Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Biking into the Past Near Ramat Beit Shemesh

Since my first tricycle, I have always felt that a good bike story should start at the end. Take the ride I recently did to the Elah Fortress near Ramat Beit Shemesh. By the time I came home after the 2 hour ride, I felt awesome. High on endorphins, totally relaxed and historically inspired, I was ready to take on a whole platoon of Philistines and even Goliath himself. with the ending out of the way, I can get started on this really great bike adventure into the past.

I was reading the local Connections magazine and they had this article about an ancient fortress that was recently excavated — apparently from the time of King David or earlier. The site is referred to as the Elah Fortress and overlooks the Elah valley where young David felled the giant Goliath.

Double gate structure
The author of that article (Chaim Friedman, a local, licensed tour guide) suggested that perhaps this fortress or small city could be the as-of-yet unidentified Sha’arayim mentioned in the episode with David and Goliath. The reason for this theory is that the fortress has a double wall as well as a double gate — apparently an uncommon feature back then. And guess what…Sha’arayim means “double gate” or two gates in Hebrew.

To make a long ride short, we rode from RBS A out into the hills, past some nice Bedouins, down some insane, kamikaze hills and up some really steep, slippery single-tracks. After about an hour of fun we finally made it and walked around the ruins. We had great views of the Elah valley, Tel Azeika (where the Philistines were camped out)…and all in all, it was truly amazing to blend a good workout while getting in touch with our ancient past.

Some random biker with a green leaf on his nose for natural sunscreen (Tel Azeika in background)
Special thanks to Mike Kashnow for the photos. For more info on how to get there by bike, leave a message here on the blog and I’ll get back to you with the info. You can also have a look at the satellite photos of our ride.


  1. Zev: Nice post. Good to see that you're still using the green leaf...

  2. Nice article. Sorry I missed it. We were actually there a few months ago. It was so cool.