Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Hill/Climb that Had my Number

Tomorrow is the fourth day of riding on the 2014 Israel Ride.  The first three days (about 170 miles, for my group), and a very relaxing Shabbat at Mitzpe Ramon (above), are behind us.

But, the hill that "had my number" came on day three, the first climb after lunch.  It isn't the longest hill (about nine miles) on the ride, or the steepest.  But, it is a tough one.  It runs from Sde Boker to a less known local landmark, the Naftali prison.  And, for the past three years, it's "had my number", I've avoided it.  In 2011, while I hadn't been diagnosed yet, I knew that I was sick, and I opted to take the bus halfway up the hill.  Yes, I had good reason, but mostly it was the hill.  The next two years, 2012 and 2013, I opted for the Shomrim riding group on Friday.  Their route substitutes a beautiful desert hike for "the hill".  I liked the hike (and would recommended it to anyone -- it is beautiful), but I knew the truth.  I was avoiding the hill.

Day three of the 2014 Israel Ride included a new route for the Tzofim riders (the group that I mostly ride with).  We started in Yerocham, rode "rolling hills" about 15 - 16 miles to Golda Meir Park, and then another 15 or so to Sde Boker, David Ben Gurion's kibbutz.  The second leg includes a long, beautiful climb, and then couple of smaller descents into the valley where Sde Boker is located.  It is a beautiful ride.  From there, the next leg of the ride was "the hill".  Or, taking in the hike at Sde Boker.

At the Israel Ride's Rest Stop at Golda Meir Park, a JNF Park
I decided, it was time to meet the hill again.  I suggested that Benji go ahead, and anticipate that I'd arrive at the next rest stop with the SAG vehicle.  And off we went!  First one mile, then the next.  At one point, before the steepest part of the climb, a shepherd was bringing his flock of sheep across the road (this is the Israel Ride!).  I slowed up, not wanting to stop, not wanting to get the crossing before they were done.  Then, it was a pedal stroke at a time, finding a new groove.  Finally, I saw a break ahead in the wall of the hill.   Never has a prison looked so good!   The rest stop, and the peak of the hill, was less than a mile away!

From the rest stop, "the hill" behind us, we pedaled the rest of the route, including several smaller climbs, to Shabbat at Mitzpe Ramon.  

Every ride has it's challenges.  For me, despite whatever other challenges I've been able to face these past few years, this hill had my number.  I'd climbed steeper ones, and longer ones, but couldn't face this one.   This year I faced it...and left it behind.  The hill HAD my number, it doesn't anymore! 

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The 2014 Israel Ride -- Number 9, A Community on Wheels

Registration and orientation are over, the bikes are assembled and ready to go, Benji and I are ready, and the 2014 Israel Ride leaves Jerusalem at sunrise tomorrow.   This year's ride is the largest since 2007, with 165 riders and a crew of almost 50 people.   For the next six days, on routes from 150 to almost 400 miles, we are a community on wheels.  There will be quiet times, cycling through the Negev.  And, there will be our own challenges with the demands of the ride.   But, we will never be alone.

For me, that community starts with Benji, my 2nd oldest son, who is riding with me this year.  While he is a veteran of many PMC rides, this will be his longest ride, and, for sure, the longest time that we've spent together without the rest of the family.  For me, that is very exciting!   I look forward to the time with him, and to sharing the Israel Ride with him.

We are also honored by the support that we've received from friends and family.  Between the JNF Guardian of Israel event in September, which will ultimately benefit the Arava Institute, and the direct donations to the Israel Ride, we have received donations from almost 150 friends and family.   Each donor is on honored on a flag that will ride with us from Jerusalem to Eilat.  We will never be alone!

I hope to post more from the road, and share some of the excitement and good fortune of having the opportunity to participate, with Benji, in the 2014 Israel Ride.  

For now, this brief note is just to acknowledge the moment, and thank everyone who has supported and encouraged our participation in this ride and the good work that it supports.  I hope that each of our supporters can one day personally participate in the Israel Ride.   In the mean time, you are each part of the 2014 Israel Ride.