April 10: so today I decided to ride to Kiryat Shimona the largest town on the Northeast side of Israel. It was, by the way, devastated during the last war with Hetzbolah in 2006. all of the North is pretty close to Lebanon and Syria. Tsfat, where I live, is only about 10 miles from the Lebanese border and took over 500 missles during that same conflict. I decided to take the flatter route out hoping that the highway was finished and there would be a shoulder all the way north. That was not to be the case.
The ride down via the old winding road to Tsfat was fun and becasue I left early it was an easy ride. Then I turned to the new highway to tsfat with the wide shoulder for the 8km descent. The ride is picturesque as we descent some 1,000 (or slightly more) vertical feet. From there I proceeded on Hihgway 90 north to kiryat Shimona. Since I have taken these by car many times I did not realize it was actually continuing to go down about 1-2% over a long part of the trip. I knew the return would be interesting. I also found that about 5 km out the highway was not yet completed (this has taken forever and I think is now a joke in Israel) and instead a road with no shoulder emerged. Thank God I had ridden in line so much the prior week. Trucks, busses and other oversized and obnoxious vehicles were on the path and the room for error was minisule. Once I got to KS it was a great feeling. I also so that it was 30 miles from my start point. More than I thought. Turning around after a quick drink and buying the two local English newspapers (which weighed alsomt as much as my bike as I stuck them in by back pouch), I returned the way I came. While on the shoulderless road I had my first flat. I had never changed one on this bike with the Zipp wheels — at first I was gentle and for over 1/2 hour I could not remove the tire. Screw it and I forced the lever and became less gentle. It seems that the gentle approach was not meant to be. This was also the first time I used my new CO2 pump. All went fine. While fixing my bike two cyclists coming in the opposite direction(the only 2 I saw all day — surprising since this is a national holiday in Israel) asked me in Hebrew if I need help — I so wanted to say yes just to meet them and hopefully exchange numbers. I so want to ride with others. One thing I found in Marrorca is how much I love the social aspect of riding. But that was not fair to them so I did not stop them.
Now came the last 10 miles, essentially all ascent. The return up the mountain wide highway — that was 8km and was fine. Then the twisted southern entrance to Tsfat. Wow that was intense. I did not want to stop. I wanted to do the whole 10 miles without a rest. The Tsfat part was as difficult as anything I did in Marrorca. The ascents had to be over 10% — I could not be sure becasue the battery went on my Garmin. but boy was it tough. And I made it. Meryl (my wife) told me I was nuts. I felt proud of being nuts. Great ride.
One lesson I did take from this is that I need to be much more careful to drink. I was not drinking enough for this ride and I felt it on the way back. Israel is warmer and I will get into trouble if I do not drink more.
About 60 miles, probably 2,500 ft of ascent (not sure because my computer went). About 3.5 hours.
and the best part, two of my grandkids were there with my daughter and wife to greet me when I arrivied. From the porch of our apt on the 5th floor they called out “zeidi” (granddad). They were so excited!!