Wednesday, November 07, 2007


The Alyn Ride: Day One, The Year of the Flat

After three years and over 1000 miles of Alyn Rides without a single flat, it only took six miles for me to get my first one on this ride. And then another 30 to get my second. This was apropos of the type of year I've had training. I've gotten an unusually large number of flats this spring and summer and actually changed my tires as a result. The tire that went flat twice today is only 100 miles old.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After a delightful Shabbos spent with OOS, OYS, OHDIL our two grandchildren, we bussed out to Tiveria on Motsai Shabbos arriving at our hotel around 10:30. After preparing my stuff for the next day, I turned in at midnight. For reasons I can't explain, I had a miserable night's sleep.

Davening was at 5:30 and breakfast was served at 6 and we assembled for the opening ceremony at 7. Even though this was my fourth such ceremony and they are basically the same every year, I still get a bit of a thrill.

Today's right was really like two different rides. The first 30 miles were flat and the next 18 were very hilly (3000 feet worth).

We followed the Kinneret south for about 12 miles. Then we continued south, and then west towards Afula. The truth is that, after leaving the Kinneret, the ride was not particularly beautiful. We passed a lot of farm land but not much else.

At the six mile mark I heard a noise that I recognized. Pooof. I pulled over to the side and started changing my rear tire. Owing to the fact that I've had so much practice, I've gotten pretty good at it. In any event, one of the mechanics on the ride appeared as if by magic and changed the tire in about 3 minutes flat (excuse the pun).

All was well until about a quarter mile from the lunch stop (mile 38 of 60).

After climbing hard for 8 straight miles I started cramping. Today was extremely hot and we were in an exceedingly hot area (Tiveria is 600 feet below sea level and the Beit She'an valley is even hotter). I think I fell behind in my electrolytes and once you're behind, it's very hard to catch up. I dismounted, drank a lot and stretched out my legs enough to be able to get to lunch. At lunch I ate enough to get back to normal and felt fine thereafter.

When I went to pick up my bike, lo and behold, the back tire was flat again. By the time I got the mechanics' attention, the riders had left. I was literally the last rider, by at least three minutes.

I began cranking and started picking off riders one by one. (It's kind of fun being one of the top riders on the regular road route rather than one of the worst on the challenge route). It took me a while but I finally made my way to the front (all while climbing).

At the 48 mile mark we finally began descending. A massive descent, in fact. I reached a maximum speed of 47 miles per hour. Unfortunately one rider lost control during that descent and crashed very hard. Miraculously, he was not badly hurt although he was taken to the hospital.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we pulled into Tiveria at around 4 pm.

I ate as much as I possibly could at dinner (one of the perks of this ride), had a beer (and I don't even like beer), took a Vitamin A pill (Ambien) and caught some sleep.

Day two is even harder, with a ridiculous 6 mile, 1500 foot climb to the Golan Heights and 30 straight miles of gradual climbing after that.


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