Friday, January 15, 2010

Bicycling Along Route 40

The area around Mitzpe Ramon is well known as a bicyclists haven, offering much to road and off-road bikers alike. While driving Pam to Be'er Sheva earlier this week I spied what at first looked like a family of Bedouins moving their entire household, waiting for a bus by the side of Route 40. As we approached in our car, I saw that this was a pair of road bikers carrying the largest load I have ever seen on a touring bike. Each bike had front and rear panniers filled to overflowing with clothes, with a large amount of goods on the rear racks as well. One of the bikes, in addition, was towing a trailer, whether carrying more goods or a child/children I do not know.

They had stopped at the end of a long down hill run, which as we crested the hill, gave way to an even longer uphill run before it. Mitzpe Ramon is at an elevation of 900 meters, Be'er Sheva some 80 kilometers away, is at 200 meters, so it is quite an uphill haul going into Mitzpe Ramon. Truth be told, the road looks uphill to me in both directions from a car. In any case, there are alot of uphill grinds in both directions, regardless of the general gradient.

Winter is probably the only time of year most bikers could do this route, since the 100 degree temperatures in the summer must make this kind of riding dangerous. Route 40 itself is no picnic on a bike, since it is a well-paved two lane highway with cars usually doing well over 100 kph. I was doing 110 kph when we encountered this sight, which is why I have no photos of it. I have no idea what became of this pair. They were long gone when we returned many hours later at night.

We did see a lone biker with a back-pack and lights on our night-time return. This seems like a really dangerous place to be at night, but there he was anyway.

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