participant on the Israel Ride, I commit to raising money to benefit the Arava Institute, an environmental science program that brings together Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and North Americans to show the world that “nature has no borders.”

Beyond inventing more efficient modes of renewable energy, or bringing drinking water to remote Arab villages, or introducing new crops to arid areas in Israel, the Arava Institute makes friends out of otherwise unknown neighbors. Every year alumni and students from the institute join us as the crew for the ride, and they give us the opportunity to meet them and hear their stories: they never met an Arab/Jew before; their parents were against their studying in Israel/with Arabs; it’s hard to listen to the other’s narrative; sometimes the conversation gets difficult; now they have Israeli/Palestinian/Jordanian friends; it’s worth the effort.

What I am asking is that 39 of my friends each donate $100 to the Israel Ride, benefitting the Arava Institute and in honor of my auspicious birthday. You are counted amongst the 39. Of course, if 100 friends each donate $39, that works too. Any amount moves me closer to me goal.

Thank you in advance for your support, your friendship, and your auspicious birthday gift.

All the best from Jerusalem,


[1] Spoiler alert: I will say next year that is it auspicious as well, the first year in my new decade.
[2] Yeah, that didn’t mean anything to me either a year ago.
[3] Ibid.

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