Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alyn Day Two

Monday, November 10th - Yitchak Rabin’s Memorial Day
Lahav- Yatir Forest- Arad
72km/45mi distance; 1200m/3940ft ascent
We leave Beer Sheva early for Lahav to reunite with our bikes. From here we will ascend a short part on a side road of the Sansana Forest. When we pass by Kibbutz Kramim (vineyards) we can get a glimpse of their plantations of exotic and unique fruits.

We will cut across the Meitar Forest and the Eshtamoah riverbed and climb the mountain ridges to the ruins of the ancient village of Yatir at an altitude of 623 meters/2,044ft. From this point eastwards is the Yatir Forest the largest planted forest in Israel (about 10,000 acres.) At this juncture we have a special challenging surprise for you – an orienteering section in pairs!! Along the route there will be orienteering “control stations” that you will have to find by using the map. At the end of the navigating section we will have lunch next to the Anim ruins.

Next to the village of Har Amasa (859 meters/2,818ft.) we will ride on road # 80 to a speedy and enjoyable descent. We will pass Tel Arad and the Yatir winery and reach Arad which is renowned for its clear and exhilarating air.

During the day we will enjoy the view of the Hebron Hills to the North, the Judean Hills to the East and the Negev to the South.

For some odd reason, instead of feeling worse today, I feel better. My "ass back" mantra is working and I am starting to feel slightly more confident on the rocks and gravel. Of course, I am still walking my bike up and down the steeper hills—the former because I did not train enough and the latter because I am a coward. These walking bits notwithstanding, by mid-morning, I am enjoying the route.

Here and there, when she decides to take long breaks, I catch up with Mandy. One such meeting is shortly before we arrive at the Hill From Hell, an ascent so steep that it is an incredible struggle to even push one's bike up it, much less actually ride the thing. (Who the hell put that on the route? What were they drinking when they did?) Mandy manages to get her bike up the hill herself, though she does aim some pointed queries of the male bikers gathered at the top of the hill as to whether chivalry really is that dead. I make it almost to the top, and then get stuck. I can move the bike or I can move myself, but I cannot possibly move both. I stay in place, flailing helplessly, rather like a turtle that has fallen on its back. Finally, one of the mechanics riding with the group takes pity on me (I mean, at first it was probably amusing to watch, but after a while…) and takes over the bike part so that I can get myself up.

The " special challenging surprise for you – an orienteering section in pairs" starts from shortly after the Hill From Hell. Mandy and I both decide to skip it, on the basis that רק זה חסר לנו; we need an additional challenge like we need holes in the head. Besides which, Mandy already has a sense of direction and does not need to practice orienting. For my part, I have absolutely no sense of direction, to the extent that I can and do get lost in my own neighborhood, the place I have lived for three years. Sadly, no amount of orienting exercises is going to change that.

[My apologies for being pedantic, but if you tell me what the challenge is in advance, on your website, than how can it be defined as a surprise? Unless you have hidden a live bear or some other unexpected challenge at one of the stops, the element of surprise has, alas, been lost.]

So we continue on. Now we are passing through a nice area; in addition to the requisite rocks and gravel, there are also lots of trees. We ride up hills. We ride on flat bits. We ride down hills. On one of those down hills, I find myself going a bit too fast. I squeeze the brakes.

While riding over gravel.

This was not a good idea.

To put it mildly.

Instead of going slower, I go faster and lose control of my bike. The tires slip out from under me. I fall hard on top of my bike, flat on my face and chest, and then continue to slide. Finally, I come to a stop, crying out as I try to suck in air. I am terrified. I am sure I have broken something in my chest. Like my lungs, for instance.

This being a group of Jews, there are doctors aplenty. Two of them come to help me. They determine that: my back is not broken, my limbs are not broken, my head is not broken and (what a relief) my lungs are not broken; I just had the wind knocked out of me. And my knees and elbows sport massive scrapes. And I fell on my head with enough force for my helmet to leave a heavy imprint on my forehead. I spend the next week looking like Worf from Star Trek.

Eventually, with the doctors' help, I manage to turn over. A sizeable group is arrayed above me. I have everyone's full attention. I seize the moment.

"Well, seeing how we are all here….I am looking for an apartment in Jerusalem".

After some minutes, Jackie, the chain-smoking medic, arrives at the scene. He cleans my scrapes, smears them with anti-bacterial ointment (or something) and bandages one of my arms. The next person to arrive is Oded, the head bike guy. It turns out that my bike is injured as well; both of us are flagged for the rest of the day. The bike and I hitch a ride with him to the next rest stop. There, Simon, the droll Alyn nurse, wraps up my hand and gives me ibuprofen for the pain in my chest. When I anxiously ask him what I should be looking for and how I will know if something is really wrong with my ribs or lungs (which really really hurt), he looks at me with a very serious expression.

"Well, if you have a sharp pain in your side? And blood starts running out of your mouth? Call Jackie. Or go behind a tree and die. Quietly".

I do so love Brits.


We have some time before dinner so Mandy and I decide to go look for real coffee. We head off towards the Arad mall, where we make the shocking discovery that there is no Aroma in Arad. I am terribly confused. How can this be? It is only the next morning that I manage to solve the mystery. In addition to there being no Aroma in Arad, there are also no traffic lights. Not only that, but the drivers in Arad are polite and yield at traffic circles and wait for bikers to pass them of their own volition, and without heavy police presence. No Aroma, no traffic lights and no Israeli drivers can can be explained by only one thing: somehow, we are no longer in Israel.


Asher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Asher said...

What, you missed out on the live bear? Not just any old bear but the one from the Hotel New Hampshire! And the keg of Dancing Camel beer halfway through the orienteering?

Sounds like the Hill from Hell is worse than Asher's big slope which we didn't do and put off till later (which will be June 2009, right?)

Treppenwitz, who may have banned me from commenting cannot stop me reading him (assiduously) wrote about Anin severel times like this one

or try this

how can I add hyper-links in comments, everybody else manages, and I can't?

December 17, 2008 10:30 AM

Asher said...

"Well, seeing how we are all here….I am looking for a husband in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or anywhere in fact with the possible exclusion of Petach Tikva".

With my luck they'd all have been corporate lawyers.

And the medic smokes bike-chains and the bike guy examines your head or am I misunderstanding something here

Better quit now and leave a bit for others

Gila said...

To chain -smoke is to smoke one cigarrette after another.

Head bike guy--guy in charge of organizing the actual biking.

Anonymous said...

Once have spent a forced Friday and Saturday in Arad, the only food to be cookies made things slightly bearable.

In Dutch the word drol means turd.

Baila said...

Great story telling, Gila. Awaiting Part III.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic but:

What is the most appropriate way to spell "Chanukah?"

It seems like the way I just spelled it is becoming the most common. Has there been any consensus on this issue yet?

Asher said...

the most appropriate way to spell Hanukka is

Anonymous said...

How about in the English Language.

Anonymous said...

What about Horse.