by Lester Blumberg
This Israel Ride is a transformative experience. Whatever drives you to join – whether it is your first time in Israel or your umpteenth visit; whether you are a Zionist or an environmentalist; whether you are troubled by the politics of the Middle East, or find inspiration in the hope for peace embodied by the Arava Institute; Jewish, Christian or Muslim; you will return transformed. You will push yourself on climbs, perhaps harder than you ever have before, and will thrill with steep descents. No matter how well you know the Land, nothing compares to the sights, the smell, the sounds, the feel, even the taste of traversing it on your bike. The hills of Jerusalem are inspiring, Makhtesh Ramon is awesome; but for me, there is nothing like riding in the desert. The stark mountains and expanse of barren hills, dotted with scraggly trees and the occasional outpost, it is a closeness, a oneness, with the Land that I have never before experienced and cannot imagine replicating. For some it is a religious experience. No matter your beliefs, it is certainly spiritual.
Make sure you have comfortable clothes. If you can swing it, bring your own bike ( The rentals are fine, but I figured that if I was going to spend so much time in the saddle, I wanted to have my own bike under me.) Wear sun-screen and drink a lot. The food is great – but don’t eat too much of it (my first time, I over did it the first night, and rode the bus most of the second day). Don’t get caught up in being competitive (it’s a Ride not a Race). Find your groove and you will find others to ride with you…but also find some time to ride by yourself. Make some new friends. Get to know the terrific ride staff; they work so hard to make the ride so wonderful.
I blogged during my rides in 2010 and 2012. Feel free to visit (or re-visit) those rides at www.lesterdb.blogspot.com.
I am jealous of those you who are riding in 2013. I hope I will see you when you come back in 2014.