Sunday, May 30, 2010

Riders in the Night - Moonlit Mountain Biking near Bet Shemesh

Chaim Wizman, resident of Bet Shemesh, to the right of Meir Sallem
This past Thursday night, I and roughly 75 people from the Bet Shemesh area gathered at the Al Derech Burma bike shop off of Highway 38. We were all gathered to bike into the night on a full-moon ride sponsored by Al Derech Burma. The ride was free and open to riders of all levels (there were even some kids who joined), and really was loads of fun.

Even thought the ride was called for 9 PM, I left Ramat Beit Shemesh at about 8:20 PM. That way I had enough time to unload my bike from the car, put it back together, get geared up with headlights (available at the store from between 50 NIS to 300 NIS), and buy some energy snacks. (For those without bikes, the store rents out bikes and helmets, so you can join as well.)

I had never gone riding at night before, and even though I have been braving the steep hills around Ramat Bet Shemesh, the thought of riding in the dark got my pulse going. As Chaim Wizman, owner of Al Derech Burma puts it “running or riding at night is a primal experience”. (As an aside, Chaim actually ran the entire time with us.)

After everyone was basically set up, we decided to pray for our lives, and with more than enough men for a Minyan, we set our bikes down and poured out our hearts during Arvit/Maariv.

After praying, we listened to the rules from Alon (the amazing bike mechanic dude) and Chaim, and then hit the road.

All my apprehensions evaporated with the thrill of riding in the pleasant moonlit evening. Being with friends and many familiar faces made it a unifying social experience in addition to a great workout.

One of the “highlights” for me was discovering (thanks to Donny Fein) that my headlight was adjustable and could actually be pointed down toward the ground. Now I could see the rocks before I crashed into them.

About halfway through we stopped to wait for some biker MIA’s and Chaim told us about the creation of the Burma Road during the War of Independence and the heros involved in it. We were actually riding on it for part of the time, and it was truly amazing to think that even sports and recreation in Israel, is so intertwined with our history. From that point on, we rode with a few short breaks, past fields filled with bales of hay, and forests echoing our laughter.

To make a long blog short, 3 or 4 steep hills and 18 kilometers later, we were back where we started (at the bike shop) and for those who made it in time, cold watermelon was served.

To find out more about the next ride, call the store or check back here mid-June.

Updated: Night ride on Thursday, June 24, 2010, leaving the shop at 8:30 PM.


  1. Nice. Are you riding with a camelbak? I usually take one on long runs, and I used to have a problem with leakage (also) until I realized how to lock it properly. It has been serving me well ever since.

  2. As you surmised from my shirt, my camelbak was leaking badly. How can I tell if it's broken or just needs to be locked properly?