By Don Feldman
In 1972, during the summer following my freshman year in college, I started bicycling in a serious way. I spent the summer working for my father at his office in Manhattan and I decided to bicycle to work from our home in Belle Harbor, in southeastern Queens. It was 17 miles each way, and I still fondly recall crossing over the Marine Parkway Bridge, through Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue, crossing over the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan.
I was going to college in Annapolis, Maryland (no, not the Naval Academy) and I decided that I would plan a bicycle trip back to school from New York City. So come early September, I packed my gear on my bike and in my backpack and was off. Unfortunately, there was no way to get to New Jersey by bicycle (except over the George Washington Bridge, which would have been 60 miles out of the way), so my father and I packed my bicycle and gear in the car and he drove me through Staten Island and over the Goethals Bridge and dropped me off on Route 1 in New Jersey. My first day’s ride was to Washington’s Crossing State Park on the Delaware River in NJ. I remember my father joking that he could drive me there in about an hour and a half. But, of course, I refused the offer, got on my bike and was off. The second night I spent at a youth hostel in Denver, Lancaster County. I still remember riding through Lancaster County late in the afternoon on a beautiful summer afternoon through Bird-in-Hand on my way to Denver. Subsequent legs took me to Gettysburg, Cumberland Maryland, down the Potomac (part of the way on the C & O towpath) to Harper’s Ferry, spending the final night at a youth hostel in Washington, D.C. After the final day’s relatively short 30-mile ride to Annapolis, I arrived triumphantly on campus!
So now, 49 years later, at the age of 68, I am embarking on a more ambitious trip – a bicycle ride across Israel. My earlier trip was about 400 miles, but this trip of about 225 miles over five days will be more arduous on an “age adjusted basis”. On October 19 in Jerusalem, about 150 riders from around the world will gather to start the ride. We will go west out of the Judean hills to the coast, down towards Sderot near Gaza, then to visit Sde Boker, home of David Ben Gurion, through the Negev and finally arriving in Eilat on the Red Sea.
I have been training for this trip for the last six months and recently I rode 30-35 miles every day for 17 out of 20 days. Some of these rides have been with the Lancaster Bicycle Club, including the Covered Bridge Classic. So, I think I am almost ready!
The Israel Ride is sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli non-profit that promotes environmental research in the Middle East including Sustainable Agriculture in desert environments. They help make the desert bloom!
Support the Arava Institute
The Arava Institute was formed in the wake of the 1994 Oslo Accords as a way for Arabs and Jews to work together on common environmental and agricultural projects. It is located in Kibbutz Ketura about 30 miles north of Eilat in the Arava Valley near the Jordanian Border. In Israel in particular and the Middle East in general, water is a very precious resource. One of the major research projects of the Arava Institute focuses on Sustainable Agriculture in a desert environment. The Institute brings researchers from all over the world to Israel to work on these projects. The Institute offers formal academic degree programs in conjunction with Ben Gurion University. To learn more, see https://arava.org/. The Israel Ride is one of the major fund-raising projects for the Institute.
Please visit my personal Israel Ride webpage and consider making a contribution to the Arava Institute to support me and Israel.
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