Friday, 27 February 2009

Day 13: Mitspe Ramon to Tsofar

My end to end trek is based on the general route that will be taken by the Israel Bike Trail. Amongst the geographical challenges that will be presented to the cyclist on the trail will be to climb in and out of the Arava three times. Taking a route in one direction, straight down the Arava, might have been more logical (and saner) but that wouldn't give the rider a true impression of the country.

Today's section was a ride back down to the Arava, an overall height drop of over 800 metres, via the Ramon Crater, Wadi Nekorot, and the (Nabatean) Spice Route.

We again were three, which subtly changed the dynamic of the riding, mostly for the better. For example, we could see who was taking a more rideable direction in areas of difficult passage.

The road descent into the crater is truly one of the great cycling experiences. Eight kilometres of fast freewheel, chilling to the bone in the early morning.
Things got tough in the Nekorot Valley where overuse by 4x4s has created a vast expanse of fine gravel for most of its length. This was hardly rideable and if terrain untouched by the evil jeep wheels could not be located, we were reduced to pushing the bikes. This went on for about 20kms, in the heat, reducing us to frustrated panting specimens, arms aching from the efforts.

As things do in cycling, as soon as we extricated ourselves from this vale of tears, and reached the Spice Route, we were rewarded with fast flowing trails over the highlands, with amazing views to the Arava.

So again, in cycling, as in life you've got to take the rough with the smooth, and it all evens out, eventually.

As a postscript, you can see I had my first puncture on this ride. Not bad going after 800 kms, evidence enough that Slime (self-sealing inner tubes) are one of the greatest achievements of mankind!

Ride Stats:
Distance 56kms
Total 808kms
Duration 7.5 hours
Agg Climbs 255 metres
Height Differential 840 metres
Max Gradient 13%
Max Temp 32C
1 puncture (0k, you at the back,
own up, who said the p-word ?)

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