The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Ride: Day Two - Raining on Our Parade

Can you hear me, that when it rains and shines
(When it rains and shines)
It's just a state of mind?
(When it rains and shines)
Can you hear me, can you hear me?

After my hot shower on Sunday afternoon in the Keshet Guest House in the Golan, I washed my jersey and bib shorts and set them out to dry on a tree outside my room. After a few minutes I realized that this was not necessarily a good idea. And, indeed, it soon began to rain. And then it began to pour. All night.

The start of Monday's ride was postponed an hour based on weather reports that the rain would subside. In light of Sunday's experience no one was going to under dress today. At 8:30, in a very light mist, we all gathered on our bikes with our rain gear and layers and started to pull out.

No sooner did we get to the main road when it began to rain again. Not just rain. Torrential rain. And sleet. The kind of rain that if you're driving you turn the wipers to the highest speed and still can't see more than a few feet in front of you. The rain was bouncing off my helmet, dripping off my rain jacket and pouring onto my bib tights. My legs and feet couldn't have been more soaked.

All this time we were riding down some treacherous downhills. It was freaky but, in a strange way, exhilirating. Going through my head was the thought, "I cannot believe I'm doing this". Finally, after a full one and a half hours, the rain stopped and the sun began to peak out of the clouds.

After 26 miles we finally reached our first rest stop, in the southern part of the Golan. Because I wanted to do the optional climb to Kochav Hayarden later that day, I had no more than 10 minutes to rest before I hopped back on the bike.

The next leg was a highly technical and extremely steep segment that took you from the top of the Golan back to the Galil. The views were spectacular but you could not spend much time looking out because there were more than a score of hairpin turns to manipulate. I was happy to finally reach the bottom.

At the bottom, a strange thing happened. It began to get warm. Very warm. I stopped on the side of the road near some banana plants and removed my rain jacket and long sleeve shirt. The good news is that the weather for the remaining three and half days of the ride would be just like this.

The rest of the way until Beit Shean was fairly flat and fast except for the optional climb to Kochav Hayarden. On the way, however, I just missed an accident that was caused by two idiotic riders who were fooling around while riding. One of them got tangled up with the other and went down right in front of me. I swerved hard to the left and missed her by a few inches. Then I had to swerve again to miss the other idiot who was riding with her. He stopped abruptly, again right in front of me, and I had to swerve hard to the left again to avoid him. I literally ended up on the shoulder of the opposite side of the road.

The climb to Kochav Hayarden was about 3.5 miles straight up. The gradients reached as high as 17 percent and never went below 10%. It was a bear. Thankfully, I had had a good night's sleep and a very good breakfast and was feeling very strong. I steadily made my way up to the fortress at the top. The way down was a lot of fun and I reached some pretty high speeds. Besides feet that had never dried, I was feeling good and comfortable when I pulled into the Beit Shean Youth Hostel for what I thought would be a comfortable night.


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