Certain Cyclenix rides should be compulsory. Anyone who misses this ride should be condemned for being unaware/insensitive/apathetic of nature, colors, natural beauty, Israel's pioneering spirt, companionship and the technical ability to come through unscathed!!!!
Kibbutz Be'eri, named after the Histadrut leader Berl Katzenelson, founded in 1946, was constructed overnight as one of the 11 outposts, to define the future border of Israel. During the War of Independence in 1948, the settlement was heavily attacked by the Egyptians forces stationed in Gaza forcing the settlers to live for many months in underground bunkers, until their liberation in October 1948 by the IDF in Operation Yoav (10 Plagues). Today the kibbutz has close to 1000 inhabitants working in agriculture (wheat), printing, garage etc.
The drive from Ra'anana is 100 kilometers southwards along the coastal road. Arriving early has the advantage of available parking on a Saturday during the poppy-season. Towards late morning when we drove home against the traffic, new visitors had serious problems to crawl along 5+ kilometers backlog and very limited parking space available.
The kibbutz is situated in arid, semi-desert conditions where the annual average rainfall is under 250 mm. After seven years of drought, fortunately this year has proved, so far, to be above average as we see the increased height of the wheat and quantity of wild flowers, red poppies and yellow common fennel and rock rose, more prevalent than previous years rides. The flowers have a very short 4-6 week span from mid-January to mid/end February. We were fortunate to see a few very large flocks of buzzards (a median-sized raptor with wide-wings).
The 30 kilometer, three-hour ride took us through the kibbutz lands exposing for us, the visitor, to examine the results of many years of hard labour to create economic agricultural subsistence in a dry climate with very poor soil conditions. Wheat fields are grown in sand (virtually no soil), the stones have been pushed aside, trees grown (JNF forests) on the hill slopes where the natural exposed rocky face is not favorable for farming. Unfortunately the qassem rockets and mortars fired from Gaza (which borders the fields of Be'eri) have caused serious crop damage in pervious years, as we the riders, could witness the evidence of burnt eucalyptus forests everywhere (see photos).
We visited the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) monument in memory of the Australian and New Zealand troops who conquered this area from the Ottoman Turks during World War 1 in 1917 (see photo). We rode along a 'concrete road' constructed by the British in the 1930's to transport sulphur from the local quarry to Gaza (sulphur was used as an antiseptic, insecticide, fungicide, pesticide, bactericide, fertilizer, match-heads).
The single tracks were almost always down-hill, riding through the forests is always very pleasant, with a few serious short descents and 'wall' on the other side. Fortunately no rider was injured.
See you next year...
For details of the route and other GPS data see: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/148709846
An elastic 15 (we grew and shrank during the ride) started off from our usual meeting point. We headed off on our familiar route to the lookout over the blue, sparkling sea.
In the words of Johnny Nash:
"I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
It's gonna be a bright bright bright bright sun shiny day"
The only obstacles we had were a few muddy spots, but they were easily navigated. There were lots of cyclists out enjoying the excellent weather and we were lucky enough to see a number of the black Iris that blooms at this time of the year. For those that like trivia, a strain of the iris, the Iris nigricans is the national flower of Jordan. We went on past the golf course and then headed to our watering hole at the gas station. We tanked up, enjoying the sunshine. Congratulations to Barbara, who has a new grandson in Australia and to Menachem who was riding before going out to celebrate his birthday with his family. We cycled a very pleasant 29 km with very few splashes of mud to bring home.
Two rider....yes, only two! What happened to the rest of you? True, it was raing and also hailing at our starting point, but that was before Hylton and I set out. Hylton actually unloaded his bike twice this morning. After the first time, and before I arrived, it started hailing so he put the bike back in the van and seriously considered abandoning his cycling plans!
However, a short while later, I arrived and the hail had stopped and the sun was peeping through so, off we went heading for the Herzliya Marina, having decided between us that we would avoid mud.
We headed for the Marina traveling West along Ahuza and then turning South at Reh. Yerushalaim, our aim being to reach the Marina via the Herzliya Park and Herzliya Industrial area. We made it to the Marina and then made our way along the pier to the very end. Believe it or not (see the photos) there were surfers braving the rough seas. Both Hylton and I took a few showers (not by choice) now and then (again, look at the photos), before making our way to Cafe Neto on the Marina where the two of us had a great breakfast before heading back to Ra'anana. One thing is certain, the rain suits that we were wearing passed their test with flying colours!!!!
90% of the ride was in cool sunny weather and we covered in all, 30 kms. Those who stayed in bed, missed a good and enjoyable ride which was relatively "mudless".
Participants: Six (which could have been 8 if 2 of our regulars -who shall be nameless - had taken their wake-up-alarm system a little more seriously!) which included Rafi sporting his brand-new squeaky-clean Merida (it didn't look quite the same at the end of the ride!). Many hours and kilometers of happy riding Rafi.
Route: From Ra'anana down to Kfar Shmaryahu, then along "Dina's Trail" to the lookout south of Arsuf; north via the Sharon Beach Nature Reserve (still a bit early for the Black Irises as we discovered) to the southern tip of Wingate; over the footbridge to Yakum; north again down the single-track and through the picturesque Yakum Nature Reserve (where the Kalaniot are already out in abundance); south on a rather muddy (mea culpa!) track, an uphill (challenging!); under the Coastal Road to Ga'ash for a refreshment stop, and back to Ra'anana - total 38 km.
Bottom Line: Who says rides in the Sharon area are boring!!!!
Six hardy cyclists gathered to venture out in the early morning chill (around 11 degrees C to start with). Only after about 10 km did we start to feel our fingers and toes....
The views on our familiar route were spectacular - the crisp weather gave us a clear view of the surroundings -
"On a clear day,
on a clear day,
you can see forever,
and ever, and ever more" (from the musical On a Clear Day You can See Forever)
We didn't burst into song, but did ride at an easy pace, bumping into familiar faces along the route. We managed to avoid most of the mud so David's new shoes are still looking sparkling and new. We enjoyed the winter sunshine at the Ga'ash coffee stop and by the time we got back to Ra'anana, we covered an enjoyable 32 km.
The Magnificent 6 by Ted
While some chose to forgo the opportunity to ride in a new region (for various reason) and the last for 2011 five of us did not want to miss out and at 0800 (plus a few minutes) set out from Arugot with Hagai at the helm. The air was crisp (and the wind cold) but a surprising sunny morning gave added value and warmed the charged atmosphere already loaded with anticipation at what was in store. New territory brings new challenges.
We travelled east and stopped for fresh figs (we pigged or figged...ask Merril) and took in the amazing vistas of agricultural landscapes with many types of crops. Browning grape vines, sunflower, field crops, grain and others, stretching for miles (unusual in Israel unless you move southwards from the narrow coastal plain). We reached route six and veered south travelling gradually upwards over rolling hills running along route 6.
Just as we turned eastwards a car bearing my grandkids came along and Itai my 5yr old g/son removed a bike from the car boot and joined in on the ride. His dad Eyal and sister Emma followed in the car until we had completed the climb to the highest point in the region where we stopped for hot herb tea provide by Hagai and Eyal. There we sat atop a lofty lookout where we took in the Toscana -like breathtaking vistas. The wind tore through our bike-ware so after a hasty munch and sipping we took off for one long thrilling descent passing by various villages and settlements. Too much to take in on one ride.
The hazy but blue sunny conditions helped to make this a brilliant ride and our thanks go to Hagai (Eyal's brother) and Eyal for planning a fabulous route and a great ride. Deserves a return ride!!!!!!!!!
If we'd lost our way or started off in the wrong direction, one could say the "we blew it"! But, that was not the case today. WE were blown! There were lots of the usual pluses....nice crowd of riders; sunny weather; not too hot; good food at our "breakfast" stop.......but there were a few minuses! First of all, we missed the presence of David and Ingride who decided to give today's ride a miss ( I think they knew what was in store for us!) and the BIG minus was the VERY strong headwind that we faced when we turned for home. This was definitely one of the strongest winds we have faced for a long time.
As soon as Ted had fixed a puncture, (this should have been a sign to us that there was trouble ahead!) 13 of us set off on our ride with a nice strong tail wind pushing us West along Ahuza Street and then on one of our usual routes towards the Tel Aviv - Haifa railway line where we made our way North towards Yaqum. Ted wisely suggested that in view of the strong wind that had sprung up soon after we left the starting point, and at the stage was behind us, we should cut the ride short and turn back at Yaqum (which we did). As we turned South and headed for our breakfast stop the battle began. The strong head wind was relentless and I reckon that we used a good 30% more energy than we usually needed.
Our "breakfast stop" was a welcome relief and thereafter we headed for home battling against the wind all the way until we turned East towards Ra'anana. The ride was 32 kms but at the end of the ride it felt as though we have ridden 50kms!!!! Despite the wind I think we all had a good time and there will be plenty more good rides ahead of us.
OK, here it comes:
Surprisingly, after the large turnout of the past few rides, only 9 of the usual crew showed up for today's ride, which took place in perfect weather - cool but sunny, and gradually warmed up.
We started out northwards towards the usual Udim-Yakum-Gaash track, but here I introduced a small twist which I learned a few days ago. After exiting from the pardessim of Bnei Zion, near the Ultralight landing field, we crossed over to the North side of the Poleg stream ("puddle" is a more appropriate description) and turned eastwards after the large water reservoir. We continued in an interesting agricultural path among newly planted fields. Near Dror junction we turned sharply westward and after a quite long climb reached Tel Itzhak. Continuing from there westward we reached the railway bridge which we frequent in every ride towards Udim. Here we also met Avi Tsaban, who betrayed our friendship and continued on a different direction with other people.
Here Ingride picked up the glove of innovation, and decided to continue by herself in a different direction from the rest of the group, notwithstanding vocal warnings to the effect that she would lose her way.... And lo and behold, the entire group gradually turned back and gallantly followed her. This turned out to be a good move, since her path led us to the familiar bridge over the Poleg near Udim, but from the southern direction. Here we ran across a large group of horseback riders who dared their horses to ford the knee-high waters (that is horse knee). Some of the horses liked the idea, some did not, but in the end all crossed, under not so gentle persuasion from their riders. Everybody got thru this experience dry, except the horses.
From here it was the usual route thru Udim, Yakum and the traditional slow-service gas station cafe in Gaash. After filling our bellies, and with nobody splitting and going home the fast way, we innovated once more, turning at the shopping mall westward instead of along the heavily congested service road. We cycled around kibbutz Shafyim and reached the waterpark from the west. From here, across the fields and the Rishpon bridge, it was the usual route again, nice and uneventful. For those who care to know, the passiflora fruits are already on the trees, but they are not ripe yet.
Having prolonged the usual trip by a couple of miles due to the detours, we all returned home after a pleasant and a bit tiring ride. See you all next week.
Well, at last the postponed ride took place. At least 13 Cyclenix riders were at the start of what was a well prepared and organised ride. "Well done" to the organisers!
A desert has often been described as "miles and miles of nothing". It has also be written on more that one ocassion that "Israel made the desert bloom".......and this is what we saw yesterday. The photos show it all. If we get a little more rain then I am sure the "desert" will become a carpet of green. Despite what many think, I think that the desert can be (and yesterday it was) beautiful.
The route was some 6 kilometres shorter than advertised but this was probably because it was revised because probably recent rains had made parts of the original route somewhat muddy. There were lots of uphills (none too strenuous or long) which were always followed by a reasonable lengthy downhill to give tired legs a chance to recover. Megan and Frederic set off at a blazing pace and they finished almost an hour ahead of the other Cyclenix participants. Well done! At the end of the ride we rested a short while and then some of us set off to a well derserved "brunch" stop.
There is one small mystery that we can't seem to solve. Gabi pointed out that according to David's trusty GPS ..." we gained 1,222 feet in elevation but lost only 1,146 feet.That means we were left some 60 feet up in the air." !!!
You can see the GPS data of the ride at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/133641152
7.30am, cold but sunny and where was I? With about 19 other cyclenix riders of who 3 were "newies" Welcome to Yvette and Ilan who hail from Tel Mond, and Menachem who have joined our ranks. Hope to see all of you many more times in the future and hope that you enjoyed today's outing.
Our regular sweep, Ted was not with us today (he had Grandfather duties to perform) and so yours truly assumed the duty. However, after reaching the entrance to Bnei Tzion the sweep was swept away for reasons that will not be expanded upon. Yes, I lost the major part of the group and remained with four others. The larger group took the high road and I took the low road with my four stragglers and we did meet up some 20 kms later at one of our regular breakfast stops, the gas (petrol for those who are not Americans) station at Gaash. David who lead the larger group reported on a very pleasant and somewhat different route from the time I lost them. My little group rode on to Udim. The route David took was at least 7 kms longer than my route to Gaash. Having satisfied our thirst and hunger we moved on to home base (Ra'anana). All in all we rode at least 32 kms in great weather and excellent company.
If you have any questions or want to get in touch for any reason, feel free to get in touch with David or John: