Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Everyone Knows It's Windy

Today was the best, strongest day of riding I've ever had. As a result, I am almost too tired to write this.

For the third straight day, we headed south from Tiveria along the Kinneret. We were joined today by the Challenge riders who spent Monday night at the same hotel. (A few of the riders told me that the vibe on the challenge ride was much better than last year and that I would have easily been able to manage it. Nevertheless, I'm happy with my choice).

After 4 miles we turned west and started climbing. The climb was about 600 vertical feet in about 2 miles. I felt strong and managed to finish among the challenge ride hoi paloi (the elite riders probably could probably have descended and made it halfway up again in the time it takes me).

We then took a short break. The ride organizers made a significant change in policy that made a huge difference. They picked up the straglers in a SAG van (in this case a bus) at a predetermined time so that the other riders would not have to wait so long. This changed the whole complexion of the ride.

After the break we did another nasty climb, this one 1200 feet over 4.5 miles with some crazy gradients (as much as 14% in some areas). Again, I did fairly well and ended up among the lower quarter of challenge riders. (To put it in perspective, this is the hill that I descended at a high of 47 mph. If you can go that fast downhill it means it's a serious climb).

At the end of the climb there was a fantastic gradual descent for a number of miles during which I averaged about 25 mph without working. For a change the wind was at our backs.

After another break, we rode about 20 miles to lunch, 15 of them into a howling headwind. This is where riding with people who know what they are doing made all the difference.

While we were breaking, the challenge riders climbed and descended Har Tavor, a difficult six mile climb. We met back up with them after the break. I knew that the next stretch would be very windy and I was determined to stay with the big boys in order to take advantage of their pace line.

I rode more than 10 miles with lead group of about 40 to 50 riders. Most of the time we were riding double file. Finally. The lead pelaton broke up but I was able to stay with a group of about ten riders the rest of the way. I worked very closely with a rider from the challenge ride and we exchanged "pulls" whenever we were about to lose contact with the group.

Riding in a paceline, particuarly into a headwind, can be 30% more efficient than riding alone. (I felt this last year when I kept getting dropped and had to ride alone). As a result, despite working hard and riding at a fast pace, I was relatively fresh when I reached lunch.

After lunch we faced the penultimate climb of the day (how often can one use that word?). This was 4.5 miles to Meggido, an ancient Biblical city. The scenery during this painful climb, through a forest, was absolutely glorius. I managed this climb reasonably well.

The next part of the ride was another long gradual descent, most of which, unfortunately was on a major north-south highway. I rode in the front group and averaged over 20 mph without working too hard.

The evil ride organizers decided that we couldn't end the ride on a downhill. So, instead, we ended with a sick 1 mile climb up to Zichron Yaakov. My quads were screaming 'no mas' with every pedal stroke but I got to the summit among the top ten riders (the challenge riders had headed elsewhere for the night). We were done. What an awesome day! I was fried.

From the good news department: The rider who did a face plant into the side of the mountain on Sunday was back on the road today with nothing but a bad facial bruise to show for his trouble.

Tomorrow's climb to Mount Carmel was cancelled by the police. That's both good news and bad news. The bad news is that I had been looking forward to it for a while. The good news is that it makes tomorrow a relative day off with only 40 flat miles to Ranaana, a suburb of Tel Aviv. I am happy for the "active recovery" day.


We are waiting for days 4 and 5 !
You happen to be the most valuable source of insider info regarding the Alyn ride, for newcomers.
Even though I am not a newcomer anymore, keep up the good work
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