Monday, May 31, 2010

News that hits home....

As I sit here in my apartment, in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, I can't help but think about the recent events that transpired. While, I will not comment on the actions of the Israeli Armed Forces last night on the Mediterranean Sea, I will however comment on the fallout.

As the day went on further details were released, politicians made statements, and pundits predicted the possibility of a third intifada, I merely kept an eye on the news and went about my business like anybody else. I got a haircut, did my laundry, bought some groceries, and ate dinner, but then a piece of news came across the wire that really hit home for me as both a temporary resident of Israel and a cyclist.

According to a Turkish newspaper, an Israeli cyclist was attacked during the Cycling Tour of Trakya. While, the article does not mention the name of the rider, I gather that he is a member of the Tel Aviv Cycling Club and in all probability, I've raced against him, passed him on the road some weekend or we may just have some mutual friends. Regardless, it does bring home a reality that reminds one of far worse events that have happened to Israeli athletes. With two of my Israel Go Pro teammates currently abroad as I write this and I wonder, will they also have to deal with the fallout out on the road as they ride and race?

Furthermore, the attack on the cyclist and U-18 Israeli and Turkish soccer teams cancelling their upcoming friendly, I can't help but think about how real the news is for Israelis and Israeli athletes. While at home in the States, I am given the luxury of military exercises happening on the other side of the globe. And thanks to the brute strength of the United States' influence in all arenas, our athletes hardly get anything beyond a few protesters. Whereas the recent events happened off shore, just a few hours drive from where I sit, and athletes I know, can fear for their safety.

But for me, the most daunting aspect of this attack is when politics enters the world of sport. While I am not a fool, I am fully aware that no sport is impervious to global politics. I have always thought of sport as the one place where politics did not belong. Say what you will about a government; athletes, like all other citizens of any country are not the government. And it should go without saying that violence should not be considered a good form of protest. As it says in the bible "violence only begets more violence." As naive as it is I hope that in this modern world, where communication is so paramount in our daily life via the social networking, e-mail, fax, phone, etc... that maybe, just maybe, we could discuss issues, keep sport as a wonderful distraction, and a be positive way for countries to interact and deal with political and cultural tension.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photoblog Ride Tel-Aviv (תל-אביב) to Tsova (צובה)

Since I really haven't been racing, and this is a bike log I felt like I needed to start appeasing my readership in other ways aside from my thrilling pedantic race reports. And so it came to pass that I decided to start photoblogging like Dante. I have done this before on two occasions, last summer in Maine and the preceding winter in Schenectady. So, now that I've fully introduced the subject, I'll continue on to the meaty parts.

When: The ride occurred last Saturday or שבת as it is called 'round this parts.
Who: I rolled out of town with Ian, and Idan of BU Cycling and another American, Brian.

How it went down: We started bright and early in Tel Aviv to hopefully beat the heat at 8am with plans to head toward the Nachshon interchange. We left town fairly uneventfully and it was fairly boring getting through the urban sprawl and other nonsense you have to deal with all the way to Lod. But when I took out the camera on Rt. 44, about 50min into the ride things finally calmed down as we left the highway for smaller roads.

We reached the Nachshon interchange soon after and decided to split up as Brian had to head back to TLV for whatever reason. From there Ian, Idan and I rolled on eastward towards Tsova, where there were cyclists galore, enough so that the government had sought it fit to put up these signs every 10km or so:

After we followed Rt. 44 from the Nachshon interchange for a while we took a left onto Rt. 30 for a few km north towards Eshta'ol Junction.
After Eshta'ol junction we made a right and start the climb up to Tsova, where we were greeted by some dude with his goats.Now, after that the climb got steep, Ian said it's about a 14% average for 5km. But from my experience, it was wicked steep and with the sun frying me like an egg, it was a less than pleasant experience.
But, after 12 minutes or so of pure agony, I reached the top of the steep portion of the climb and hung out in the shade for a minute or two to cool off. Next was a short descent, where we rolled deeper into the mountains and were treated to some of the most beautiful riding I've ever experienced.

Then after a few km the road opened up again and the trees disappeared and we emerged towards the top of the climb.
Here's Ian, near the top looking back to the west where we came from, in the distance you can just barely make out the Mediterranean Sea.We could have continued climbing, but it was getting late and getting really hot and we were concerned with heat exhaustion. So we turned back rolled through the trees again, I grabbed a few more pictures of the hills from the other direction.
After we descended Tsova, we went back to Rt. 30, back up Rt. 44 and I snapped this shot of the hills we had just left.
After that we stopped again at the Nachshon junction rest stop, topped off our bottles and hoped not to die in the last 1.5 hrs we needed to ride back to Tel Aviv as the temperatures were starting to soar.

After taking 44 back to Rt. 40 and going through Lod, around Ben Gurion airport, basically back-tracking the whole way we stopped once again at a quick-stop after 1:15, as we had all finished off our bottles and needed a break from the midday sun. After checking Idan's iPhone we learned that it it was about 90 degrees F with 50% humidity and blazing sun. The three of us shared a 1.5L bottle of Coke to stave off dehydration and rolled back into Tel Aviv.

In the end, it was a great ride, I was so happy to not have died as the heat was torture, and we learned that we can't leave past 7am for the rest of the summer, because heat stroke/exhaustion and dehydration are becoming real threats after 11am.

Ride Stats: 120.65km (~75miles), 4:15, 775m of climbing. See map below.

Bike route 637551 - powered by Bikemap