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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Israel Bike Ride – We arrive in Eilat

Posted by rabbiart on October 25, 2010

I’ll have to go back and fill in my recollections for days 3 and 4 of the ride.  Right now I’m sitting on the porch of the Aroma coffee shop in front of the Yam Suf hotel across from the beach in Eilat.  The ride has finished, I survived, I’m happy and relieved, and tomorrow we go to Petra.

For me this day of the ride started out very shaky.  Yesterday – on day 4 – we got to Kibbutz Keturah where the Arava Institute is located.  Unlike a few cute signs in bars that I’ve seen that say “free beer yesterday, free booze tomorrow” there was free beer at the Kibbutz for the riders and staff.  I quickly downed a couple of Goldstars, and as we were walking around on the tour of the experimental solar plant that is under construction, I felt woozy and shaky.  I think i could have been busted for “walking under the influence”.  so maybe that’s why I didn’t feel that great this morning.

I thought maybe I have been eating too much food, so I skipped breakfast.  We were bused up out of the Arava valley to Ne’ot Shmadar to begin the ride.  I was feeling quite wobbly, so I started in the back went slowly, and as a result had a great conversation with Rabbi Steve Wernick, new executive director of USCJ, about his vision for United Synagogue. Once I felt warmed up, I picked up the pace, hoping to work up a sweat and burn off whatever was causing me to feel crappy (intentional choice of words).  But… I just had no legs at all, and didn’t start feeling stronger.  So at the last rest stop before lunch, I bagged it and got on the bus.  Once the bus started moving, I fell asleep and had a nice little nap.  When we got to the lunch stop I was ravenous, wolfed down a big sandwich, ate some other food, and started feeling better.

The ride down into Eilat from the top of Har Hizkiyahu is very, very steep and dangerous. There is about a four mile stretch from har Hizkiyahu where we had lunch, to where the steep descent began.  I decided I would ride that four miles and see how I felt.  I was feeling normal.  So I ended up making the descent, of which I am quite afraid, in my usual downhill method of relying heavily on the brakes.  And I made sure I was at the front of the group (they send us down in pairs at intervals) so I didn’t have to wait around for my turn.  About two thirds of the way down, a rider 3 or 4 groups in front of me had a serious wipe-out and was lying in the rode motionless.  A couple of cars and a couple of riders had already stopped to make sure everyone went slowly around him while waiting for the ambulance that follows us on the ride.  Once we get to the bottom of the big downhill we wait for everyone to arrive and ride from the roundabout where we wait to the hotel at the west end of Eilat.  Apparently he hit a little compression in the road and was launched up in the air, separated from his bike, went head over heels and landed right on his forehead (with his helmet of course).  he was conscious but not moving, has been taken to the hospital and we don’t yet know what his situation is.  That of course dampened everyone’s feelings of exhilaration and celebration that we usually feel at that point in the ride.

This has been – in the history of these rides – the one with the most serious accidents, people getting sick, and of course the 113 degree heat of the first day.

A note about Har Hizkiyahu.  From the top of this mountain you can see Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  You can not only see Egypt, you’re standing right next to the fence that marks the border with Egypt, and you can walk 100 yards to a spot along the fence right under an Egyptian guard tower and yell up and talk to the two soldiers on duty.  One of our security guards (there are two traveling with each group, they carry semi-automatic weapons) told us that mostly the Egyptian guards on these towers are bored and have trouble staying awake.  So when the officers come they have a system of firing off a shot or two into the air to alert the next towers down the line to look sharp because “management” is coming.  It’s a great thing that mostly the border guards are bored and have trouble staying awake.  If only soldiers everywhere had that as their biggest problem!

I am thankful to have made it through the ride with no serious incident of my own; not even a flat tire.

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