Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bikers' Playground

"An amusement park for bikers!"

That was what I thought the first time I rode there a few weeks ago. As part of my Alyn training program, I went back yesterday to get some practice in and I decided that my original assessment was correct. The area around Tzomet Nachsom is a complete biking playground.

For the on-road bikers, there are well-maintained roads flanked by decent shoulders and framed by gorgeous scenery. The traffic is normally relatively light on Fridays and Saturdays--making biking safer and more enjoyable. For good measure, the area has been peppered with signs imploring drivers to please not squash the bikers.

The real fun, however, happens once you get off the roads. The entire area is liberally sprinkled with national parks which are in turn liberally criss-crossed with well-marked and well-maintained trails. For the more adventurous (also known as "not me"), there appear to be an equal number of narrower, more challenging trails. A single ride can take you across farmland, meadows and forests and up and down lots of big and little hills.

Nice grapes, no? פסטורלי כזה. I wanted to steal some but between the 1) driving on Shabbat 2) buying coffee on Shabbat and 3) buying druze pita on Shabbat, all combined with the presence of a plethora of large and potentially viscious rocks conveniently at hand in the event that G-d decided to exercise his wrath on me and my bike, I came to the conclusion that I probably should not push my luck.

Depending on which path you choose, you will stumble across all sorts of historical sites and artifacts from the War of Independence. The Burma Road (where I rode yesterday). Latrun. An old plane with picnic tables nestled under the shade of its wings. I would have loved to provide a photo of that as well, but I forgot that my cellphone takes pictures until long after I had passed it. Of course I will never find it again. You will just have to take my word for it. Really! A great big plane! In the woods! With picnic tables under the wings!

Just like any good amusement part, this one offers refreshments. The biker-friendly Menta at the intersection of Routes 3 & 44 has coffee, water (examples provided below), snacks (I ate the examples-sorry)
a bike shop, a good sized parking lot and reasonably clean bathrooms. And even better, in the woods, somewhere in Park Rabin (or in another park--honestly, I was just having a grand time getting lost on my bike), there is a pundak where one can get lovely labane and druze pita with gobs of olive oil (see picture to the right) and zahatar (natch). If I may offer a word to the wise--learn from my experience and only go there AFTER you finish biking. I did not, and all I wanted to do shortly after I finished and was on my way was sleep but, unfortunately I was on my bike and going up hills so this was really not an option. Had I been wise, and had I anything resembling a sense of direction, I would have done my biking first and then I could have curled up on the couches and napped. (Granted, the couches were pretty skanky, being outdoors and all that. But then, by that point, so was I.) Do to an unfortunate genetic heritage, I was born completely minus a sense of direction, and so while I did think of waiting until the end of the ride to have my pita and labane, I realized that this was a foolish idea. I had read about the place in my little book of biking tours but I had only found it by accident and knew my chances of finding it again were approximately that of a snowball's in hell. As such, I determined that the only sensible decision was to have the labane right that moment.

It was a good decision. It was really yummy labane.

Unfortunately, I got a late start yesterday and only arrived at around 11AM--just in time to enjoy the full effect of the August hot weather. Needless to say, I did not achieve quite as much as I would have liked (only 35 km), but it was fun just the same. Perhaps, in the future, I will consider forgoing 1) sleeping in and 2) screwing around on the net reading blogs in favor of actually getting my bike and myself on the road. Or perhaps I will have fantastic intentions and will nonetheless do exatly the same thing as I did this week.

Next week I am off to visit Asher's part of the world (Asher--if you want to start a blog now, I can link to it) and am looking forward to seeing how it compares.


Baila said...

Latrun is a stone's throw from our place in Modiin. So if you're ever in the area and need a break (and a ride home ;) )....

Amazing that you do this stuff. You're a real athlete. Do you have one of those cute spandex biking outfits?

Originally From Brooklyn said...

Ok i think you may have convinced me to make Aliya. Though the would I have had as much fun as this one?

We shall see. Like all Americans.

Anonymous said...

It's called NachshoN and not NachshoM, and that's for a very good reason (1948)

As for my feeble attempts (Asher in Israland) at blogging, the best thing about it is the headline! So before you think about blogrolling me, I'll have to write a bit (and stop hijacking your blog and Treppenwitz), but then again it's much more fun hijacking Treppenwitz and he has such a readership, that it'd be pointless to write my own (suppose you wrote a blog and nobody came)

Anonymous said...

and Baila, I hope that you don't actually throw stones

Gila said...

Baila--I do have a collection of spandex though I do not know that I would use the word "cute" to describe it.

Child ish--Really???? Call NBN! I am redeemed! Yo--and someone pass me another glass of that Kool-aide. :)

Asher--will correct it later. Let me know if you get back into blogging; I will owe you a link.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...


Don't worry Gila, they read your blog too.

Anonymous said...

there's an interesting discussion relating to the grape quandry at

there are two queastions
one - can you take produce for your immediate use? generaly accepted that yes if you're famished but take nothing out
two - the picking and all the associated acts (removing husks and so on) on Shabbat

Gila said...

Asher--the grape quandry I was referring to was more along the lines of "thou shalt not steal".


aliyah06 said...

Great photos! Next time, do it all in reverse: the ride early am, and downhill, the blogs in the afternoon. Much easier, nachon? Still, your readership appreciates it--been here two years and still haven't done the Burma Road (On The List--need bicycle).

Baila said...


Actually, remember it's a shimitta year, and from what I understand the fields are open for everyone to enjoy. So if you see it in the next few months (until the New Year), go for it.

Better ask your local Rabbi first. I'm not exactly an expert.

David Staum said...

Hi Gila,

Great blog! I saw you on the webcast and took a look here.

The biking sounds like a lot of fun. You've just ruined my workday. Now I'm staring at my PC screen and thinking about being outdoors! And it's only 10:30 AM in my part of the world.

BTW, when I started reading the post, & you referrred to "bikers", I thought you meant motorcyclists and I immediately formed an image of you as a hardass biker chick!

Anonymous said...

The pictures give the text a boost, as for the grapes, one never knows if there recently been some spraying against a disease or an animal plague.
In case if, it will take a few more or less days for the poison to dissolve.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Oh, so many years ago, I went on the coolest bike trip around New Hampshire....

I wish I could bike around Israel!!

One day I'll tell you the story of how I brought my bike to Israel.

I used it once.


Anonymous said...

What you call "druze pita" looks a lot like what is commonly called "la'afa".

Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

What you call "druze pita" looks a lot like what is commonly called "la'afa"

Or am I missing something?

Gila said...

La'afa is much thicker. Druze pita is really, really thin.