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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Israel Bike Ride 2010 – It’s Hot on day one

Posted by rabbiart on October 22, 2010

For a country with so much high tech, it has been surprisingly difficult to get a good internet connection, even at outrageous hotel prices.  So I’m behind in blogging the ride.

Carol and I have been blessed throughout our marriage in that we almost always see things the same way.  My brother Shep in some conversation, as we were answering some questions of his and blurting out identical answers, even once asked “do you guys rehearse these answers”?

When we got to Israel we were both thinking that this would be the last time we would do the Israel ride.  By the first day of the ride we discovered we had each changed our thinking to ‘let’s do this again in two years’.

The first day of the ride – October 20 – was the hottest day in October in the entire history of Israel – 113 degrees Fahrenheit.  This was due to unseasonably hot weather plus a sharav which is a hot, hot, hot, hot wind.  After obtaining permits for the route six months in advance, the organizers were informed only a day before that the police had changed policy and a significant part of the day one route could not be used.  Things happen for a reason.  This cut the intended route from 70 miles to some 45 miles (figures not exact).  We rode the downhill leg out of Jerusalem for 7.5 miles, stopped, were bused to breakfast, and then bused to where we continued riding.  This cut out a big climb out of the valley outside Jerusalem.  By nine am we were riding in a furnace.  A lot of the details are fuzzy for me, but after a couple of pit stops/rest stops I had ridden some 20 miles, and although it was hot, and I couldn’t train for four weeks before the ride, I was doing OK.

On a reasonably gentle climb, I went from feeling OK to “I must get off this bicycle right now or I will have heat stroke, and if  I have to simply wait to be picked up that could be dangerous.”  This was in five minutes tops.  Fortunately, I was right behind a lead rider who called for my bike and me to be picked up.  I don’t remember waiting at all before two vehicles pulled up behind us.  I went to get in a van to discover all seats were full with riders who had also been sensible and stopped riding.  I ended up in the staff van being driven by one of the Arava alums, along with another alum (Devira and Timna), with two of our security guides in the back seat.  They made room for me up front where I could have the AC pouring cold air on me, and after about 20 minutes of sitting and sipping water, I was able to eat some salty foods.

As a result I got to have a very nice conversation with Devira and Timna about the Arava, what they are doing now, family history and so on.  I think we solved all the problems of the middle east as well.  Timna said her father’s solution is that most of the cultivation in the west bank should be devoted to the ‘evil weed’ and it should be legal to smoke it there.  Then everyone would mellow out and the violence would fade away.  The conversation was so comfortable that at one point the two young women got on to the subject of Israeli men and commented – about one of the Arava staffers – that he was really handsome, but immature.  Their general observation, the Israeli men that are charming are also childish and not in a good way.  (This was cracking me up).

There are always three riding groups, and one group rides in the morning and does a tour in the afternoon.  I was thinking that I would join the tour in the afternoon in order not to ride any more on day one, in order to be better equipped to ride the full 72 miles on day two.  At lunch they announced an option to be bused directly to the hotel in Ashkelon, which is on the beach and has a nice outdoor pool.  Guess which option I chose.  Done guessing?  You’re right. On the bus, to the hotel, with Carol following immediately behind in her rental car (more rental car adventures coming later).  To our delight we discovered our room was ready.  Up for a shower, then down for a dip in the pool, and pretty soon I was feeling decent, although I definitely had the strong sensation of my brain being fried.

During dinner our friend Edna Granot from Melbourne came up behind me and started massaging the top of my shoulders and asking me how I was feeling.  When I mentioned that my lower back was aching she offered to work on that area (she’s a certified massage therapist). So we took some oil from the buffet in a glass up to our room and Edna came and gave me a massage on the troubled area, which then felt a lot better.

One sad note; a couple of riders wiped out on the big downhill in the morning, and one broke both wrists, one of which required an operation, and she’s flying home on Sunday.

One inspirational note; a woman in our age bracket (maybe older) who has bone cancer, is doing the ride in a three wheeled recumbent bike.  When she isn’t riding she needs a cane to walk!  So my tooth extraction adventure just seems like such an incredibly trivial thing, and I have a renewed sense of gratitude for my generally good health, especially from the neck down.  OK, I don’t like having to wear glasses all the time, and I’ve lost a bit of hearing, and I have a missing front tooth, but nothing worth complaining about at all.

It seems to me that whenever I focus too much on my own PLIP (petty little insignificant problems), HaShem places someone in front of me so that I am reminded how truly blessed and fortunate my life is.

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