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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Israel Bike Ride 2010 – Day Two

Posted by rabbiart on October 22, 2010

What a difference a day made!  The sharav went away, the heat wave broke, and the weather for the day two ride was bee-you-ti-ful.  72 miles from Ashkelon to kibbutz mashabei sadeh was – in comparison to day one – just a beautiful walk in the park.   The guest program was expanded to include this location, so Carol and I were able to be in a room together.  The dinner was better than two years earlier.  You would not believe how much water we all drink and how much food we all eat!  Lot’s of calories being expended riding.  I’m riding with a camelback and two water bottles, one of which has energy drink.  New since last time is this really clever invention called frozen water.  I believe it’s called “ice”.  so at each pit or rest stop not only do you get cold water, you get ice to put in with your water.  I’m not sure who added this feature to the ride, but I really would like to thank him or her.

Riding through Ashkelon required navigating traffic and unfortunately for a few people, an oil slick which took down 3 or 4 riders.  good news of going down in an oil slick – no road rash, you simply slide til you stop.  Bad news is you’re riding in an oil stained jersey the remainder of the day.  I was not one of the people who went down.

Notable highlights of day two – some new riding friends.  Inevitably, you find that you keep running into the same handful of people that are riding at relatively the same pace.  In addition to Edna and Fred, now there is Donna and Gary and Rebecca that seem like my new old friends.  Gary rides with white arm and leg covers which he said are the equivalent of SPF 50 protection from the sun.  Donna sounds quite youthful and cheerful, and only when I saw here off her bike with helmet off did I discover that she is also in our age bracket.  I would have guessed her to be twenty years younger.

There are still a few people having medical adventures.  My new old friend Jeff Daitz from Atlanta had a brutal first night intestinally (details omitted here in the interest of not having TMI), tried to ride the second day and couldn’t, but on day three not only rode all day but did the optional off-road segment as well. Glad he is feeling better. Mark (don’t know his last name) was so dehydrated he had to be taken to the hospital for IV fluids, and when they came back to the kibbutz at 4 AM discovered that the gate was locked, and they couldn’t get back in so he could go to his room and sleep. However, the driver figured out how to beat the system and cause the gate to open.  I’m not sure this is generally a good thing, but it was for Mark.

Day 2 is also more-or-less the last day we are in Biblical Israel (the Negev is not really part of Biblical Israel).  The gathering rest stop – right before we ride into the kibbutz – is Golda park.  It is like an oasis with a natural reservoir that has been enhanced to make it more effective in holding water.  This is – according to custom but who can say for sure – where Hagar and Ishmael discovered water after having been banished by Sarah and sent out in the desert, apparently to their death, until HaShem heard their cry and provided water.

Also on day two (I’m out of sequence here) is the breakfast stop at the Nir Am reservoir (part of a system of JNF funded reservoirs) literally on the border of the Gaza strip.  You can look into Gaza from where we had breakfast.  Of course, you would need a good telescope to see much – and you’d have to hint, hint join the ride in two years – but you get a sense of how close towns like Shderot and others are to rockets coming from Gaza.

In the evening, before the mandatory briefing about the next day’s ride (for which the only actionable information is what time to get up and be ready to ride) we had a brief presentation for a resident of Shderot.  He has lived in Shderot for 22 years, and he talked about how, until things got bad after the withdrawal from Gaza, there were friendships between Gaza-ites and Israelis, lots of going back and forth, celebrating together, and having a reasonably normal life. he is part of an organization called “other voices” which is attempting to continue to talk to and work with the ordinary residents of Gaza who like people everywhere, just want to have a life, a home, schools, jobs and raise their children.  The last few years they have only been able to do dialogue by telephone, as it is not possible to get in and out of Gaza.  Over 3,000 residents of the area, who have only 15 seconds to get into a shelter when Kassam rockets are launched at them, have signed a petition calling for ending the blockade of Gaza, allowing unfettered flow of materials in and exports out, in order to help the people of Gaza build a normal society with normal commerce, and reduce rather than increase the fear and loathing on both sides.  Israeli drivers are the craziest I’ve ever seen, but maybe it requires a little bit of good craziness to advocate and work for peace when your house has been hardened, or has a rocket-safe room for you to flee in to.


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