"One of KKL-JNF's priorities in recent years has been creating new cycling routes in its forests and parks throughout the country. The new 23 kilometer single in Adulam Park is the first cycling route to be created in its entirety by KKL-JNF. Gidi Bashan, KKL-JNF Community Forester, one of those responsible for blazing the new trail, was speaking at KKL-JNF's Givat Yeshayahu site on an overcast Sukkot morning, where the new trail was being inaugurated by a group of holiday cyclists. "Our policy is to create trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty and various lengths. Some are suitable for the entire family and some only for experienced cyclists."
Cycling has become immensely popular in Israel and the hundreds of holiday makers who converged on Adulam Park during the recent Sukkot holiday proved this to be the case. KKL-JNF organized cycling activities suited to different needs, including special activities for children.
Adulam Park, which is located in the lower Judean foothills, is one of the only stretches of virgin land left in Israel. It was KKL-JNF's gift to the people of Israel in honor of Israel's sixtieth birthday, and it afforded an opportunity for people to experience Israel's past, present and future. It is a "biospheric park", a large, interconnected unit, in which the needs of the different "residents" such as flora, fauna and human beings, are balanced so they can all survive and develop. The park includes archaeological remains from the Second Temple period and also serves as an educational focal point for students from all over the country.
Rami Gold of Kibbtz Be'eri, who led the ride and also helped plan the trail, told us about some of the considerations when planning a cycling route. "We set a certain goal and try to meet it. Here, in Adulam Park, we want to familiarize the public with the region, its archaeological sites and its local flora and fauna. Some people simply want to get out of the house, ride a bike and drink a cup of coffee in nature and for them this will be a new experience. Only one person in this particular group has cycled here in the past."
Gadi Shadmon of Ramat Gan, and his two children, Noga and Eran, agreed. "Cycling is what we love doing as a family - Eran has already done a twenty-kilometer trail. This one is great, but we do have a request for KKL-JNF: Please create more trails like this one, there really aren't enough! We come a lot to British Park and Adulam Park and we depend on KKL-JNF to keep providing us with new challenges."
Edna Feinstein of KKL-JNF's Events dept. was almost overwhelmed. "Our insurance allows us a maximum number of 35 cyclists in each group but there have been dozens more who called in and wanted to join. I told them that although they couldn't be part of this official KKL-JNF group, the routes are now meant for the public and they can cycle along them whenever they wish. They just have to remember to be careful!"
Together with the shinshinim - high school graduates who volunteer for a year of public service before joining the army - Edna organized various activities for the children, including riding bicycles over a plank, quizzes on Adulam Park, archaeological activities at the Givat Yishayahu archaeological garden, preparing water bottles for the cyclists and activities in the KKL-JNF sukkah. It wasn't, however, that simple. As she was speaking, a sudden downpour soaked everyone and postponed the opening of the activities. Nevertheless, no one was complaining! Everyone was excited - as they are every year - to see rain come pouring down early in the season, rain that Israel needs so badly.
Like many of the people at the event, Alon Reuveni of Ashdod heard about the event through KKL-JNF internet site. "Hadar, my nine year old son, has already done a 30 kilometer ride and my daughter Lila is also an experienced cyclist. We're really looking forward to today's ride and as soon as we get an email about the next ride, we'll be registering. The rain isn't going to stop us, in fact, it makes the day even more special!"
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