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

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Ride: Postmortem

The ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was extraordinarily challenging; a fitting end to the five day ride. I left Alyn hospital before the closing ceremony, very tired. My left achilles tendon was extremely sore but, other than that, I was in good shape. (Ironically, I think the achilles was sore because of all the walking I did in my bike shoes at lunches and rest stops; I don't think it was riding related.)

So, what are my overall impressions?

The ride was better organized this year. The vaad hired a logistics company because it was getting to be too massive to handle on a volunteer only basis. We got out on time every morning; no small feat when you are dealing with 325 riders. The food was generally good and plentiful (with the exception of my galus on the second night).

The mechanics were great, much better than last year. A few of them rode with us so they were always around. They were helpful and cheerful (even though, l'maisa, other than them putting my bike together upon my arrival, I didn't need them at all).

For the second straight year I managed to ride injury free, crash free and even flat free. I am very grateful for that.

I met some new people, including a rider and his wife who had been avid readers of my last year's ride summary, and a wonderful group from the Heschel school in Manhattan. The truth is that I not much of a social bug and I am uncomfortable in large group settings. I tend to find a few good friends and stick with them.

Once again, the worst part of the ride was the waiting for the slower riders at lunch and rest stops. At least it wasn't 100 degrees like last year (although on the first day, we froze at the top of the Golan for more than an hour). I don't know if there is anything they can do about it but it really is a drag. I'd actuall prefer to ride longer than wait.

And, again, this year it was clear that the ride is all about climbing. You can train 150 miles a week but if you are not working on climbing you are largely wasting your time. Where I live the best way to prepare is by using a spin bike and ratcheting up the knob to simulate climbing tough hills. Even though the longest ride I did since May was only 35 miles (and my longest ride all year only 50), I was able to manage because I would get on my spin bike for 45 minutes to an hour and crank like a fiend.

I was ok this year but I feel I could be much stronger. Between the baby totally screwing up my outdoor riding plans and the fact that I did not listen to music all year because I was in avel (mourning) for my dad (so my spinning was all music-free), I did not train nearly as well as I might have. I already feel that I am stronger now, now that I am spinning to music once again.

So, I already look forward to next year's ride. In my new job I am able to influence the calendar of events so I made sure that I have clearance for when the ride is likely to take place. I will maintain a very strong base and start hitting the road in April. I'm pumped already.

If any of you is thinking of doing the ride next year, a couple of words of advice. Lose some weight. The tubbier you are the harder it is to climb. Next, get yourself a spin bike. Unless you live in a hilly area and can get outside a lot, it's the only way to train. See you on the road.


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