saul on bike 298.88.
(photo credit: )
I'm writing on a wet pad of paper. It is wet because it was in my bag, which was sitting in the pouring rain while we stood, some 500 people, with our bicycles, getting as wet as our bags.
We stood and listened with one ear, as we stamped our feet to keep warm, on Jerusalem's Mt. Scopus. Maybe with half an ear, since it was hard to pay attention to the assorted congratulations we were prematurely receiving for the five-day bike ride we were about to embark upon from this soaking parking lot to Eilat.
What are minds were on was the pending prospect of plunging steeply from one of the highest points in Israel to the lowest place in the earth - the Dead Sea. The trepidation of doing this on a wet road in a rolling crowd of 500 people was more than compensated for by prospects by exchanging Jerusalem's freezing rain - in a matter of minutes - for the blazing sunshine of the desert that comes right up to the city's doorstep.
Well, it didn't exactly work that way. When we rode through the new tunnel which connects the city on one side with the desert on the other, it was still raining on the other side. The rain continued as we rolled down past Ma'aleh Adumim, on and off past the "Sea Level" marker (still with that trusty camel next to it for the tourists), past amused Beduin and police watching the spectacle.
The rain picked up again as we left a rest stop at the Dead Sea itself. It was a strange sight, the usually parched landscape shadowed by soggy gray clouds. The mountains of Jordan donned the steely blue color of the sea and sky, while the Israeli side, for some reason, retained its gritty red color, standing out like the retouched part of a photograph that has one element in color, but is mostly black and white.
By 3:30 pm, after riding 67 kilometers, we reached the youth hostel at Ein Gedi, hot and sweaty from climbs in the road that one tends not to notice when driving the same road by car. It was hard to remember, in our t-shirts and shorts, the shivering damp of a few hours before.
The biking part of my first day on my second participation in the annual charity ride for Alyn hospital is over. Now the Jordanian coastline was painted sunset red, and the clouds parted to reveal the cleanly rinsed blue sky.
There hadn't been any major accidents coming down the hill - something not to be taken for granted considering the conditions. Tomorrow we continue south, while climbing back up just about the entire elevation we descended today.
The 2005 ride