This morning I was one of seventeen riders who decided to ignore the weather forecast and face the elements. We set out westward along Ahuza Street and turned into the fields opposite Ra'anana Park. We continued along the route carved out in preparation for Road 531, through Moshav Rishpon, across the Coastal Road footbridge, and over the railway line.
We then headed north, passing fields in which enormous pumpkins were preparing for Halloween. There was some discussion about how we could take one with us - balance it on the handle-bars or magic it into a carriage perhaps - but luckily nobody gave it a try. We continued through the Sculpture Park and into Kibbutz Shfayim, which boasts separate human and canine guest houses and a water park where all guests meet up (after a hearty breakfast).
Leaving Shfayim, we gingerly opened the gate leading into the Sharon Nature Reserve, and tiptyred through (tiptyring is tiptoeing on wheels). This was because, as John warned us, straying from the marked route within the reserve could land us a fine. Luckily the warden and his dog were breakfasting at Shfayim, and we anyway adhered to the designated path, and so passed through without incident.
We continued north towards Kibbutz Ga'ash, the Mediterranean ever glimmering to our left. At Ga'ash we circled a soggy golf course, and just as I was thinking about how it had luckily not started raining again, it did. There were actually two downpours in the course of the ride, and so Barbara asked if we were entitled to a discount. David told us not to worry - the price would be watered down accordingly. As it so happens, the rest of us were "watered down" too, but dried quickly and were not particularly inconvenienced by it.
There are actually distinct advantages to riding in the rain. Firstly it keeps you wonderfully cool. Secondly, the footpath over the Coastal Road - that also serves a horse population - has never looked so clean. The disadvantage of rain is of course the mud, which sticks to your wheels and hurls itself in all directions as you ride, sometimes ending up inside your clothes. There were several sandy patches too, which presented the usual challenges. After an especially tricky one, we announced that we finally saw the light at the tunnel, to which David responded that he could not see a tunnel. But, as Barbara explained, you cannot see a tunnel while you are inside it.
After Ga'ash we crossed back over the Coastal Road, and headed East. We stopped outside Café Bueno for a few minutes, greeting Avi and Nirit whom we met there, and then it was onto Kibbutz Yakum. We rode along one of my favorite singles, which led us down a rocky descent and along a ledge over the Poleg River. We continued through a patch of exotic bamboo trees (with branches that unfortunately seemed intent on attacking us), and then south towards the Europark complex. From Europark we cycled through orchards to the railway line. We continued south along the railway line, over the level crossing, and through more fields and orchards until we reached the coffee shop at Ra'anana Park. There David guided a few lost riders back to the fold by phone, and we all enjoyed a well-earned snack.
To summarize, it was an exhilarating 29-kilometer ride against a dramatic landscape of dark clouds, quiet villages, and lush nature.
At 7.30 on a fine autumn morning, we assembled just east of the Beit Lid junction and awaited David - Our Fearless and Illustrious Leader. The Cyclenix Motorcade then set off and after a short while entered the gates of Moshav Burgata.
Shortly after parking next to the miniscule shopping center, all 17 riders were ready and raring to go. The morning was autumnal fine with just a little nip in the air (no connection to the pre-Pearl Harbour weather forecast!) and promised a fine sunny day. The asphalt road of the moshav soon gave way to a gravel path and the Cyclenix Flying Column was on its way!
There is nothing like a good cycle ride to clear away the cobwebs and disperse all the week's worries and very quickly the route and the good company did the trick. From the moshav the gravel road ran along the river bank and we occasionally alternated sides via bridges and a causeway. The river being stagnant after the dry summer was mostly covered in a carpet of green algae which made a pleasant contrast to the brown of the open fields. Bushes and bamboo hedges soon gave way to fields of cotton, dry and empty after being picked. After going under a few motorway bridges, we entered the Nahal Alexander Park, went down and up a grassy slope and continued along the concrete path to the wooden bridge and vantage point where it is possible to see the renowned turtle population. I personally feel much admiration for these creatures who manage to survive in the rather murky and unpleasant looking waters. At least on Saturday, their tedium is broken by being able to gaze upon all the humans gawping at them!
Our intrepid band did not tarry, avoided the temptations of buying ice creams at the overpriced refreshment vans stationed there and pressed on towards the strand. After a short while, we came to the beach, managed to cycle across the moist sand and sat down for a well-deserved break near the water to enjoy the sea air, admire the view and to munch all our goodies that had been brought from home. Adventurous Ingrid and Undaunted Michal, not being stick in the muds like the rest of us, went for a dip in the sea, Ingrid emerging from the water like Botticelli's Venus arising from the foam.
All too soon the break was over and we wended our way homewards. On the way back, as is the custom, we imbibed a bit of culture, pushing our bikes up a steep hill to admire the ruins of an old custom house. The park itself was now quite full with mainly young couples picnicking or strolling and it was great to see lots of small children taking their first steps in the world of two wheels: on push bikes or riding with trainer wheels.
All too soon, we left the park and returned on the same route. It now being well past 11 o'clock, it started to become quite hot. With a stop or two to rest, to let the slower ones catch up and to fix a puncture we returned to the car park at noon. Most went home and some of the more sociable souls congregated at a nearby café for the post ride cup of coffee.
The ride was quintessential Cyclenix: good company, the joy of riding a bike, a pleasant route, consideration for others and good route planning and leadership. May there be many more for us all!
(With Apologies to William Wordsworth)
(the first two verses of "I wandered loney as a cloud")
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er the Sharon
When all at once I saw a crowd
A group of happy cyclists
Beside the river, beneath the trees
Whizzing and pedaling in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle in the milky way,
They stretched in a never-ending line
Along the sandy paths;
Twenty I saw at a glance
Helmets on their heads in a puffing dance
Yes, twenty of us gathered to set off on our familiar route, enjoying the cloud cover and slightly cooler weather. We covered a good 33 km led by David who is fresh back from cycling with Gabi and co. along the mighty Danube. Yochi joined us after a long absence - we hope that Anna will convince you to come more often...Megan was sporting a natty plait - maybe the fashion will catch on with others in the group with longer hair! Agam offered a welcome refreshment stop - a lovely ride and, as always, in good company.
Only Ten of us showed up at 7 at the Ayalon mall, the poor turnout could only be attributed to the over indulgence at the many holiday meals, like the mantra goes "they tried to kill us in the holy - days, let's eat!"
The first (of two) eventful incidents happened after 30 minutes of Michal snapping away with her Canon SLR. "Oops" she said "I do not have a memory card" so the pulitzer prize winning shots were forever lost to human kind. I could not help but remark that if she was using a Nikon this would not have happened.
Since being ten years old, I have not had as much practice dodging people, bikes, prams, runners, walkers, most of whom have no idea that in Israel we drive on the right hand side of the road. We crossed over the border to Bat Yam , a paradise for the Israeli national sport of "matkot" and stopped to breathe in the sea air.
On the way back through Jaffa we stopped at a nice coffee shop near the clock tower for breakfast.
Heading back on the "bike only path" the second incident happened where a kid with no road sense riding on the wrong side of the path and crisscrossing over, hit Yvette. Luckily Yvette was okay and sustained only a bruised finger.
For us having just returned from the UK this was a "welcome back to Israel" ride.
At 7am 12 riders met at our usual starting point. The skies were slightly overcast, and it was not too hot... in fact almost perfect weather for biking. Our numbers were slightly depleted as a few of our regulars were cycling along the Danube on what has now become an annual excursion organized by Gaby. As we were about to start I received greetings for us all from David and Ingride (two of our absent members) from the banks of the Danube. Thank you and we all hope that you're having a great time.
As David (our usual pathfinder, was away Ted planned the route and while the cat was away he made a few subtle changes!!!
It was great to have Avi Tsabban back with us after his recent foot surgery and Nirit. Hope to see the TWO of you regularly in the future.
What was very noticeable ( and has been for some time) is the progress being made on the highway being built in our area. Progress in one field amounts to regression in another. Many pardessim (orchards ) and agricultural fields have disappeared. L I suppose that that's the price one has to pay to progress, but nevertheless for us off-road bikers is sad to see some of our regular routes no longer exist.
The route itself was not all that different from our usual Ra'anana, Batzra, Bene Tzion, Udim, Yaqum, Rishpon route and eventually we made it to Central Café without any mishaps and not one puncture. That's a good way to start the year!!!! Total distance covered 26 kms.
I just love the Elishema "away ride". Not just for its natural beauty, but also because, for many riders, the starting point is just a 10 to 15 minute drive away, allowing the alarm clock to rest for at least an extra hour compared to the traditional away rides in the north. This ride always reminds me that there are so many wonderful places to see so close to home, and how the "masses", who are often "Saturday programmed" to either getting up late, or going to a shopping mall, coffee shop or even the same beach, miss out on so much. Get a bicycle, get a life!
And it's not just my opinion. 27 riders either convinced their partners, brought their partners or dumped their partners, especially so that they could turn up at the entrance to Moshav Elishema for 7am (or 7:05am, or 7:10am ... ).
Led by David and his trusty GPS, we setoff from Elishema (just south east of Kfar Saba) on a 35.68km counter-clockwise ride (sounds more impressive than 35km, and 36km would be exaggerating) that took us through nature reserves, touched on the Israel National Trail (Shviyl Yisrael), Einat, Elishema, much more, and "home".
Just 10 minutes into the ride, before we'd gone fully off road, still as a full group (wait for it!), we rode past a couple of families, playing at enjoying themselves, but probably waiting for Shivat Kochaviym to open. We certainly looked impressive and powerful, as a never ending line of enthusiastic smiles rode past them. Did they make a mental note to check bike prices on Sunday?
Yet the group of 27 didn't remain as 27; thankfully, not because of any undesirable drama.
On the contrary, we arrived at a small river (big stream?) and the route took us across it. About half were prepared to ride it, (everyone who tried, made it, albeit some with wetter, cleaner shoes), whereas the other half weren't. Perhaps some remembered reading about the seas parting "not too far from here" a few thousand years ago, but seems doesn't work for cyclists. So, with a now huge, gushing river (smallish stream) dividing us, our one big group became two.
On the same theme of "splitting up", our group, the "ocean crossers", was riding through dry aqueducts, with high sides. At on point, the easiest, fastest (and most macho) way to get from one side to the other was to ride down the steep side, across the bottom, and ride up the other steep side, carried by both momentum and pedal power. Once again, our subgroup split up into those who would and those who wouldn't. And before you think I'm judging, or criticizing, I am not!. Even though many had probably promised their partners that a condition of riding was to return home "in one piece", I can't help thinking that the reluctance to ride the water, or ride the aqueduct was simply because so many cyclists don't realise the capabilities of their bicycles and of themselves, and together with a little technical knowledge (when to sit back, when to sit forwards, when to fall and pretend not hurt), could rapidly take on new challenges, and do so safely, thereby enhancing the experience, photos, and real, accurate stories to tell the partner on return. ("... and after that, we rode through a sea where the crashing waves were at least 10 meters high".). I humbly suggest we invite an external, professional, bike teacher, to offer a "crash course" (not good wording, Stuart) Cyclenix cycling lesson, one Saturday, (or whenever), to help so many have so much more fun.
Lots of fresh air, smiles, a nice refreshment break in a cafe near Einat, a few wet shoes, 1 or 2 uneventful punctures, and home before lunch. Thanks to David for always preparing his GPS and leading us, so we don't need to even think where were going!
A large group of us set off on a fine and not too hot morning towards the port and beach of Herzliya. The building of Kvish 531 has meant a lot of our regular routes are no more. But the road that we take now instead is one of the bonuses of all the digging. So, we meandered along without mishap, crossing into the Herzliya park where we managed to anger some runners by riding on their path to get to the obstacle course. We completed the course (well, some of us did, while others looked on) and then went on towards Herzliya, crossing over the bridge at Cinema City. The gallant gentelmen carried some ladies' bikes up - now nice that the age of chivalry is not completely dead...
On to the Herzliya port and beach. It was still early, so some went out on the breakwater while a few of us waited in the shade - the temperature steadily rising. Merrill and I zoomed off home along the Thursday night route and through the fields next to Gan Rachel. I heard rumours that some were actually going to swim... So, what happened next - I cannot say. But I can say that it was a good ride with NO SAND (whopppeee) of around 30 km. To all our cyclenix riders:
Thank you to everyone who spends many hours of their time organizing the routes and making sure that we have a good time!
Sea, sun and sand are the ingredients of a million$ holiday, aren't they? Well, 14 of us gathered at Hof HaCarmel to enjoy a 23-and-a-bit km of just that: sea, sun and sand. Luckily, the latter wasn't too off-putting and some of the sandy parts were with the water lapping at our wheels.
We cycled southwards from Ein Hacarmel through Habonim, Ein Ayala to Nachsholim. We then cycled north along the beach joining a cliff path around Habonim. The views were marvellous and the sea breeze making the searing sun seem less hot. The sand was white and the sea was sparkling.
Our ride went smoothly - no mishaps except for what seemed like a puncture for Yvette. But Stuart (the 29er) to the rescue - he ably pumped up her tyre and that was that!
The bathing belles took to the water (as well at a beau or two) - we provided a good entertainment for the sunworshippers already ensconced for the day. Ted gave us some historical content of the area along the way - so the little grey cells were engaged as well as our muscles....
Oops! I nearly forgot another of the highlights of our ride. We visited the airstrip where the skydivers take off and land and were just in time to see a planeload of single and double landings. A real treat!
We stopped off at the Mall Zichron Aroma for refueling. A lovely ride, led by David with good company!
The hot weather didn't seem to put off anyone from coming on the ride this Shabbat.
A group of 19 started out just after seven on the familiar route northwards out of Raanana towards the industrial area and through the orange groves of Batzra to Bnei Zion. Up the hills and out to the nature reserve we turned eastwards up and down the hill,through the sand and then north where we once again went off road through the fields and finally reaching the railway bridge at Tel Itzhak.
From here we turned southwards along the side of the railway lines doubling back on ourselves. Turning westwards we headed on towards Yakum and out by Cafe Bono.
Up and over the bridge we went along the dusty trail towards Si Cafe. No one was tempted to stop here, remembering the better and worse times passed here. From here we rode up to the Shfayim center, out the back around by Har Suf and the water park, through the kibbutz and out by the nature statues. Picking up speed we zoomed down the hill, crossed the bridge and into Rishpon. The bikes nearly knew their own way home towards Raanana but a little twist at the end, we rode along the new road in the making and made it for coffee at Park Cafe by 10 o'clock for refreshments.
No punctures to be reported and not too much sand. Thanks to Gaby who bravely led us this week and didn't lose a rider! We covered just over 30 km's in all and once again, a good ride was enjoyed by all.
It could have been an uneventful local ride but several things do stand out.
Over time was involved in a variety of sports :
The Cyclenix Group
My Away-Away biking history:
My bikes history:
My Happy hobby:
If you have any questions or want to get in touch for any reason, feel free to get in touch with David or John: