Around Jerusalem

As previously posted, last week I did a 40 km ride around Jerusalem.  The event started at the newly refurbished railway station, partly to advertise its opening as a social, cultural, events and meeting venue. And very nice it is too.

Registration was to start at 6.15 am, but of course I arrived before then. The place was already alive.

Watch this space disappear

Watch this space disappear

But it got busier.

A sea of cyclists

A sea of cyclists

After I had picked up my event number, and joined up with Shosh and her crew, there was a wait until the start time of 7.00 am. Which became 7.15 am. I think the Jerusalem mayor was involved, but it was hard to hear much above the crowd. Besides, he was speaking this funny language…

It took a full ten minutes for us to get from our position in the venue, to the starting line. After that, on to the bike, and off we went on our ride.

The initial stages were on the roads, and the traffic was stopped to let us have a free and less dangerous passage. But after maybe 15 minutes, we were off road and climbing.

Jerusalem is hilly. Around Jerusalem it is hilly. So we went down and up, but mostly up. And after that, we went up some more. Thank goodness for the water stations.

"What do you mean, you have no bananas?"

“What do you mean, you have no bananas?”

It was hot, and I used up my backpack water all too quickly. I would have liked some fruit, but you had to be at the front of the event to stand a chance of getting a banana. The rest did not look too appetizing, so I stuck to water.

No escape...

No escape…

Everything went well until we got back into Jerusalem.

(Here, “well” is a relative term. I was hot, thirsty, tired, sore, and hot. But that was not the worst of it.)

Shosh, who had kindly kept me company for most of the time, was being held back by my pace, so I encouraged her to go ahead. But somewhere after passing the Teddy Kollek stadium in Jerusalem, I looked around and realized there was nobody ahead of me. The pack of riders had gone. Worse, there was nobody behind me. Worse, there were no signs, and no stewards. Yes, I was lost.

I cycled on a bit. No riders. (I was looking for any sign of the green color of the free t-shirt they gave each rider. Most wore theirs for the ride.)

A passing motorist told me to get lost keep going. But I was still lost. What did I do? I put on Waze (the Israeli GPS social network app about to be snapped up by Facebook, allegedly) and let it direct me. I reckon I did at least an extra couple of km with that off route detour. Anyway, eventually, I made it back. At the venue, there was a massage tent with masseurs offering treatment to relieve the pain, but all I wanted to do was get home. My bike bore the signs of the ride and I know it wanted a clean up.

Play dusty for me

Play dusty for me

All in all, a good ride. Pity about the poor stewarding and route marking at the end. I am comforted in knowing I was not the only lost rider.

Thanks to Shosh for the tip and the company. And thanks to Jerusalem for being such a cracking backdrop. I was too busy biking to take too many pictures, so you will have to take my word for it this time. It was lovely. (It was also hot, and uphill.)

I hope there will be another one next year and I will be able to ride it again. Next time, I am aiming to get a banana.