Itinerary

The Israel Ride is a seven day experience. We begin with an orientation day for check-in, building your bike, and a practice ride. The adventure continues with 5 days of riding, with a day of rest (Shabbat) in the middle. Our 2018 Israel Ride will feature some of the best cycling in Israel: from Jerusalem to Eilat, through the Negev Desert.

Each day’s route is broken up by rest-stops every 12-15 miles, and a longer lunch stop midday.

Below is a draft itinerary for the 2018 Israel Ride, subject to change. 

Select a Day

2018 DRAFT Route Map

For each riding day, we offer three routes options. As shown on the map here, the routes generally parallel each other, although on some days they stay in separate locations.

  • Shomrim ride an average of 30 miles/day, generally stopping at lunch and then touring in the afternoon (varies daily).
  • Tzofim ride from hotel to hotel, about 55 miles daily, and is typically our largest group.
  • Chalutzim average 75 miles, with additional mileage and climbs.
  • Our Chaverim touring group parallels our route throughout the week.

Choose from the drop down list above for each day's schedule and route details for the various group. Please note this is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Online interactive maps are available on RideWithGPS.com. These online route maps are updated often - we recommend waiting until just before the Israel Ride to download the files to your bike computer.

Pre-Ride day in Jerusalem

We have no official programming on Monday, but encourage riders to come early to Jerusalem. You can book Monday night at the Ride hotel in Jerusalem through Explority, the online forms portal.

Monday Pre-Ride Schedule

3:00 pm Hotel rooms available for check in
4 – 6 pm Israel Ride check-in open in the lobby
7 - 8 pm Dinner at the hotel for guests
9:30 – 10:30 pm Check-in open

Orientation in Jerusalem

Orientation to the Ride will be held on Tuesday, October 23rd, at the Ramat Rachel Hotel in Jerusalem. You need to be at the hotel no later than noon, but your room may not be ready until 3 pm.

You are responsible for your own transportation to Ramat Rachel. There are private taxis (about $50) and shared “sherut” vans (about $18) from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem.

Starting early Tuesday morning, our mechanics will be available to help you assemble your bike or be fitted with a rental bike. There are two bike assembly times: morning and afternoon. We will organize a test ride to make sure everything is in working order.

There are two optional tours (to the Old City) in the morning.

Chaverim are welcome to join any of the tours or spend the day exploring on their own.

Regardless of your morning plans, all participants are required to be at the orientation starting at 4:15 pm.

Tuesday Schedule

Morning Bike Assembly and Afternoon Tour

7:00 – 10:00 am Breakfast for Monday night guests
8:00 am – Noon Bike Assembly
9:00 am – Noon Israel Ride Check-In
Rental Bike Pick-Up
10:00 am Test Rides Available
Noon Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 pm Afternoon Tour of Ramat Rachel

Morning Tours and Afternoon Bike Assembly

7:00 – 10:00 am Breakast for Monday night guests
8:00 am – Noon Morning Tours Leave
Noon Lunch
1:00 – 4:00 pm Israel Ride Check In
Bike Assembly
Rental Bike Pick-Up
Test Rides Available

Afternoon Activities for Everyone

3:00 pm Women Rider Gathering
4:15 Israel Ride Welcome & Orientation
MANDATORY
7:00 Dinner
8:30pm – 10:00 Israel Ride Help Desk Open

Accommodation: Ramat Rachel

Jerusalem to Ashkelon

Jerusalem Morning Schedule

All riders will start with a bus ride to the outskirts of Jerusalem, where we will have a launch ceremony and begin riding.

6:00 am Optional morning prayers
6:30 Breakfast
7:15 Riders load buses to start locations

Shomrim & Tzofim launch together; Chalutzim separate

8:00 Chaverim tour van departs
8:15 Launch ceremony and roll out!

Ashkelon Evening Schedule

Each riding group will arrive at the hotel separately.

2-3 pm Arrive
5:00 Outdoor pool closes
6:00 Dinner
6:45 Optional evening prayers
7:00 Route briefing and crew presentations

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 33 miles, 1296 feet climbing (395 m climbing)

Shomrim will take a bus to the outskirts of Jerusalem, and start riding on the same basic route as the Tzofim. After lunch Shomrim will continue riding to Beit Guvrin to take a tour of the Roman-era antiquities and underground cave system. Afterwards, they will be bused to the hotel in Ashkelon.

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 55 miles, 2194 feet climbing (669 m climbing)

Tzofim will be bused to the outskirts of Jerusalem, for the launch ceremony. The morning route will start with a long downhill from the Jerusalem hills, passing a few small communities in the area with one short climb. Lunch will be at Luzit. After lunch, the route heads west towards the Mediterranean coast, ending with a ride through the port city of Ashkelon.

Accommodation: All riders at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Distance: 66 miles, 3405 feet climbing (800 m climbing)

Chalutzim will be bused to the edge of Jerusalem, for the launch ceremony at the village of Ein Karem. They then ride towards the other groups' starting point. Lunch will be at Luzit with the other groups, before heading to Ashkelon.

Accommodation: All participants at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn

Chaverim will travel in a van or minibus to each location, driven by their tour guide. 

Start the day with a visit to to Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam, an intentional community jointly established by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. We will join the riders for lunch at a small community in the Jerusalem hills. In the afternoon we will visit the Adullam Grove Nature Reserve, with
options for shorter and longer hikes.

Chaverim expect to arrive at the hotel in Ashkelon around the same time as the riders.

 

Ashkelon to the Northern Negev

Ashkelon Morning Schedule

All groups start together as we leave Ashkelon, and begin to ride around the Gaza Strip.

5:30 am Optional morning prayers
5:45 Breakfast
6:30 Riders launch!
~8:00 Chaverim depart

Thursday Evening Schedule

Each riding group is in a separate location, but with similar schedules. Chaverim will stay with one of the riding groups.

~3 pm Arrive
6:00 Dinner
6:45 Optional evening prayers
7:00 Route briefing and crew presentations

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: Shomrim at the Kibbutz Tze’elim Guest House (in Hebrew)

Distance: 42 miles, 1589 feet climbing (484 m climbing)

Shomrim will continue passing various agricultural kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip, with two rest stops to learn about the geopolitics of the region. After lunch, they will visit the "Salad Trail" to learn about desert agriculture. They are then bused to Kibbutz Tze'elim for the night.

Accommodation: Tzofim at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh Guest House

Distance: 68 miles, 2567 feet climbing (782 m climbing)

Tzofim will have lunch at Urim. They then continue riding southeast, starting to climb towards the interior of the country, as the terrain transitions to desert. They will end their ride at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh, in the northern fringe of the desert, staying overnight with the Chaverim.

Accommodation: Chalutzim in Nitzana

Distance: 92 miles, 3039 feet climbing (926 m climbing)

Chalutzim will follow the same morning route as the other groups, but will have lunch later in the day at a desert oasis. After lunch they have a few extra climbs at the end of the day heading towards Nitzana near the Egyptian Border.

Accommodation: Chaverim at the Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh Guest House

Start with a visit to Netiv HaAsara, where we will add to a growing piece of art on the border between Israel and Gaza. Join the Tzofim for lunch along their route. Visit “Shvil SaSalat” in Moshav Talmei Yosef and learn about the kind of agriculture practiced on the desert’s edge. Drive along the scenic route and make a few stops. Each group stays in a separate location this night; Chaverim will stay in Mashabei
Sadeh with the Tzofim.

Note: On this night, each riding group is staying at a separate location in the northern Negev. The Chaverim will stay as a group with either the Tzofim. Those whose spouses/partners are not staying at the same location as Chaverim will room with other participants.

 

Northern Negev to Mitzpe Ramon

Friday Morning Schedule

While each group is at a separate location, everyone has the same basic morning schedule:

6:30 am Breakfast Opens
7:30 Cyclists Roll Out
8:00 Chaverim Depart

Friday Evening Schedule

In Mitzpe Ramon, everyone takes a rest over Shabbat. See the Saturday tab for more details on how the Israel Ride observes the Sabbath.

~2 pm Everyone arrives in Mitzpe Ramon
3:50 Walking group to local Orthodox Synagogue
4:08 Candlelighting (on your own)
5:30 Gather as a community to welcome Shabbat
6:00 Reform and Conservative service options
7:30 Friday night dinner

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 34 miles, 1828 feet climbing (557 m climbing)

Shomrim ride through the northern Negev, stopping for lunch at Sde Boker with a visit to Ben Gurion’s grave. Afterwards, the group will explore Ein Avdat, a spectacular narrow canyon in the Negev. At the opening of the canyon the water of numerous springs descends into two deep pools in a series of waterfalls.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 50 miles, 4050 feet climbing (1164 m climbing)

Tzofim begin in Mashabei Sadeh, and will head east up some hills early in the morning for a first stop in Yerucham. Afterwards, the route heads south for lunch at Sde Boker and a visit to Ben Gurion’s grave. Tzofim will continue
riding south towards Mitzpe Ramon. The final miles are generally uphill, with a particularly steep climb just before our final rest stop, near the Nafha maximum security prison.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Distance: 60 miles, 5140 feet climbing (1567 m climbing)

Chalutzim ride along the Egyptian border for the morning and then head east to end up in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the heart of the Negev perched atop Makhtesh Ramon, a giant erosion crater.

Accommodation: Mitzpe Ramon: Pundak Ramon and Ramon Suites 

Visit David Ben Gurion’s retirement home at Kibbutz
Sde Boker and then take in the incredible vista from
his nearby grave site. Hike the gorgeous Ein Avdat water trails and join the riders for lunch afterwards. On the way to Mitzpe Ramon we will stop to visit a set of ancient desert cisterns. Stay with everyone over Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon.

Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon

mitzpeRamonAfter three days of riding, the biking is interrupted by a much needed day of rest for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. Shabbat is an integral part of the Israel Ride. During the day, all programming is optional, but we offer communal prayer options, discussions, hikes, and yoga, plus opportunities to learn about Hazon and the Arava Institute.

Many participants reunite with friends or family who are welcome to join as guests for the weekend. Guests can sign up through our online Forms Portal.

Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday, which occurs around 5:28 pm. We come together to mark the transition from the work week to the day of rest with candle lighting. There are prayer options led by Riders, organized by The Israel Ride, and other options may be available depending on the makeup of the ride community. Following services, we ask that all riders join us for a festive Shabbat dinner, which includes traditional songs and blessings over wine and bread.

On Saturday morning we host an intimate Shabbat service, led by many of the riders. There will also be options to explore the area, practice yoga, and more. After services, people connected to Hazon – through participation in events or fellowships – share the Hazon vision in a panel discussion. In the afternoon, the alumni of the Arava Institute discuss their experiences living and learning together.

Shabbat closes with Havdalah, a ceremony which we conduct as the sun sets over Makhtesh Ramon.

Friday Evening Schedule:

~2 Everyone arrives in Mitzpe Ramon
5:15 Walking group to local Orthodox Synagogue
5:28 Candlelighting (on your own)
5:30 Gather as a community to welcome Shabbat
6:00 Friday night services: Reform and Conservative options
7:30 Friday night dinner

Saturday Morning:

7:30 Breakfast opens (until 10)
8:00 Walk (stroll) to the Makhtesh
9:00 Yoga
9:00 Traditional Egalitarian morning service led by riders
10:00 Introduction to Mitzpe Ramon
11:45 Hazon Panel

Saturday Afternoon / Evening:

12:30 Lunch
3:00 Mincha afternoon services
3:30 Arava Alumni Panel
5:45 Walk to the Makhtesh for Havdallah
6:45 Route Briefing
8:30 Dinner

I really needed the day off this year to allow my body a day to rest and recover from the demands of the first 3 days of riding. Even though I do keep Shabbat, that sort of day of rest that is truly for both body and soul is never experienced on a regular basis.

— 2011 Rider

Mitzpe Ramon to Arava Valley

Mitzpe Ramon Morning Schedule

All groups will start the day with a 1/2 mile (1 km) ride to the edge of Makhtesh Ramon, where we have an optional morning prayer service and take the group photo before starting the day. Chaverim can get a ride to the location.

5:30 am Breakfast Opens
6:10 Morning prayer group rides out
7:00 Everyone else rides out
Chaverim van departs
7:15 Group photo at Makhtesh edge
7:30 Roll out!

Kibbutz Ketura Afternoon Schedule

All participants will end the day at Kibbutz Ketura, home of the Arava Institute, where we have an afternoon of tours and activities. Half the group will be staying at nearby kibbutzim - we have options to shower at Ketura and enjoy the afternoon programming, or shuttles available to the other guest houses, returning in time for the evening briefing.

~1 pm Shomrim arrive for lunch and programming
~3:00 All other groups arrive at Ketura
3:45 Various tours of Ketura and Arava Institute
6:00 Meet and greet with current students
7:00 Evening briefing
8:00 Dinner

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge in new window)

Accommodation: Shomrim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Elifaz

Distance: 32 miles, 1722 feet climbing (525 m climbing)

Shomrim start with a stunning descent into Makhtesh Ramon, and then climb out the other side. After crossing a desert plateau, they cross Wadi Faran, one of the largest valleys crossing the Negev Desert, and have a short steep climb out before their final stop for the day. After lunch with the Tzofim at Shizafon, they will take a bus to Kibbutz Ketura for the afternoon activities at the Arava Institute.

Accommodation: Tzofim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Yahel, Lotan, and Ketura

Distance: 62 miles, 2970 feet climbing (905 m climbing)

Tzofim will descend into Makhtesh Ramon and spend most of their day on the main north-south road in the center of the Negev desert. After climbing out of the Makhtesh, they cross the desert plateau, climb out of the Faran valley, and then have lunch at Shizafon with the Shomrim. After a final
descent, an afternoon of activities awaits at Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute.

Accommodation: Chalutzim at Kibbutz Guest Houses: Lotan and Ketura

Distance: 88 miles, 3700 feet climbing (142 km / 1100 m climbing)

Chalutzim will follow the Tzofim route south, but will ride faster and have lunch further south. They will add an out-and-back spur that goes to Shacharut, a small desert community overlooking the Arava Valley. They retrace their route a little, and end the day with the descent into the valley itself, joining the other riders at Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute.

Accommodation: Chaverim will stay with their spouses / partners at various kibbutzim

In the morning the Chaverim can take their van to the overlook to join the riders for the group photo, and for the optional morning prayers before if requested.

Off-road jeep tour of Makhtesh Ramon to see the large erosion crater from a completely different perspective. See the flora of the region and their unique methods of adapting to the desert. Visit possibly the oldest temple in the world, the Temple of Leopards, dating back some 7,500 years, and
trace the move from hunter/gatherer to farmer. Join various tours at the Arava Institute.

In the late afternoon Chaverim are welcome to join various tours at Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute and meet the current students before dinner.

Arava Valley to Eilat

Morning Schedule

Each riding group starts in a different location. Each of the Sunday night overnight locations has its own morning plan so that everyone can join their preferred group on Monday.

6:00 am Breakfast Opens
6:40 Tzofim bus leaves for start location
7:00 Chalutzim start riding
7:15 Shomrim bus leaves for Timna
7:30 Tzofim start riding
7:30 - 8 Chaverim van picks up at each location

Eilat Afternoon Schedule

All riders will end the day with a triumphant ride into Eilat, with a party on the shore of the Red Sea.

~2 pm Arrive at the beach
3 - 6 Rental bike return and bike dis-assembly
6:30 Dinner
8:00 Closing Ceremony
9:00 Evening party

Overview Route Map
(click to enlarge)

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 17 miles into Eilat plus about 10 miles riding around Timna (26 + 16 km) and 607 feet (185 m) climbing

The Shomrim will start the day on a bus tour of Timna, a geological and archaeological park, site of the oldest copper mines in the world (from the time of King Solomon) and windswept sandstorm rock formations. They will join the rest of the group for lunch, at mile 30 of the Tzofim chart below, and then ride the final 17 miles into Eilat.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 49 miles, 2691 feet climbing (820 m climbing)

On the final day of riding, we will ride to the southern tip of Israel, ending with a stunning descent into the city of Eilat, where we ride through the city to the beach. After a celebration in the Red Sea we head to bike packing and a final dinner.

Tzofim start the day by being bussed up out of the Arava Valley, and begin riding where they turned off the cental desert road the day before. Most of the route follows the Egyptian border, which can be clearly seen from the road. After lunch, there is one final climb before descending to Eilat, where we will ride as a group to the beach.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

Distance: 58 miles, 4042 feet climbing (1232 m climbing)

Chalutzim will start with a 4 mile climb out of the Arava valley, and then continue riding through the desert to lunch. After lunch, there is one final climb before descending into Eilat, where we will ride as a group to the beach.

Accommodation: Sports Club Hotel

The final day begins with a visit to Park Timna, to visit the oldest copper mines in the world, and get a glimpse into the geological past of the earth.

Lunch with the Riders at Red Canyon.

Head up into the mountains for a panoramic view of the Red Sea, and look into Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

End the day in Eilat, meeting the riders as they end their journey with a celebratory finish on the shores of the Red Sea.

Post-Ride Travel Day

Our final day of the Ride is a travel day for most participants. Ahead of the Ride the Israel Ride will help book your travel back north, either a bus to Jerusalem or a flight to Tel Aviv.

You can book your domestic travel for Tuesday-Thursday using your online Forms Portal.

Tuesday Post-Ride Schedule

7 - 9 amBreakfast available

6 am Hotel pick up for Jordan trips (pack out breakfast available)
7 - 9 am Breakfast available
9 am Hotel pick up for Arava Institute tour (see more about our Pre- and Post- Ride Tours)
11 am Room Check out

For those leaving later that day, you can store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Eilat or relax at the hotel pool.

The Israel Ride staff is available through 10am to assist with any post-Ride needs.