Thursday, December 18, 2008

Alyn Day Three

Tuesday, November 11th
Arad- Hatrurim Fortress- Masada- Arad
55km/35mi distance; 1130m/3710ft ascent
From Arad we head South to Rosh Zohar. This high point was used as a lookout point over the ancient "Salt Road" from the Dead Sea to Hebron and Gaza. We have a deep descent into Nahal Morag (be careful!!), pass the Hatrurim Fortress and enter Nahal Ye'elim.
After a fabulous lookout (not compulsory!) from the Ya'ir Ascent at the top of the cliffs we will cross Nahal Rahaf heading North and continue on the desert heights until the Western slope of Masada, the last stronghold of the Great Revolt (70 CE).

In the Masada parking lot we will eat lunch, following which we have two possibilities: 1) Go up for a tour of the Masada site and then continue by bus to Arad 2) Ride back up a steep (over 8% grade) ascent to Arad. During the ascent, like Lot's wife, we will also stop and look behind us at the lookout point with a magnificent view of Masada with the Dead Sea in the background.

As anyone remotely familiar with Murphy's Law might have predicted, this day's biking is primarily comprised of hills, with a particular emphasis on going down hills. Going up hill is easy. If I can ride, I ride. If I cannot ride, I walk. Either way, I am generally going slowly enough that I am not likely to cause myself further damage.

The descents require a bit more thought. Given my unfortunate incident the day before, I approach downhills with caution. I classify them into the following useful categories:
A) Easy (about 5% of the hills)
B) Moderately challenging (10%)
C) Extremely challenging (15%)
D) Fuck No (70%)

"Fuck No" hills are the ones where descent while seated on a bicycle is not to be attempted at any cost. Instead, I walk my bike down, itself a challenge as these hills are steep and covered with sharp rocks and gravel.

I would classify even more hills as "Fuck No", were it not for Jackie, the chain-smoking medic, who after exhorting me to no avail to ride down a particular hill, pointed out (sensibly), that, at this rate, I was going to end up walking all the way to Masada.

Jackie, the chain-smoking medic, can be found happily lurching about in his MDA-equipped dune buggy or sitting on top of particularly large hills, puffing away. Jackie's presence at any particular spot is a sign that here, a medic is likely to be needed. As he watches us navigate the hills, Jackie exhorts us to go down the hills מהר, בלי ברייקסים (quickly, without brakes). I have yet to take his advice, in part because I am a coward and in part because I am not entirely convinced that it comes from expertise in off-road biking, as opposed to extreme boredom and hoping for a spectacular wipe-out which will give him something to do.


I have developed a crush on one of the riders. He is not only hot, but is also nice and (shockingly) single. My roommates, rather than being irritated by my blathering, have been kind enough to find it amusing. Of course, the object of my affections has no idea of the same or, if he does, he is studiously avoiding them.

As usual, I am at a loss as to what to do. Should I flirt? No, not exactly my strong point. Make a pass? Natch. Suddenly, I have it—a cunning plan! Use your strengths Gila! I will write a blog post about the ride, but instead of a boring, conventional post in which I thank this one and that for organizing the ride, running the ride and so on…I will create my own fun, funny and delightfully quirky thank-you list in which I will thank him for being such wonderful eye-candy. He will read it and will be so charmed that he will forget that I am lumpy and a bit dumpy and (at least at our last meeting) bore a distinct resemblance to Worf the Kligon…and will ask me out.

I run my idea by Yael.

Yael: Does he read English?

Me: Ummmm…..

Yael: Does he read blogs?

Me: Ummmm….

Yael: Your plan appears to be flawed.

Me: sigh... (Count on a mother of five to be brutally practical. )

But the thank you's are a good idea, no? As follows:

Oded the bike guy: for fixing my bike

Simon the medic: for being ear candy (LOVE the accent and the droll English humor) and for fixing my arm

Warren the doctor: for managing to miraculously be on hand whenever someone fell and broke something.

Masada: for the clean bathrooms.

Menta: Ditto. And the coffee. Must not forget the coffee.

Volunteers: for ensuring that the route was well marked with signs like this:

Salvador Dali would be proud.

The signs are actually supremely important. It is not just that the desert is big and a bad place to get lost because then I will run out of water and dehydrate and will have a choice between 1) a gruesome death or 2) making a phone call from the middle of the desert using the Jordanian carrier and having to sell a relative* to pay the bill and then waiting for someone to come rescue me**. It is also that the bits of desert that make up "the path" look pretty much like all of the other bits of desert, with the major difference being that if you ride on "the path" bits you will not ride over a the edge of a cliff and if you ride on the non-path bits, you will. I mean, in the forest, things are more clear: the path is the part without trees. In the desert, the path is the part without…what? You see the problem. So yes, volunteers, thank you very much for the signage. The random people with pompoms stuck out in the middle of nowhere were a nice, if surreal, touch as well.

* I can think of some relatives I would like to sell. I bet you can, too. So this might not be a bad thing.
** If it were Oded the bike guy, that would be cool. Though, honestly, he was kept quite busy and it would probably end up being Jackie the medic who would then try to goad me into going down all of the big hills "maher, bli braksim"


Anonymous said...

Maybe "bli breaksim" really means "without breaking a body part."

Anonymous said...

City slickers should stay (by law) out of the wild.

Anonymous said...

And they too leave a lot of trash!

Asher said...

All those descents and you still manage to go up 1130 metres!