Jerusalem –> Ashkelon
The day has finally come! After months of training and fundraising, today the Israel Ride officially started. We gathered just outside of Jerusalem for our annual launch ceremony. With over 175 riding in support of peace and sustainability, clad in spandex and new matching jerseys, it was truly a sight unlike one I’ve ever seen. Our riders are divided up into three groups – Shomrim (Guards), Tzofim (Scouts), and Chalutzim (Pioneers). Shomrim ride an average of 30 miles each morning, and then spends their afternoon touring local sights with our amazing guides. Tzofim ride an average of 55 miles a day, while Chalutzim average 75. Whether you are a casual rider looking to explore Israel in an exciting new way or an avid cyclist seeking a challenge, there’s an option available to you.
On Day 1 of the ride, we left Ramat Rachel and headed west to journey through the Jerusalem Forest. As the group passed modern farms, Roman ruins, and biblical landscapes, they learned about the history of the land from the tour guides riding at their side. A few ups and downs later, we arrived at lunch for copious amounts of food, baskets of sunscreen, and some gentle stretching.
After lunch, the Shomrim toured the Beit Gurvin cave system. This tour was the first of the Shomrim’s five offered tours, and riders were able to explore a vast underground network of store rooms, olive presses, burial chambers, and residential homes from Roman times.
As the Shomrim explored this ancient city structure, the Tzofim and Chalutzim groups continued to ride after lunch and enjoyed miles of flats. The first ride day concluded with an absolutely gorgeous ride along the Mediterranean Sea into our egg-shaped hotel in Ashkelon, one of the oldest seaports in the region.
At the end of Day 1, we can already start to see those classic bike tan lines forming. Can’t wait to see what Day 2 will bring us…
Carlee Rosenthal & Khylie Gardner
Program and Communications Coordinators – Hazon