Friday was day three of the 2010 Israel Ride. One group rode 35 miles from Mashabei Sabe to Mitzpe Ramon, while another did the same with an additional 9-mile off road section on mountain bikes to Ein Akev, a desert spring. The group of the strongest cyclists rode 61 miles along the Egyptian border on an army patrol road. Apparently the Egyptian guards on the border were excited to see the parade of cyclists and waved at our men and women, serving as an unexpected source of encouragement. It was a challenging day for all, with many hills, all longer and steeper than we had yet encountered, standing between us and Mitzpe Ramon. With three days on the saddle, it was finally time to take one off and to celebrate Shabbat.
Shabbat is very much about the concept of rest, and not necessarily prayer as some assume; the root of Hebrew word Shabbat means to cease or to rest. Just as I wrote that eating while cycling suddenly becomes very different, so too is resting on Shabbat. It really becomes a day of physical recovery, and of gratitude for what your body has done for you over the past week. Both this recovery and gratitude are imperative, especially following fewer hours of sleep than we’d like (we’re usually on the road by 6 am on this ride) and international travel. For many of us, the miles we’ve ridden represent some of the longest and most challenging routes we’ve ever done, and for others, they’re still not easy–as Greg LeMond, three-time Tour de France winner, said, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” The rest is appreciated by all.
Shabbat also provides the opportunity to continue to meet other riders and to get to know them better. One father/son team is celebrating the son’s bar mitzvah, and so the rider’s younger sister, cousins, grandparents, and mother joined our group for dinner. We had more than 30 guests over Shabbat, there to celebrate the accomplishments of their parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Despite it being a day of rest, there was plenty to do, with options to attend yoga, text study, services, hike to Makhtesh Ramon, or just hang out by the pool. It all ended with havdalah overlooking the makhtesh, where we shared moments and feelings we had experienced over the past few days, congratulated a crew member from the Arava Institute on his proposal over Shabbat, and welcomed the new week with songs and dance.
Shavua tov from all, to all. To another week of great riding!