(photo credit: KKL)
KKL-JNF has added a new single-track route to the Alon HaGalil cycle path in northern Israel. The new section, which is 11 kilometers long, forms part of a 43-kilometer system of cycling trails that includes both challenging single tracks for experienced riders and family routes for beginners.
The Jezreel Valley Regional Council, the Kishon Drainage Authority and the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center all partnered KKL-JNF in this project. The entire route was constructed by physical labor alone, in order to minimize damage to the surrounding landscape. Local residents and youngsters, recruits from the nearby army base, Bedouin soldier-teachers and the children of KKL-JNF staff members all helped the KKL-JNF professionals to construct the path.
Michael Manski, one of the helpers, told us how on Fridays he and a group of friends would arm themselves with rakes and hoes and set forth to lay out the trail. “We’re proud to have taken part in this unique community project, and now we’re enjoying the fruits of our labors,” he said. “I come and cycle here often, and enjoy this beautiful trail, which I can access directly from home, and which takes me straight into the very heart of nature.”
The new single track passes through a number of remarkable sites in Tzippori Forest, which have not been accessible to the public until now, including the magnificent springs in Wadi Rimonim.
Dr. Omri Boneh, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern Region, and Eyal Betzer, head of Jezreel Valley Regional Council, within whose jurisdiction the cycle path lies, were among those who tried out the new route. “As I rode along, I came across beauty spots that even I had never seen before,” said the Regional Council head as he reached the end of the trail. “At present we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of settlement in the Jezreel Valley – thanks entirely to KKL-JNF, which acquired these lands. Nowadays KKL-JNF undertakes a variety of activities designed to strengthen the connection between the People and the Land, and the cycle paths make a significant contribution in this regard. At weekends crowds of cyclists come here not just from the surrounding area, but from all over Israel, and we are very glad to welcome them all,” he concluded.
The number of cycling enthusiasts in Israel is increasing steadily, and KKL-JNF, with the help of its Friends worldwide, is constantly building new bicycle routes all over the country, so as to tempt the public out into the forests and open spaces. Michael Weinberger, Director of KKL-JNF’s Western Galilee and Mount Carmel Region, explained that the new trail has been constructed to meet international professional standards, with bridges over the gullies and wooden supports to shore up precipitous spots along the its route.
The connections between the various bicycle paths allow cyclists to pick the route that suits them best, without inconveniencing other users. Future plans include linking the Alon HaGalil trails to those of the nearby town of Kiryat Ata, an innovation that is expected to attract even greater numbers of cyclists to the area.
Lior Nevo of Kiryat Bialik is a hi-tech specialist who maintains that he finds true relaxation from the stresses of his job only when out cycling. “I’ve been riding a bike for fifty years now,” he says, “and in recent years we’ve got a lot more new routes to travel, thanks to KKL-JNF.”
The inauguration ceremony for the new route was held on a Friday pleasantly
warmed by a wintry sun, and it was attended by hundreds of cycling enthusiasts who had come along to thank those responsible for constructing the path – and also, of course, to take a trial spin along the newly-opened route.
Drainage Authority Director Haim Hemi told those assembled: “This cycle path was made possible because of a collaboration between a number of different organizations, including KKL-JNF, which is responsible for the care of open spaces.”
Alon HaGalil Committee Chairman Asaf Primer added: “A single track sounds rather lonely, but the truth is that you’re not alone on the track at all – you’re part of nature and a member of the cycling community.”
Dror Brailovsky, Director of the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center and one of the initiators of the new cycle track, said that work on the trail had been a remarkable experience. “For eight years we dreamed of this path,” he said, “So this is a very exciting moment indeed for all of us.”
Eighteen-year-old Ran and Aner played an active role in constructing the single track, and were presented with a certificate of appreciation at the inauguration ceremony. “When we were only six years old we used to improvise our own trails, digging water holes and riding through them madly on our bikes,” said Ron. “Years have passed since then, but I’m still crazy about cycling, and I’ve even gone back to building trails. It’s great to see so many cyclists coming here to enjoy this track that I’ve helped to make, but the really big source of satisfaction is riding along it myself!”
But it wasn’t only youngsters who turned up for a trial spin along the new route. The eldest participant on opening day was 79-year-old Dr. Tzvika Ehrlich, from Tivon. “There were a few youngsters here who complained that they found the route a bit difficult,” he said. “Perhaps they’ll find it easier when they reach my great age. We’ve got a cycling group that was founded by pensioners, and, thanks to KKL-JNF, we’ve got lots of opportunities to cycle to interesting places and rediscover our beautiful Land of Israel.”
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