Saturday, November 7, 2009

We're in the Desert Now! (day 3 of the Israel Ride)

We awoke to Day 3 in a very different setting then the Mediterranean Sea, where we ended Day 2. To allow this year's ride to cover both the north and the south of Israel, we were bussed last night from Ceaserea to Kibbutz Mashabim, in the Negev Desert. Today, we began our ride through the desert.

Today's route was the shortest of the ride, allowing us to take time out for 10 miles of mountain biking in the valley behind Sde Boker, the Kibbutz where David Ben Gurion is buried, and still make the roughly 30 mile climb (mostly) to Mitzpeh Ramon. The route was as beautiful as the hills were long!

Some special moments along the route:

1. I'm still really enjoying the granny gear. For my next Israel Ride, I'd like to be 20 lbs lighter. If I don't make that, however, it is great to know that the granny will be there for me!

2. The mountain bike ride from Sde Boker is amazing, everyone should do it at least once! About 4.5 miles into the desert, we came to a natural desert spring where many of the riders took a swimming break in the 6 meter deep pool of (i'm told) ice cold, fresh water -- wonderfully refreshing as the temps in the valley felt like they were in the 90's, at least. It was hot!

3. It is day 3, we are getting to know each other better. This is one of the reasons why it is so much fun to do the Israel Ride, again and again. In addition to the route, which is fantastic, and the riding, there are the people. The riders are from all (okay, most) walks of life, whose common bond is that they care about Israel. What a wonderful foundation to start new friendships from! Having done the ride before, it is now a special reunion with old friends, and a chance to make new ones.

Connections -- one thing we learn here is how small the world is! Yesterday, while riding towards the coast, we passed another biker heading the other way. He turned around, chased us down, and suddenly was in conversation with one of our Israel Riders, who came from Australia (a 30 hour flight) to do the ride. Turns out that they were relatives who had not seen each decades. Closer to home, one of the younger riders that I've met on this trip is Oren Hirsch - I'd never met Oren before this week, but I got an e-mail the day before the trip from my elementary school classmate, Danny Hirsch, telling me that he just realized that I would be doing the ride with Oren, Danny's son! Turns out that Oren had also learned about the connection just before the ride, when he was talking one of his classmates in Jerusalem, and she told him that I'd be on the ride. How did she make the connection -- she is my Rabbi's daughter. And then there was the young rider that I met at lunch one day, only to learn that he was, coincidentally, good friends with the daughter of a friend that I made on an earlier Israel Ride. The list, and the connections, go on. It's a small world.

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