by David Eisenberg
With less than four weeks to go before the 2013 Israel Ride, and a near record number of riders doing their first Israel Ride, this is a time when some riders start to wonder, “what have I gotten myself into?” You’re not alone. Having had the good fortune to do several Israel Rides, the message of this post is simple – Relax! And, have fun.
Relaxing will make the ride easier! Cycling, even on the most challenging rides, is easier if you let your body relax. The energy that you use up when you tense up is lost energy. Relax, loosen up, talk with and get to know some of the nearby riders, and the miles (or kilometers), flats, and hills, will fall behind you more quickly than you think. Cycling is very natural, if you relax and go with the flow the entire ride will come to you more easily.
This is the Israel Ride, you don’t need to sweat the details. While the route is new to you, it is not new to the staff and crew of the ride. They have spent over a year planning the 2013 Israel Ride. They have, quite literally, been over every inch of the route. The senior staff, crew, and leadership of the ride have done this before, many times. Kfir, the lead rider, was on the crew of the first Israel Ride, in 2003. He has been on every Israel Ride since. The staff and crew sweat the details. They are amazing! You can relax and go with the flow.
In case you need it, you’re never far from help. There are “pit stops” throughout the route, and shaded rest stops about every 18 – 20 miles. All are stocked with water, snacks, sun screen, and shade. The entire ride is accompanied by a bus, mechanics, lead and sweep riders, an experienced and capable crew, safety/security, etc. Whatever the problem, from a flat tire, need to take a break, or anything else, help is nearby. You’re not alone in the desert.
It is the Israel Ride, you’re here! You’ve nothing to prove. The Israel Ride, like other organized rides, is not the place to learn new cycling skills – whatever your level of cycling, you’ll come home a more experienced rider. That is great! But, there is no need or reason to learn new cycling secrets on the ride – check the ride’s website (www.israelride.com) for cycling safety tips in advance of the ride, and take note of the route and safety briefings on each evening of the ride. Please take the safety tips seriously, as a lot of thought has gone into them and they are for your benefit and that of every other rider on the course. Beyond that, this isn’t a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, it is just a great bike ride in Israel.
Finally, get to know your fellow riders. Like you, they are all here to see Israel by bike and to support the work of two great organizations. You already have something in common! Talk with the riders you meet along the route – you already know that you ride at about the same pace, you’ll make new friends, and, as the conversation unfolds, the ride will disappear behind you.
Find a buddy. In 2005, on the eve of my first Israel Ride, Eve Ben-Ora was sitting next to me at orientation. We had never met before, but we agreed to be “buddies” on the ride. The next day I quickly learned what an incredibly fast rider Eve was, especially on the flats – keeping up with my ‘buddy’ on the ride was not going to happen. But, as agreed, we checked in with each other, at least at the beginning and end of each day. Buddies on the Israel Ride, we have been friends ever since. I am excited that, for the first time, Eve will be back for the 2013 Israel Ride.
For every rider, experienced or brand new, parts of the ride will be challenging. That is wonderful. Take each day in stride and you’ll be surprised by how well it goes and how quickly the days pass. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating on the beach in Eilat, your 2013 Israel Ride behind you. I hope you enjoy the journey — relax, have fun, enjoy an incredible ride, and make new friends along the way. The Israel Ride is only six days. The friends and memories you make along the way will last a lifetime.
I look forward to seeing you in Jerusalem.