2009 Fall Israel Ride: Reports from the Field

Day Six: Monday, November 9 Kibbutz Ketura to Eilat

David Eisenberg Eilat, Israel, on the red sea. We’ve biked just shy of 310 miles since leaving Tzfat, everyone one of them fantastic.

Robert Rosenbaum – Kibbutz Ketura to Eilat – 47 miles. We started out our final day climbing over 38 miles to Mt Hizkiyanu. We had a well deserved lunch on top of the mountain, where you can see Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudia Arabia. We then decended 5 miles (very steep) into Eliat. Relaxed at the Red Sea. Our closing banquet is this evening. Don’t want this to end!

Andrea Hendler : Israel Ride completed! Day five had us leave from Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava Desert and ride to Eilat with lots and lots of hills in between (although it looks like it would be all downhill on a map, it surely isn’t). All I can say is that I am living in an incredibly beautiful and diverse country!

After well over 200 miles of riding from the North to the South, I feel blessed to have ridden with such an amazing group of people on behalf of two amazing organizations making a huge difference in the environment and peace movements in the Middle East (it’s not too late to donate to them through the attached link to my rider page).

Day Five: Sunday, November 8 Mitzpe Ramon to Kibbutz Ketura

Andrea Hendler: Day Four completed! Mitzpe Ramon to Kibbutz Ketura (at least 43 miles of it due to a minor wind/sandstorm) with a stop at Kibbutz Lotan for a tour of an ecological village on the way. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the views were on the steep descents into the Arava Desert. Now I totally understand the allure of desert life.

Robert Rosenbaum- 62 miles. Started the day with Shacharit at the Machtesh. A family of Ibex joined our minyan. We then decended into the Machtesh, rode across it and then climbed out. With 15 miles remaining 25-30 mph headwinds hit us. We were welcomed @ the kibbutz with refreshments and then a BBQ for dinner.

Day Four: Saturday, November 7 Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon

Robert Rosenbaum Shabbat- The bike ride group is in Mitzpe Ramon – southern Negev. We had a very nice Shabbat dinner last night. Great to just relax and talk with new friends. Went on a walk this morning to the Makhtesh, a large crator-like formation from geological errosion. Also Ibex roaming freely. See the attached photos.

Day Three: Friday, November 5 Northern Negev to Mitzpe Ramon

Andrea Hendler
Three completed! Rode from Mashabim (in the Northern Negev desert) up many, many hills (some quite steep) to Mitzpe Ramon (a crater like the Grand Canyon) in the middle of the Negev desert. Seeing the burial site of David Ben Gurion and a Nabatean fortress along the spice route were highlights! Finally shabbat (a well deserved day of rest) has come!

Robert Rosenbaum: We rode from the Northern Negev to Mitzpe Ramon- 30 miles of steep hills. One was 5 miles long. Total climb of 1,500 ft.Our route took use to Sde Boker, the kibbutz where David Ben Gurion lived and is buried. We passed Avdat- an ancient Nabatean fortress on the spice trade route.

David Eisenberg
: We’re in the Desert Now!
We awoke to Day 3 in a very different setting then the Mediterranean Sea, where we ended Day 2. To allow this year’s ride to cover both the north and the south of Israel, we were bussed last night from Ceaserea to Kibbutz Mashabim, in the Negev Desert. Today, we began our ride through the desert.

Today’s route was the shortest of the ride, allowing us to take time out for 10 miles of mountain biking in the valley behind Sde Boker, the Kibbutz where David Ben Gurion is buried, and still make the roughly 30 mile climb (mostly) to Mitzpeh Ramon. The route was as beautiful as the hills were long!

Some special moments along the route:

The mountain bike ride from Sde Boker is amazing, everyone should do it at least once! About 4.5 miles into the desert, we came to a natural desert spring where many of the riders took a swimming break in the 6 meter deep pool of (i’m told) ice cold, fresh water — wonderfully refreshing as the temps in the valley felt like they were in the 90’s, at least. It was hot!

It is day 3, we are getting to know each other better. This is one of the reasons why it is so much fun to do the Israel Ride, again and again. In addition to the route, which is fantastic, and the riding, there are the people. The riders are from all (okay, most) walks of life, whose common bond is that they care about Israel. What a wonderful foundation to start new friendships from! Having done the ride before, it is now a special reunion with old friends, and a chance to make new ones.

Day Two: Thursday, November 4 Kinneret to the Meditereanean

Robert Rosenbaum
Rode from Kibbutz Ma’agan to Cesarea- 60 miles. This leg took us from the Kinneret, up over the Jezrael Valley, past Mt. Gilboa, through the ancient town of Magiddo and then on to the Medeterranean. It was a tough day of hills. We were bused down to the Negav for Day 3.

David Eisenberg: From Sea to Sea!
Day Two of the Israel ride took us from sea (the Kinneret) to sea (the Mediterranean). In two days now, we’ve basically done a loop around the northern part of the country … from Tzfat, north almost to Lebanon, East almost to Syria (almost is a good thing in these cases), south to the southern edge of the Kinneret, and now west back to the coast. The first 145 miles of our Israel Ride are behind us!

One thing I’ve learned — the “granny gear” is my friend. In past years, where I probably conditioned more for the ride, I didn’t use it a lot, though I now realize that it was always there for me. This year, I like it! Though today’s ride was marked by more “rolling” hills than some of the very long climbs that we did yesterday, granny let me enjoy all of it.

Also, as you bike through the north, you witness first hand the miracle that is modern Israel – in some areas, the terrain and land is not so different from what it must have looked like 100 years ago — challenging. But, throughout the day, as we made our way back to the coast, we saw the farms, some of the industry, and development that now support a thriving (even this year!) economy and a population that has grown to over seven million! It’s amazing.

Over the first two days of the ride, we also learned a lot about the JNF and their role in the development of the area. Accept for the “truck stops” or bus stops, virtually every other place that we have stopped is a JNF/KKL park or recreation area, and they are all beautiful. Beyond the infrastructure, reforestation, water projects. etc., signs of the JNF’s role as the “caretaker of the land of Israel” are everywhere. As a member of Team JNF and a member of the JNF in Boston, it is really great to see. Additionally, Alon Tol, the founder of the Arava Institute is the lead environmental educator on the ride, and he has been great about drawing our attention to the many things that are being done, or can be done, to assure sustainable, environmentally sound development here. One of the big investments that is being made now, throughout the country, is the investment in bike routes (both road and off road) that will make most of the country a more “bike friendly” environment. I’m good with that!

Day One: Wednesday, November 3 Tzfat to Kinneret

David Eisenberg, Boston, MA

Wow! I don’t know where to start,. but there is a lot to share from the first day of the November 2009 Israel Ride. I’ll start with the highlights:

1. While this is my 4th Israel Ride, it is not getting old. Today’s route, from Tzfat, north towards Lebanon, then East, through the Hula Valley, and into the Golan Heights (formerly controlled by Syria), then south, past the Kinneret to Kibbutz Maagan on the south eastern edge of the Kinneret, was just fantastic.

2. It was truly exciting, gratifying, and really beyond words for Adam and Michelle to join me for the first day of the ride. They both did the complete route, and did it in a way that would make any parent proud. For Michelle, especially, just a few records were broken today:
– the farthest, by over 65 miles, she had ever ridden a bicycle (she rode about 74 miles today)
– the most challenging climb, over five miles, that she had ever done on a bike (and she did a great job of it)
– the fastest, on one big downhill, that she had ever ridden a bike (I won’t say, but it was fast)

3. This is an archeologically and historically rich part of Israel and, as a result, the day included several ‘teaching’ stops, which really added to the texture of the day. Not to mention that they provided some welcome breaks!

4. Awesome weather. I’m not sure who arranged it, but the rain of the past week came to a screeching halt and, other than delaying the start of today’s ride by a few minutes, it had no effect on us — we had near perfect weather.

It was about 74 miles of hard work, special time with family, a chance to visit with some old friends, and time to meet some new ones. And, great fun. A day on the Israel Ride!

Robert Rosenbaum, Marietta, GA

Our Day 1 ride was from Tzfat to Kibbutz Ma’agan today- 72 miles. The trip took us along the Upper Galliee, down into the Hula Valley, across the valley to Rosh Pina, and then finally down to the Kinneret- where Ma’agan is located. Magnificent views along the way. We had just enough time to eat dinner and brief for tomorrow’s ride, before going to sleep. We leave tomorrow @ 5:40 AM for Day 2 of the ride- From Ma’agan to Sdot-Yam (by the sea).

Andrea Hendler, Jerusalem, IL

One day of riding down, four more to go. Today we rode from Tzfat to the Hula Valley (40 miles) with a nice visit to a bird migration park at the end. Sleeping on the Sea of Galilee tonight and riding from here to Caesaria tomorrow (oy!)

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