Monday, 2 March 2009

Day 16: Shacharut to Eilat

This is my final end to end Blog - Mission Accomplished ! The Israel Bike Trail has been ridden and conquered.

At 15.30,1st March 2009, I dipped my wheels in the gently lapping waters of The Gulf of Aqaba. It is 16 riding days, 982 kms, and innumerable revolutions, since they were dipped in the snow of Mount Hermon.

I actually completed the trek one day ahead of schedule as the planned route over the Eilat Mountains from Shacharut had to be changed due to the severe weather conditions and the possibility of flash flooding.The length of the revised route,meant Eilat was attainable in one riding day.

We had spent an uncomfortable cold night in the Shacharut Khan tent.The rain pounding, the flapping of the awnings, and the local cats howling under our common shelter. We set off in full winter gear, the wind factor reducing temperatures to near zero.

Ariye and I descended Ma'ale Shacharut , steep but mostly rideable,with an amazing view of the Arava under a threatening blanket of black clouds. Thankfully though, the weather held out, and actually improved, with little wind, but occasional spots of rain. I thought, what were the chances of rain at the start and finish of the end to end !

The Grand Finale, was following the IBT into the Eilat Mountains,trails that climb and wind around rocks of yellow, red, purple. The designers of the trail ensured that it will fittingly lead straight to the sea along the dried river bed of Nahal Netifim, although the Eilat Municipality has to clean it up before it is open to the general public.

Ariye had mysteriously found a large Israel flag in one of the drainage tunnels, was it by chance or had it been planted? I will never know, but it made it , the last few metres, to the sea shore as well.

The Israel Bike Trail can be and will be ridden in the future by countless cyclists and all, like myself, will find it a challenge, a unique way to absorb all the physical elements of the country, and a life affirming experience.

Thanks to all who helped me fulfil my ambition to ride the end to end,those who rode with me, your companionship was deeply appreciated; my daughters, their partners, other friends, for all their support, those who gave me shelter from the storm, and of course Yvonne, who was compliant to my dream beyond the call of marital duty, and who faithfully uploaded my postings sent from my trusty Ipod.

Oh yes, all prohibitions against the p-word, are now lifted.

Ride Stats:
Distance 63kms
Final Total 982 kms
Duration 7 hours
Agg Climbs 496 metres
Max gradient 39% (elevator in Eilat hotel?)
Max Rideable Descent -14% (Ma'ale Shacharut)
Temp Range 9C - 22C
0 punctures
Overall Enjoyment Factor : 982 k's

Written on an Egged Bus from Eilat to Haifa , 2nd March 2009.

Long. Live. Long. Rides !

Sent from my iPod

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Day 15: Paran to Shacharut

I am writing this from the Beduin tent in Shacharut. On arrival, I guess from
my ashen pallor, I was immediately offered a sweet cup of tea which revived me somewhat. It had been a tough day in the saddle.

It was a ride divided between trail and road, but with a common factor afflicting both, gale strength winds. If we had sails we could have done the ride in a couple of hours ! Unfortunately, it was Blowing in from the direction we were heading, Idiot Wind, no matter which way we turned (apologies to Bob Dylan).

I was reduced to counting the kilometres to each waypoint, no matter if it was in the great empty expanse of Nahal Paran (25km of unending gravel) or the ribbon of highway heading south, I could not muster, on average, more than 10kph.

Frustration reigned ! On eventually emerging on to the Mitspe Ramon road from Nahal Zichor, we collapsed next to a signpost to take on some energy supplies. Afer a few minutes I caught sight from my prone position the unmistakable sight of a peloton of racing cyclists, who passed us with a whish and a wave. How I wished I was on one of their light bikes with the wind on my back.

As a postscript, the next day we met by chance an organizer of the Eilat Ironman competition, who told us that many of the competitors had been blown off their bikes and injured in the strong wind. Lucky your Ironman Blogger was on his heavy mountain bike.

Ride Stats:
Distance 74kms
Total Distance 919kms
Duration 8.5 hours
Agg Climbs 668 metres
Max Gradient 22%
Av Temp 20C (wind chill factor 14C ?)
0 punctures
1 bent dérailleur (Ariye)