by Carl Jacobs
We will be doing a lot of hill climbing (sorry, it is just the nature of the geography here). Sometimes it seems like you climb all the way to Eilat, but that is not the case. There are some absolutely spectacular downhill runs that make up for all the intermediate climbs. Riding into the Maktesh on Sunday is a real treat (an 1100 foot decent) and another 1100 decent at the end of the day into Ketura…. Definitely highlights that you will remember for a very long time.
For those of you who like (?) climbing, and I know there is a group that does you may have the opportunity to climb back those last 1100 feet Monday morning depending on the final itinerary. The climb back up to the Negev Plateau from the ARAVA Valley is a memorable event for everyone who is challenged to do it. I think the most intriguing climb back was done by a recently married couple on a tandem; the climb is not for the faint hearted, but is certainly doable, you just have to like climbing.
Thinking about the Maktesh at Mitzpeh Ramon reminds me to say something about our Riding Tour Guides. Bill Slott will certainly dissuade you from ever calling the Maktesh a Crater, it is not. It is a unique geological formation (of which there are very few around the world). Bill does an excellent demonstration of what happened and Hadas Karmon (another guide) does a great demo with an Israeli confection (a Krembo) that sort of looks like a cream filled cupcake that models geology in a strange fashion. Take advantage of the pre-Ride Jerusalem tour, if you have not been here before it is a good overview and if even if you have been before the tour is informative and you get to meet other riders and walk at your own pace.
We are now inside the 100 day mark to the start of the Ride. I hope everyone is slowly increasing their saddle time and distance. Five or six hours a day can stretch into a very long time if you are not prepared and while the SAG bus is always there and available for a pick up and a/c cool down you really came to ride. So get out the sun screen and water bottles and ride; as often and as long as you can (and your significant other and family will allow).
(Sidebar: if you have not done so you should check out web sites for Bike NashBar, Performance Bike, Primal Wear and LongCycle; these places sell all kinds of bike related clothing and equipment. I would not recommend buying bikes or bike components from them if you do not know how to install or assemble. Your local bike shop is where you get your mechanical stuff done; there are all sorts of witty shop owner responses to the question “would you please install my new “fill in the blank” that I purchased on-line?” I will leave the witty replies to your imagination. Clothing prices are usually better than bike shop prices.)
Some things to consider investing in: A good pair of Spandex riding shorts, a pair with a really good chamois (pad); some cheaper shorts have a “felt-like” pad that gets sweaty and starts to feel like a wet diaper… better pads do not. Some riders prefer bib type shorts, I personally do not. Men wearing them for the first time may want to consider Band-Aids for their nipples … yep, you do not want a blister there; it will really be a downer. Some riders (and I am in this category) ride with a tee shirt under their jersey, UnderArmour© or a “technical” cloth that is designed to wick moisture off your skin.
I wrote about hydration and how much water you should be drinking, another thing to consider besides the water you are sweating (and you will sweat in the desert and not realize it because the humidity is so low) is how much salt you are losing in that sweat. If you find that the your spandex riding shorts have white streaks after you ride you are also losing a lot of salt and need to replace that; there are several different electrolyte replacements that can be added to a water bottle to help. I use a product called NUNN©, but there are others and some are marked as being Kosher.
For first time riders Spandex shorts are worn without underwear, you don’t need all the chaffing and discomfort (see my previous comment about Butt Cream) and as long as you don’t get Lululemon spandex everything is fine.
Get a pair of riding gloves, open finger-tips are fine, full gloves tend to be very hot; padded palms also help distribute weight on your hands.
Sunglasses for riding; they curve around and protect your eyes from the side; you don’t want your contact lenses to dry out. If you need corrective lenses to see there are several different companies that make cycling glasses that can have your Rx ground into them or insert lenses that fit inside the sunglasses. Just ask your bike shop owner or optician for recommendation. Nonprescription Riding glasses are also available on line (they don’t need to shop assembled).
And one final link for you to look at:
For Hard Core Riders and people who just want to know…