I’m back after 10 days in Israel, a trip that came at a time of tension (rockets raining on the south), uncertainty (whither Iran?), and resentment (secular Jews are still seething over haredi coercion). So of course the thing that stuck with me was — wait for it — the country’s emerging bicycling culture!
When I rode a bike in Jerusalem in the late 1990s, I often got the feeling that Israelis regarded me as either an idiot or a maniac. I got this feeling because drivers would often yell “Idiot!” or “Maniac!” as they passed me on the city’s narrow streets.
This time around I saw plenty of people peddling around, many on top-of-the-line Treks and Cervelos and wearing full racings kits (skintight uniforms, to you civilians).
Below is me on a mountain bike, which I rented from the Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon, where I was staying.
And below that is my new friend Ehud, whose idea it was to ride the trail, which runs parallel to the lip of Machtesh Ramon, a huge crater in the Negev.
South of Beer Sheba, I also passed a sign for “Terraces Single Track,” which I assume is a new mountain biking course, although I can’t find a reference to it on line.
A little research suggests the influence of at least two cycling fundraising events, one a benefit for Alyn Children’s hospital, the other run by Hazon. There’s also the Israel Bike Trail, a newish effort to create a trail from Mt. Hermon in the north to Eilat in the south.
I suppose there is something to be said here about disposable income, leisure time , environmental awareness, and Americanization. But who has the energy? My point is this: Lots of bikes in Israel.