Day 0: Shake out – Jerusalem Bike Paths and new Bike Tunnel
Israel Ride Day 0 shake out – Jerusalem Bike Paths and new Bike Tunnel
Today was the shake-out ride when we check out gear and tune up the bikes. Riding in Jerusalem with all the traffic is virtually impossible. So our route today is entirely bike paths and sidewalks. There is a new tunnel that was created from a water tunnel that only bikes can use. Very cool to ride a mile through it.
The ride was an out and back. It was also Election Day and a national holiday so there were tons of families out enjoying the parks and we did have to ride through the mess at times.
Great start for the week!
Day 1: Outskirts of Jerusalem to Outskirts of Ashdod, Moshavim and agriculture
Today we departed on day 1 of the ride. Today is twice as much downhill as uphill as we descend to the coast. Jerusalem is too difficult to bike through so we were bussed to the outskirts where we departed. We had a big downhill through the mountains and then spend the middle third of the ride riding through agricultural sections (grapes, figs, orchards, olives, and many plowed fields waiting for the next crop.
These areas are part of a series of Moshavs which are a community built around a particular industry. This is different than a kibbutz which may have a single focus on a specific industry but with communal living,
Towards the flat section at the end, I flatted and the support was fantastic with the sweep car and riding belong out.
We ended the day at Negba kibbutz, one of about twenty kibbutzim that were built before the independence of Israel. If a kibbutz could be pre-assembled and built in a day before sunset the British would let it stand. Negba also has a military cemetery that commemorates their ability to hold off the Egyptian army’s attack in 1948.
We then had a bus ride to Ashdod where we spend the night, Ashdod is an industrial city with a huge port. Many Russian Jews emigrated here. Tomorrow we are off to the northern Negev.
Day 2: Ashdod to Northern Negev
Today was one of these transition rides where you move from one geographical area to another. We rode in the continuing agricultural area into the beginnings of the Negev. On the way, we passed a memorial to paratroopers that served as a great view of the Gaza Strip. Very striking to see it in person,
We then rode through an increasingly remote area (that actually housed lots of military training grounds and assets). I would liken the northern Negev to a cross between the Mojave desert and Death Valley.
We rode as a group and we had lots of rules about passing and calling out obstacles etc. we stayed tonight at a kibbutz (don’t get excited) that had a “country-style living” hotel. Very basic but fits the bill while we recover. Tomorrow we go to the Negev Highlands (translated as we do a lot of climbing tomorrow with less mileage).
Day 3: Mashabei Sadeh to Mitzpe Ramon (top of the Negev)
Today we rode right to the center and one of the highest points of the Negev. We stopped at Ben-Gurion’s grave with a fantastic view.
The climbing was moderate but with long 2-4% grades with occasional 7% pitches. Normally this would be a piece of cake but with my rental bike the gearing is so 2010 and I am focusing on enjoyable riding versus pushing watts with low cadence.
The police in this part of the Negev wanted a full-blown escort including about 5 cars and two motorcycles. Very TDF. You might wonder how we “take care of business” in the desert with no facilities. They have a tent-type potty set up, but boys will be boys.
The end of our ride felt like a summit finish up to the hotel with cheering crowds, tomorrow is a rest day for Shabbat and you might see some yoga and walks on Strava.
Day off of Riding: Shabbat at Mitzpe Ramon, a great day of relaxing and exploring the area followed by Havdalah at sunset
Day 4: Mitzpe Ramon to Kibbutz Ketura
Today we had multiple huge descents (5000ft total)as well as almost 3000 ft climbing. We went through the most inhospitable sections of the Negev.
We ended on the main road to Eilat at an area that has multiple kibbutzim of major note.
The ride today was easier than I thought it would be (legs are tuned up
And we had a rest day yesterday).
The scenery was closest to death valley that I have seen. Thankfully Kibbutx Ketura where our afternoon activities are centered sold beer including a decent IPA. Tonight the riders split up amount 4 different Kibbutz guest houses.
I am looking forward to the final day tomorrow and the flight back to Tel Aviv and Marci.
Day 5: Hello Eilat
Today we got bussed back to the main intersection above the Arava Valley, we then did a steady long climb back up to 2800 ft. We angled toward the Egyptian Border which was very cool to see the fences and the fortification. We even bumped into some self-propelled howitzers.
After a long lunch break under a big tent, we did group photos by geography. We then climbed a bit more and began our long and steep descent into Eilat. We were not able to stop and take pictures, however, the ride took over 20000 pics and in a later post I will post the best of from the ride.
As I was flying out this night to rejoin Marci in Tel Aviv and I managed to move my butt to get my bike parts off the rental, find my luggage, do a quick street clothes change and get to the new Eilat airport and get on an earlier flight. It all worked out.
Tel Aviv at 7pm was a crazy mess of people and cars, very much like NYC. My cab ride to the hotel was longer than the flight from Eilat.