BEN SHEMEN FOREST - At 06:45 on a Saturday morning, the main Tel-Aviv / Jerusalem highway, is populated mainly with cars with bicycles attached from both above and behind. Best to keep your distance from anyone else, as they return from the all night parties I wasn't invited to.
As the sun peeped through the Jerusalem hills, 90% of the cars indicated right, towards Ben Shemen Forest, famous for its singles; the type of singles that have nothing to do with marital status, nor with all the all night parties. Five minutes later, we arrived at one of Israel's largest display of empty, lonely bicycle carriers, with hundreds of cars already squeezed in between the trees.
Everything related to bikes, and more, was on sale, whilst dozens of cyclists oiled their chains and optimized their tyre pressure, in preparation for the unknown challenges ahead.
Now neatly parked, 10 of us pedaled off into the forest. It's 7:30am, and the first downhill was a rapid reminder that the sun still hadn't blessed the forest with its warm rays. As the words "wind chill factor" came to mind, I admit wishing for a short break. Didn't need to wait long. On the first uphill, the chain snapped on one of the guy's bikes, and 3 bike surgeons, predictably led by David, our leader, put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
It wasn't too long before the individual chain links became a functional chain again, the sun was up, and the real cycling began.
There are a couple of reasons why hundreds of cyclists flood to Ben Shemen Forest every Saturday. Firstly, there's the macho brigade, wearing full (cycling) body armour, attacking, or being attacked by, the singles. And then there's us. Enjoying a "respectable" 20km of "medium" ups and downs, including a couple of challenging, yet non-suicidal singles, whilst enjoying some breathtaking scenery.
15km into the ride, we found a "picnic" type spot, ideal for refreshments and deep discussions as to whether or no "Radio Days" really was Woody Allen's best film. Yet even a short rest has its price; in this case measured in reduced concentration. With our wheels once again rotating, and with my right hand bus" off handle bars", when I needed to brake, contrary to experience and education, I squeezed only the left brake lever. I knew it was an error well before I went over the handlebars, but the brain refused to authorize the hand to release, turning me into an instant circus act for all to see. With the bike seemingly OK, one of the group reminded me to check my body, too. Oh, yeah!
It wasn't long before we rode into the buzzing car park area, wher" war stories" of the last hours were being exchanged by the masses, and where the lonely bike carriers were re-populated with their best friends. The bike cleaning service, which, with the help of soap, water, oil and a toothbrush, returned the bikes to their pre-7am glory seemed very popular. I spoke to th" dentist"; only NIS 30 for a full bike make-over. Next time.
What an excellent morning! What did you do today?
...14 of us pitched up for our weekly ride. It wouldn't be a Cyclenix ride without my bike needing attention...(or myself that is)! A cry out to David, our faithful leader and handyman, who as always solved the problem.
Off we went out of Ra'anana toward Kfar Shmaryahu, trying new paths, looking for a way to Arsuf. As usual a short refreshing stop for all our senses... high up above, from the sandy cliff, is the most amazing view of the Mediterranean sea, and of some people camping and fishing below. Sitting on the edge of the cliff, inhaling the fresh sea air and enjoying a few laughs and of course photos taken for our web site.
Recharged and back on our bikes riding...skirting Hof Hasharon Nature Reserve, we headed toward Gaash and Yakum. At our usual water stop at Café Buono Yakum, once again the Harley Davidson gang also had their stop. I personally was admiring their bikes while riding through the mass of bikes. At this point some decided to take the shorter way home, some took that path and returned to find the majority who stuck with the long way. Seemed to me that some paths were new and some were known, but just done backwards for a change.
The weather was great except for the head wind that loves joining us for the end of our rides. The ride wasn't hard, but was longer than usual, and the company, as usual always great!
For breakfast we went to Landwers, where the service and food has not yet failed! Although my Endomondo only tracked 28 km's I was told that we did over 35 km's.
About 15 of us gathered at exactly 7:15 in Elishema for another Saturday ride. After the early morning
schmooze we had finally decided to move on, around quarter to eight. Michal showed up with a new
bike for a trial ride. Even if she had some problems with it and our expert checked on it several times
the ride was much easier for her than on her old bike.
We took our familiar route with a few new twists led by our great leader and expert. John specially enjoyed some of the sections that he didn't do with us previously. The weather was wonderful not too hot and not much sun, just right for riding. I myself was most surprised with the energy that I had during the ride. I even managed to ride up the hill at Nahshonim with a break in the middle catching up with Merill and waiting for the rest.
At kibbutz Einat we were deserted by four of our members who opted to go straight home. The rest of us had a lovely time at our usual resting place, refilled ourselves with drinks and beverages, and I must mention, excellent service. On the way back I managed to get dirty passing through puddles and towards the end of our ride I fell in one as well.
While we were waiting for Ingrid I was saved by Ted washing the dirt off my arm with to the last drop of the water he had. I hope he got home safely and didn't dehydrate. Well, about Ingrid. On our way we saw a nice little dog wondering around. Ingrid decided that the dog is abandoned so she picked it up. However the doggy wanted to walk so she was walking slowly with the dog. (See picture) Thalia and I gave up waiting for them and rode back to Elishema. I carried on riding home thanking but refusing Ted's offer to take me home. Just between us I wouldn't and couldn't sit anyone's car after my last fall. Anyway the weather was good to carry on with the ride. Oh, Ingrid I just remembered that forgot to take the shirt, next time... Thanks anyway.
All energetic to start off the new year with a great ride, about 20 of us pitched up at our usual spot. A couple of new faces (for me at least), a couple of old timers, who join once in a while and almost all the special regulars ready to begin the new year on the right foot.
What started off as quite usual, from Raanana into the fields, Bazra, Bnei Tsiyon somewhere on the way we took a turn to a path that we have previously been on with not so fond memories. To our pleasant surprise the sandy sand that was once there had been blown away leaving a nice path to ride. A string caught in Davids bike, a not serious fall by Dana making sure to have black and blues for her sons wedding, a bit of a challenging end, an always expectable prank by John and surprisingly all dare to take on the singles and not going around them, never a dull ride! Udim, Yakum, Rishpon and back to Raanana, all just names of places where we hit the trails.
The blue sky above, refreshing clean air of the country side, the birds chirping, strangers out walking themselves or their dogs at the early morn and of course my favorite the trees! the weather was in our favor, not too hot with a nice breeze. The company never fails, making sure that the ride will be great, with good discussions, occasional chit chat and a lot of laughs.
These are all my reasons for being mad enough to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, on the only day you can sleep in. These are the reasons for my oh so questionable sanity!
To the lazy ones who ditched today (you know who you are) you will be forgiven since yom kippur is ahead of us... but do not do it again!
All in all it was a perfect start for the new year, a glance to a great year ahead of us. May we all have a great year! a year full of riding and friends!
Shana Tova and well over the fast.
Well, this is the last ride report that will be published this year! For those who preferred to ride an easier ride and nearer home, 8 of us met at our usual meeting place. It was great to see Merrill back with us after her successful knee surgery, and to enjoy the company her and Megan after too long as absence.
We headed off towards Rishpon, travelling along Weitzman and taking the route via Lev HaPark. At the Rishpon level crossing we headed North along the Eastern side of the Tel Aviv - Haifa railway line stopping after about300 metres to render "first aid" to a fellow biker who needed an inner tube with a French valve. Thank goodness for Merrill's presence as she had what was required. A quick exchange of a few words between our group and the group with "the puncture" and we were off heading North. The construction of Road 531 is taking its toll of many of the paths that we used to ride. The latest casualty is the disappearance of the lovely small eucalyptus grove just to the South of the Shfayim railway siding. Boo hoo!
From there we made our way towards Yaqum and followed a route that we have traversed often in the past.
The weather was perfect., not too hot and on one or two occasions even a few drops of rain. The avacados have made their appearance much to Merrill's and Megan's delight.
Our breakfast stop was at Landwers where we met up with Stuart and his new "Rolls Royce" of a bike... the top of the line Specialised. All I can say is "WOW!...what a bike." We wish him many hours of happy and safe riding. Breakfast, was, as usual, great, and having satisfied our thirst and hunger we headed for home.
Another very 30km+ ride with a bunch of happy people had come to an end. See you all next year and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Starting at Bat-Shlomo, a village established back in 1889, we headed down the slippery slope to Nachal Daliah for a well-photographed crossing of its
mighty waters. We proceeded along Nachal Menashe and then started to climb, eventually reaching the highest point of the ride, Ramot Menashe, a relative newcomer to the scene from just 1948. While passing beneath the high-flying (and quite new) bridge of Kvish 6 we encountered a fast-moving group of cross-country bike racers led by an even faster motorbike. Now fast really means fast, a bit like mother duck and her little brood of ducklings, but on steroids. There were several other groups of racers in the area, meaning that the more leisurely-inclined (see below), such as ourselves, were kept busy staying out of harm's way. Then back under another of the bridges along Kvish 6 and a fun downhill to a field of vines laden with sweet, purple grapes; regrettably, those who like their grapes chilled did not get satisfaction. Past another field of brightly-colored but unavailable pomegranates, then along Nachal Taninim all the way to Amikam, founded in 1950 by refugees from China (I didn't know that, did you?). Somewhat disappointing not to see any crocs or gators in this eponymous stream, but perhaps not unexpected since there did not appear to be any water there either. The next stage was uphill to Har Horshan, followed by a fast descent down the weathered rocky slopes of its south-western flank, and back to our starting point, with a short steep climb for the finale. Some of us gathered at a nearby cafe for a little late-morning refreshment.
A fine ride in ideal weather, led, as always, by the Fearless Leader. Ride distance was 22 km, with 300 m climbed (so it really wasn't so leisurely), and an average speed of 11 km/hr.
A most excellent Shana Tova to everybody (today's participants - some regular, some long lost but now found - may identify themselves in the photos), and see you back on your wheels next year.
Ok, so I've been asked to do the ride write-up this week. This is the first time I've done this and I know
that you all of you will go easy on me as I am names and locations challenged.
This week we started with 20 brave riders. Most rides start by riding west but this time our fearless leader David took us east along Ahuza. After about 1Km we turned south and stayed in that direction for quite a while. We went through neighborhoods I have never been before, so it was very enjoyable. We crossed road 4 and continued to the Yarkon river at which time we headed east. It was nice to ride along the river and through the bamboo tunnels. At the concrete house, there was a large group of bikers and so we took a quick break. Several from our group knew some of the other riders so it was a nice time to reconnect. At road 5 our group split up, 10 continued east and the rest of us riding south under road 5. We rode by the Baptist Village and I was asked to give a short tour though the property, which I gladly did. If anyone missed it and would like to come for a visit, just let me know. Continuing our ride, we made a loop coming back to road 5 and road 6 intersection. We made our way north to Hod Hasharon where we stopped for our most important part of the morning, our coffee break. Afterward, we pretty much split up into three groups and went our separate ways home, with three of us making it back to the morning starting point. It was a great ride and even better company.
I do have to say that on the ride home I really need to watch out for those dangerous poles on the sidewalks, they jump out and attack you. After one grabbing my handlebars and knocking me to the ground, I was able to protect the bike from the ground with my body shielding it from any damage. I always try to keep my priorities straight and save the bike from any injuries. All is well.
The Tzuba ride is a formidable challenge and with the advancing years it has become for me a chance to prove "I can still do it". The night before is therefore one of convincing myself that all will be well. One major factor in this ride is the weather and throughout the week David and I followed developments and to our good fortune the weather was as good as one can get for early Sept.
So when we 13 riders set off I was thankful that the weather issue was resolved and now it was up to my body. To make things worse David had chosen the southern route for the ascent which is the harder way to climb to Tzuba from the Martyrs' Forest. Add to that the fact that this ride commences immediately with an uphill without a warm-up ride. Having said all that... how did we (me included) fare with the cards stacked up. Brilliant, courageous, piece of cake, difficult, awesome, wow, legs killing me, give me air, will it ever end, just a little rest, walk a little, dodge the oncoming down-hill maniacs, what a view, smell the pines, no giving up, Tzuba in sight, we're at the top. What, no more climbing. Just some comments I heard on the way up reflecting many sentiments associated with the ascent.
And now for the down- hill. The precarious descent from Tzuba to Ein Limor followed by a dip for some in the pool. With some saddles lowered we continued the rapid way home over rocks and stones, humps and gravel shifting, arms shuddering with the bouncing forks, asses in the air at times jolted out of the saddle and with a rush we are back at the cars calling out well deserved superlatives about this ride. Undoubtedly a favourite of many which we will continue to ride (legs willing) in the years to come. David's Navigation continues to prove trustworthy and for details go to the gallery.
Thanks to David for inspiration , leadership and the statistical data. Lastly a mention about the other groups and individual riders one encounters on these rides. We are a community sharing amazing resources for common enjoyment. We need to work together to protect this environment and to respect it with taking it for granted. Various organizations are involved in protecting these resources so find them and support them. Call me if you need further info... Ted 0523520000
Ride Report - Sat. Sept. 6th, 2014 - The Tzuba Ride - By Stuart Ballan
Oh, it's SO good to be posting about "just" cycling again. Yesterday, in the hills near Jerusalem, at 7:30am, we started with a steep, long 11km climb. By the 3km mark, (Still not knowing I had 8km to go), I was humming one of my favorite Alex Hepburn songs, and with a smile. At 5km, I was singing it out loud with a frown. By 8km, I swore to delete it from my iPhone. At 10km, I just swore. Listen for yourself at ...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5qTeP94rac
Anyway, it was literally all downhill from there ... Some remarkable descents; one so steep that we had to lower the bike seats, to move the centre of gravity backwards (anagram of "don't want to fall over the handlebars onto very rocky surface"). I will remember the longest downhill, over a not too friendly surface, as the first time I (unintentionally) got airborne, and somehow managed to land on 2 wheels and "laugh it off" (gulp). With the sprint for the finishing line (car park!) recording 41kph for a 1km stretch, these 4 hours of cycling in weather that was kinder to us than need be (some clouds, rather than constant, burning sun) will be remembered as "the best fun one can have with clothes on".
Quite a crowd of us gathered on Saturday morning to venture out once more in the open areas, now that there is no longer the threat of nasty explosive objects dropping from the skies.... We set off and kept up a good pace to try and beat the heat. When I first started cycling (not with the group) I used to complain that I was "wilting" after only about 10 km. Well, I have improved since then, but I have to say, after our approximate 30 km, I was wilting. The heat and humidity - a dog day - took its toll.
So why Dog Day? It refers to the hot summer days of July and August and comes from the Romans who associated hot days with the star, Sirius (considered to be the "dog star"). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky and it is said it is a time when "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid"!
Well, luckily for us, we At the end of our relatively fast ride, we enjoyed a welcome stop at Arcaffe. We enjoyed being on the track and under the trees and no longer on the tarred cycle paths. Thanks to David for leading us back!
Whilst Israel's friendly neighbour continues to fire rockets in our direction our weekly rides have been restricted to cycling in urban areas so as to be within easy reach of a shelter.
Despite it all, 18 riders presented themselves at the start and off we went, ably led by David, discovering lots of urban roads that we never knew existed. We also had an opportunity of see the progress of the new 531 highway presently under construction.
Lots of new huge manmade mountains of sand and huge trenches from which the sand had been dug was evidence of just how big this project is (and how many moles must have had to relocate!). Avraham, the adventurous one amongst us, who is always looking for a challenge took some great photos of the consstruction. Here's an extract from Avraham's e-mail under cover of which he sent the photos taken by him...
"After parting with you and some paciflora (passion fruit) picking, I turned back to reach you at Landwer's.Well done Avraham!!!
But then I saw these two beautiful artificial mountains (picture 174).
The temptation was too big and I climbed one of them and took pictures of the other one with 2 bikers on top of it..."
If you have any questions or want to get in touch for any reason, feel free to get in touch with David or John: