Trading Laptops for Blacktops [Why I Ride]

By Eric Altman, 2012 Cross-USA Rider

Eric Altman rides in the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride

Eric Altman rides in the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride

Like me, I’m certain that your days are completely consumed with its daily tasks.  For some, it is the rewarding yet unremitting job of raising children or caring for a loved one.  For me, my commitment has been to work and being connected to my constant companions of a mobile phone and laptop.

Over the past ten years, I’ve surrounded myself with several entrepreneurial ventures, and while it is exciting working with a talented team of business people, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors who believe in pushing status quo, it has proved to be all consuming.  In the past decade, I have rarely gone more than a couple hours where I haven’t been obsessed with cash flow models or business development and financing strategies. So with all the meetings, conference calls and daily challenges, I looked at my calendar to see when would be an ideal time to unplug, rejuvenate, expand and grow.  Since that ideal window does not exist I’ve decided that there is no time like the present.  Next summer, I am going to dedicate 10 weeks to unplug, challenge my body, and savor the hypnotic cadence of a road bike tour, attempting to achieve the euphoria commonly referred to as runners high, achieved by the release of endorphins during long, continuous workouts. I’m going to have the opportunity to participate in a community with other riders and individuals who are also interested in that journey.

In addition to having an extended opportunity to unplug and rejuvenate, the bonus for being able to do the ride with a wonderful organization like Hazon is that they incorporate the principles of learning, educating, exploring, and serving.  Since I started participating in Hazon events such as the Food Conference and the Israel Ride, in support of the Arava Institute, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and think about interesting food-related issues.  Previous to my involvement with Hazon, I assumed it was sufficient to rely on government and Jewish institutions to guide me on what I could and should consume to fuel my body.  However, once exposed to the issues, I realized it was my responsibility to learn and be more active if I want these institutions to reflect principles that are consistent with things that are important to me, namely the pursuit of justice (tzedek) and making the world a better place (tikkun olam).

While there is a richness of topics—from getting people connected to the land and our food supply to how do we overcome the food deserts that in many of our nations communities that are devoid of access to fresh fruits and vegetables—it is food policy issues are more of my focus.  For example, did you know that our government (with public tax payer money) subsidizes the fast food industry, soda, candy and other foods that lead to health issues such as hypertension and diabetes?  Or did you know it is not sufficient to make sure that food certified kosher and in compliance with Jewish dietary law if it is important to you to consume items that don’t employ slave or exploited labor (e.g. coffee and chocolate industries)?

So I am riding across the USA because I want to take an opportunity to unplug and rejuvenate, and I am riding with Hazon because it is an opportunity to learn, educate, explore, and serve with the ultimate goal of taking some fresh ideas and perspectives back to my work and interests.

Explore what you can achieve physically, mentally, and spiritually from joining me on a segment or the entire ride. If riding is not your thing, get involved in a community garden or by becoming more aware of the food issues that face your family and community.

Learn more about the Cross-USA Ride and  support Eric and other riders.


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