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Cycling In Israel

Ramah Israel Bike Ride 2015

Ramah Israel Bike Ride 2015

Over the past twenty years I’ve spent a good deal of time photographing archaeological sites in the Levant (the countries of the eastern Mediterranean—Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, etc.). Unfortunately, camera equipment leaves little room for cycling gear, so I have rarely had the opportunity to ride a bike in the countries I visit, though I have occasionally been able to rent a cheap bike from a hotel. I just got back from Israel—and while I didn’t see a lot of cyclists there, I did run into some folks associated with the Ramah Israel Bike Ride 2015. This fundraising effort supports special needs programs for individuals with Down Syndrome, Autism, and a variety of other developmental and physical disabilities.

Judging from the bikes I saw these folks riding, most of them were not avid cyclists, but their dedication was remarkable! I met some of the riders at the ancient site of Gamla in the western Golan Heights—it was 104 degrees in the shade! As I was walking toward the archaeological site I saw several young women in cycling jerseys coming towards me—I asked if any of them spoke English and was surprised when they answered “yes.” Two lovely young women told me about their fundraising efforts and I told them I much I envied them for being able to ride in such a remarkable place! Apparently their group had stopped at this site because it was one of the few places in that area that had semi-proper restrooms available. Gamla is now a national park in Israel and a great place watch Griffon vultures as they catch the updrafts from the nearby cliffs where they nest.

A Roman Catapult Overlooking Ancient Gamla

A Roman Catapult (Scorpio) Overlooking Ancient Gamla (the Sea of Galilee is in the background)

By the way, if you have never heard of Gamla before don’t feel bad—unless you are a student of either Roman military history or Jewish history you’re probably not going to read about Gamla in your normal course of events. For the record, Gamla was the site of a month-long Roman siege during the Jewish Revolt of A.D. 67 (or, if you are Jewish, the Great Revolt of 67 C.E.). Over 9,000 Jews died at Gamla—a place where the unstoppable might of Vespasian’s legions met the heroic zeal of the Jews. Rome won that round (but their empire has long since been laid to rest).

In the next article I will get back to publishing product reviews!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Meet The Dog That Saved Our Son’s Life

Hearing Ear Service Dog

Derby the Wonder Dog!

It has been eight months since I last posted anything on this blog. As I explained at the time, our oldest son was seriously ill and could not be left alone, so I did what any parent would do—I gave up cycling, blogging and a lot of other things to make sure that either my wife or I could be with our son at all times.

Though he only looks like a student in junior high school, our son is now 36 years old. He was born with multiple birth defects as a result of German Measles (Rubella). Before he was born someone with German Measles got near my wife during her second trimester and our son was born with all of the normal problems that accompany congenital rubella syndrome (deafness, partial blindness, heart abnormalities, developmental delay and a host of other conditions). Last August his health took a serious turn for the worse and he gave up on living—he got down to 98 pounds and was refusing to eat. By the way, if you are one of those people who think that vaccines were concocted by pharmaceutical companies just to fleece people out of their money, let me say this kindly, you are a profound idiot.

My last post was on September 5, 2014—that was the day after we adopted a black Labrador Retriever named Derby. The dog was only nine months old when we adopted him, but this canine has truly saved our son’s life! Derby, like most Labrador Retrievers, was a “high energy” dog when we brought him home and I knew he was going to be a handful. We hired a dog trainer to get him under control, and after a few lessons we decided to pay to have him trained as a Service Dog (a “hearing ear dog” in our case). Last month Derby finished his training and now accompanies our son everywhere. This dog is the reason our son gets out of bed in the morning and is his closest friend.

Derby is such a wonderful companion and faithful friend that we now feel comfortable leaving our son in his care. As a result, the first week of April I was able to ride a bicycle for the first time in over six months! The first few rides were short and slow, but I have worked my way back up to medium-length rides (50 to 60 miles each) a few times a week. Hopefully, I will be able to go on longer rides real soon.

Going back to the bike shop after such a long absence seemed strange, but I felt at home within a few minutes. Hopefully I will be able to resume writing product reviews in June.

Take care and ride safely!

 

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I Shall Return!

It has been a while since I’ve posted any new product reviews on this blog so I thought I’d give you a quick explanation. Our oldest son is 35 years old and was born with multiple birth defects. Our hope and dream has always been that someday he might be able to live on his own (and that’s what he wants as well). Unfortunately, recently he has experienced some serious health issues and we now realize that this particular dream will probably never happen. While he has come a long way from where he started, he still has a lot of physical hurdles in front of him and will have to live with us for the rest of his life.

While I have several reasons for trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, our son is definitely at the top of the list! The quickest way to bring either my wife or myself to tears is to ask what is going to happen to our son when we are gone. We both try to stay as healthy as possible so that we can put off finding out the answer to that question as long as possible.

As our son is recovering from his most recent setback I am going to stop writing for a little while, but in the words of General Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return!” See you soon!

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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I Am Going To Miss You Anna!

anna Getting Ready For RAGBRAI

Getting Ready For RAGBRAI

For the past five summers I’ve ridden with Anna, a female cyclist who lives near me, as she trained for RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). Anna is not only a great athlete, but she has also written several product reviews for this blog as well (Lululemon Cycling Clothing, Panoptx 7Eye Briza Women’s Cycling Sunglasses, and Sip, Clip and Go Coffee). Before our first ride this summer Anna informed me that she and her husband will be moving out-of-state before long, so this would be our last year of cycling together. Even though I ride with a lot of different cyclists every year, both male and female, I am really going to miss riding with Anna!

I remember the day I met Anna quite well—I had just returned from several weeks of photographing archaeological sites in the Middle East the day before and was not only tired, but my legs were stiff from being confined to a small vehicle for a few weeks and then cramped into an airplane for the 21-hour trip back home. I was only a few blocks away few my house when I got passed by a young blonde woman who passed me like I was sitting still! No one ever likes getting passed on a bike, but getting passed by a woman was more than I could bear (sorry folks, I’m Old School). It took me a mile to catch up to her and I just said, “You caught me sleeping” as I passed her. Two miles later I stopped for some road construction and Anna pulled up next to me and introduced herself—then asked about what route I was taking and asked if she could join me. Since then we have ridden a lot of miles together between the time in mid-June when she gets out of school (she is a teacher) and the time she leaves for RAGBRAI.

I am not sure where she is moving to yet, but I am certain she will find someone else to ride with her next year as she prepares for RAGBRAI (she goes every year). Therefore, I would like to give that person a warning: Hiding behind that lovely smile Anna has a mean streak. Over the years I have learned that you should never tell her that you don’t feel well or that you are tired. When you say, “Anna, my legs are sore so let’s take it easy today,” she hears, “Anna, drop down into your aerobars and set a pace that will make me puke before we hit 20 miles!” Last year I had to spend a few months off the bike due to a medical problem and then ended up having surgery on my esophagus just a week before I met up with Anna for our first ride of the summer. A few miles into the ride I told her I was having trouble keeping up with her because of the surgery—she just smiled and said, “Just sounds like an excuse to me!” Like a gladiator in the Colosseum—no mercy expected and none given!

If you are one of the thousands of cyclists heading out to Iowa next week for RAGBRAI you can look for Anna in her “Team Big” jersey. If you see her, please tell her “Hello” for me!

Anna, I wish you well wherever you and Nate end up moving to. May the wind always be at your back!

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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3,000 Miles Down

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A few months ago I mentioned that the first 1,000 miles of the year are the hardest—at the time I didn’t know how difficult the second 1,000 miles was going to be! My first 1,000 miles for this year were all in the snow, while the second 1,000 miles seemed to be all going into a strong headwind (I live in the Chicago area). Fortunately, the third 1,000 miles proved to be a lot easier and this morning I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. For the past several years I have averaged a little over 6,000 miles of cycling per year. Last year I was just one short bike ride away from 5,000 miles because I had to take some time off the bike due to surgery (and then I was rather slow for a while during recovery). The brutal winter we had this year has put me seriously behind my normal schedule and it is rather doubtful that I will hit 6,000 miles this year.

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

This morning I rode with a friend of mine, Anna, and she had a visit from the Puncture Fairy about 50 miles into our ride. I am not sure what Anna did to tick off the Puncture Fairy, but she double-flatted today!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey From Tribesports

Several months ago the folks from Tribesports asked me to review one of their new cycling jerseys. I warned them at the time that it would be a while before I could review a summer cycling jersey since the Chicago area was in the middle of their worst winter in recorded history. Warm weather has finally arrived (about three months late) and I’ve now had a chance to ride several hundred miles while wearing this jersey. Here’s the bottom line: If you want a sharp-looking, professional quality men’s cycling jersey at a great price, then head over to Tribesports and order one today. If you need a bit more information before placing your order, then continue reading this article!

Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

Out of the more than 400 product reviews I’ve written in the past few years I’ve never used photos supplied by the manufacturer before. However, today I am going to use them because this jersey is so beautiful that the review deserved better photos than I could take (black clothing is really hard to photograph). The Tribsports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey is incredibly well designed—in fact, I believe it even exceeds that of a top-end Pearl Izumi jersey. This jersey is designed for warm weather cycling and has breathable moisture wicking fabric that pulls moisture away from your skin for quick evaporation, along with ample ventilation under the arm pits to keep your cool. The fabric is a 4-way stretch material (88% polyester, 12% spandex), and is given an antibacterial coating during the manufacturing process to help keep odors down.

Tribesports Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

This premium jersey has several nice touches that separate it from most of the jerseys you will find at your local sporting goods store. First, the two rear cargo pockets are noticeably deeper than any of the other jerseys I own (8″ deep by 5″ wide). In addition, there is a 5″ deep zippered pocket on top of the right rear pocket. A silicon rear hem grip will keep the tail of the jersey in place (and it works extremely well). There is also 360 degree reflective piping to help cars see you in low-light situations (but don’t forget to put a trail light on your bike as well!).

This jersey is available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL). I believe this jersey is true to size, but slightly tighter than a standard Pearl Izumi jersey, so if you are on the borderline between two sizes I’d go up not down in size. I own over 60 cycling jerseys (yes, I am a collector) and the Tribesports jersey than is more comfortable than his one costs nearly twice as much!

Tribesports Men's Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey

Tribesports is a fairly new company (just three years old), and they only sell through their website. They do not have any retail outlets, television ads, or celebrity endorsements. As a result, their overhead is lower than most other sporting goods manufacturers and they pass the savings on to their customers.

The only thing I did not like about this jersey is that the primary color is black. Black fabric absorbs heat, so I would never wear it when the temperature was in the 90’s (and that’s not been a problem this year). Also, while riding on the road I prefer to wear hi-vis yellow jerseys for easier visibility.

The Tribsports Men’s Performance Cycling Jersey retails for $80, but if your “join the tribe” you get a 15% discount off all listed prices. The membership is free and it took me less than one minute to join (all they need is your name, address, phone number, and email address). So, with the discount this beautiful jersey can be yours for only $68, and Tribesports offers free shipping on all orders over $65.

 

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I’m Not Dead Yet

Surly Necromancer Pugsley Fat Bike

My Surly Necromancer basking in the sun along the Des Plaines River in Illinois

It has been nearly a month since my last post and in the past few days I’ve received a few letters from fellow bloggers who were wondering if I was OK. Well, in the words of the poor guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead.” In fact, I feel better than I have in many years.

Everyone in the Midwest knows how brutal this past winter was (second highest snowfall in Chicago history along with the coldest four-month period in Chicago history). About a month ago a really strange thing happened—I got up one morning and there was a really bright light up in the sky and it was giving off heat! It was such a strange sight that I almost called the police department, but a friend told me that it was something called “the sun.” It was such a pleasant thing that I got on my road bike and haven’t done much else since then (which explains why I haven’t been writing articles for this blog).

My first 1,500 miles for the year were all done on the snow and ice—which means that I rarely saw any other cyclists. However, now that the sun is out all of those wimps who spent the winter inside riding their bikes in the basement are now back on the roads (heaven help us all).

In a few days I will be publishing a review of the Tribesports Cycling Jersey—it is an extremely high-quality jersey that sells for an unbelievably low price.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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