Day 4 — Relaxing day of Shabbot, after an early morning tour at the edge of the makhtesh, napping and doing math homework. We then attended a meeting with alumni of the Arava Institute; it was incredibly impressive the work the program does and the people it attracts.
Day 5 — The last two days of riding we rode with the Chalutzim, the group going the fastest and the longest. Today we started by descending into the makhtesh, then climbing out again, then riding through the central Negev Desert, before finally descending into the Arava valley and ending at Kibbutz Ketura, for a total of 77.5 miles, our longest day. Conditions were great, the weather has really moderated and become quite pleasant. Gabe was right in there, riding up front in a large paceline. Really strong day. One of our last rest stops was at a cafe run by an agricultural kibbutz serving organic goats milk frozen yogurt. Yum.
Day 6 — Started the day climbing out of the Arava Valley in what was clearly the most challenging climb of the ride, a peak of 12% grades and over a 1000 feet of elevation. Gabe was in the top ten riders getting to the top (of the 40 or so riders who elected to ride of the 120 overall riders), beating yours truly among others. Most of the day was climbing, until a last, very steep descent into our final destination of Eilat. Total of 57 miles. Gabe kept getting and riding stronger.
Very unfortunate crash by another rider going down the final hill, with severe injuries. Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Gabe was asked to make a few comments at the final closing dinner because he and his supporters raised more for the Arava Institute/Hazon than any rider in the history of the Israel Ride. He was great, and ended with a trademark Gabe “yeah”.
A number of the other people speaking kept referring to the Fields guy and how amazingly he rode; I had to keep remembering they weren’t talking about me! Guess I had better get used to it.