Desert Singletrack: Israel Part 1

Feb 5, 2014
by Sarah Leishman  
When invited on a trip to Israel to ride our bikes for 10 days in the desert, Mike Hopkins and I initially didn't take time to consider our personal politics about the issues of the region, nor did we take time to fear the dangers, sensationalized by the media, of traveling to the Middle East. We agreed that the best approach to take for this trip, to somewhere we had never dreamed of visiting in our lifetimes, was to put the widespread attitudes (be they accurate or misguided) of the region aside and approach it all with an openness to learn and try to understand an area we knew very little about.

This is the first instalment of two articles about our mind blowing trip to Israel in November of 2013.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  The Dome Of The Rock. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  Sarah sits on a doorstep in Jerusalem before wandering into Jerusalem's Old City - a place as old as human civilization. Mike Hopkins photo.

It wasn’t until Mike and I started planning our trip to Israel that we came to terms with the fact we were both laughably uninformed and uneducated about the politics and history of Israel, Palestine and its neighbours. We aren’t aligned with any particular political agenda – if you sat either of us down, you'd find that Hopkins and I both have strong views on human rights, equality and people’s equal right to their own religion. We don’t know much about war besides what we were taught in school and what we all try to digest from the mainstream media; we have no first-hand experiences of human adversity as a result of war. Hopkins and I certainly did not fully understand what has gone on in the Middle East for thousands of years before we went to Israel, and we accepted that as we prepared for our trip.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  At a coffee shop in Jerusalem. The faces of people who live here tell their own story. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo
  The Western Wall. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  The Western Wall is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith (aside from Temple Mount).

After an epic flight to Tel Aviv direct from Los Angeles, Mike and I were driven straight to Jerusalem. We had the night that we arrived and the better part of the following day to explore Jerusalem on our own. We had no plan, no idea where we were going and no concept of what we should see, but we made the most of our available 12 hours in the city by visiting Jerusalem’s Old City, The Western Wall and Mount Zion on foot. Jerusalem is an incredible, humbling place. While it is sacred to so many millions worldwide, the centre of the city has the feel of a polished European metropolis. Friendly but feral cats (one peed on my bag on our last day, so maybe not that friendly) are a common theme throughout Israel, but if you start your journey in Jerusalem, finding them circling your table at dinner is an interesting surprise. Overall, we felt incredibly safe and secure in our time in Jerusalem. We didn't see a heavy military presence in the areas we visited, and the tensions we expected in the area, while not totally invisible, were notable but not overwhelming in any way.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  On most days, you'll find the markets of the Old City like this. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  Kids coming from and going to school in the Old City. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  The Old City and its wares. Hopkins photo.

The staggering busyness of Jerusalem’s Old City during the day was then completely contrasted on our second night when we rode through the Old City on our bikes. This is totally legal and only possible at night – by day, the Old City is packed with shoppers, merchants, locals and tourists, but by night, it is empty. It was the perfect way to get a high speed (by bike), intimate look at this place as old as civilization and it felt like we had it all to ourselves. It helps to take a guide too.

Mike Hopkins photo
  Sarah sits adjacent to the Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox in Jerusalem's Old City. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  The crew takes it all in. Hopkins photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  Jerusalem's Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is made up of the Jerusalem quarter which houses the Muslim, Armenian, Christian and Jewish quarters. Hopkins photo.

Our next day had us heading out of town to ride Israel’s ancient Sugar Trail. Our friends at SabaBike describe the trail as “an old trade route that was used to transport spices and condiments up from the Dead Sea towards Jerusalem. Today, with the help of the modern mountain bike and a shuttle to the top, we enjoy the trail in the opposite direction. The Sugar Trail ride starts in Ma’ale Adumim, adjacent to Jerusalem, and you very quickly find yourself isolated and feeling like you just landed on another planet.

The Sugar Trail took us along some of the sickest singletrack we have ever seen: it ran from Jerusalem to Jericho in about 40km of effort and loosely followed the Kidron Valley toward the Dead Sea. These trails were built by camels, we were told, as the soft pads on camels' two-toed feet requires the buffest terrain possible and they tend to prefer traveling over grades in the 4-10% range. Ideal mountain bike conditions!

Mike Hopkins photo
Mike Hopkins photo.
  The beginning of the Sugar Route, complete with passersby. Hopkins photo.

We had Yoram Hen as our guide on this trip: to describe the man as a desert ninja would be an injustice to his skill set. Yoram knew every little contour of terrain on the Sugar Trail, and it seemed as though any time we were about to really have to dig and climb straight up a road, he would peel off to the right or left onto a trail with a reasonable (read: shredding) gradient. Don't be mistaken in thinking that the Sugar Route is a mellow downhill, however. We spent a solid 20km meandering through historical sites of a hugely important region of the world. At times, we were followed at full speed by angry, barking dogs from nearby properties and past nomadic peoples, and we found ourselves in a state of full-on culture shock all day long. The 30 degrees celsius heat from Israel's hottest November in years probably added to the intensity of the day too.

Mark Gasch photo
  Mike takes the hard way. Marc Gasch photo.

The skirting canyons of the Sugar Route a place where history is embedded in the stone. Hopkins photo.
  Women aren't allowed into the 1500 year old Mar Sabba Greek Orthodox monastery, but Sarah managed to ride her bike past it. This amazing piece of architecture took 50 years to build, is one of the world's oldest inhabited monasteries, and it overlooks the Kidron Valley in Palestine's West Bank. It can also be found via clever detour along the Sugar Trail, courtesy of Yoram Hen.

Mike Hopkins photo
  Our Spanish amigos Marc and Miguel round the bend on the Sugar Trail. Hopkins photo.

  Nothing like sweet little tech descents to dusty corners to compliment the best singletrack you've seen in some time. Hopkins photo.

Sarah Desert Weaving. Hopkins photo.
  Singletrack for days. We expected 4x4 roads, camels and culture. The epic-level trail network that we ended up on blew our minds. Hopkins photo.

Mark Gasch photo
  Mike gets creative. This is no Moab. Gasch photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
Mike Hopkins photo
  Corner, pedal, corner, berm, air, pedal. Sarah practices Israeli singletrack patterns. Hopkins photo.

Marc Gasch photo.
  Getting Israeli desert pitted. Marc Gasch photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.
  Sarah negotiates a loose and technical section over a "no fall zone" of Sugar Trail. No 4x4 track options here. Hopkins photo.

Rock skinnies. Marc Gasch photo.
  Speaking of no fall zones...Gasch photo.

Mark Gasch photo
  Dropping into the Kidron Valley. Gasch photo.

Mike Hopkins photo.

"Biking is our religion." Our guide for the entire trip, Nimi Cohen, coined the phrase so effortlessly at the end of our ride on the Sugar Trail that it could hardly be discounted. The sport of cycling really has a magnetic tendency to unite the people we meet just about everywhere we travel. Between the smiles of arabic-speaking camel herders we met that day, the Bedouin family we were about to meet in the days to come and countless Israeli nationals who helped us on our way (and laughed at our pasty white skin, constant grins and horrible, broken hebrew and arabic), we were constantly met with genuine friendliness, curiosity and excitement to share the story of biking in Israel. We discovered that the sport of cycling united us with people who knew nothing of our background and we of theirs. Our apprehension about this place was rooted completely in misconceptions and misunderstandings from years of being immersed in stories from western media. Israel, its terrain and its people are truly to be experienced firsthand. And it was only day one.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Desert Singletrack, as we explored further into Israel's southern deserts and uncovered more incredible riding...



Must Read This Week

136 Comments

  • + 63
 Wow. Amazing pictures, thanks for giving us a new perspective on this part of the world!
  • + 9
 I've been in Israel at a friend for 3.5 weeks to ride races, and see something of the country. Can tell it has some amazing riding and culture, howerver, i've rode in many different places there. But this article about the desert is knew to me, think this shows how diverse the riding in Israel is. Smile
  • + 30
 Our ride there last Saturday...
vimeo.com/85765324
Everybody's welcomed, and PLEASE keep this thread on MTB and leave all the other things aside this time.
  • - 8
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 1:53) (Below Threshold)
 Looking good!! What are the trails like in the Palestine?
  • + 15
 I'm with you. Please everbody, focus on MTB. Most importantly don't try to save the world by telling trolls and hecklers to shut up in more or less sophisticated ways - do not discuss with them, don't feed them. The only thing that shuts them up is not responding.

Looks like a great place to ride! The surface must be awesome for foot out flat out, looks like a flat pedal heaven Smile
  • - 8
flag barakzan (Feb 5, 2014 at 2:51) (Below Threshold)
 it is not Palestine, it is Israel!
  • + 20
 These trails may be in Israel; however, I was wondering what the riding scene was like in Palestine and whether there is a kinship among riders that transcends the troubles and shows just what a positive impact riding culture can have on healing tensions... at the end of the day, a shared interest can go a long way to overcoming archaic and foolish differences:

May the shred be with you, whatever your colour, belief or history; the past is done, but the future is ours to change
  • + 28
 jivehoneyjive, I can only tell you that in Israel, mountain biking is a shared hobby of Jews and Arabs alike. and YES, we can, and often do ride together.
  • + 1
 Thankyou yossyud, that is good to hear, hope the weather there is better than it is here at the moment and the trails are a dusty dream...

have you ever ventured through the checkpoints to ride in Palestine together?

If not, do you know anyone who has knowledge of Palestinian trails and riders?
  • + 11
 Well, no.
You can't just cross a checkpoint as you wish.
If you are talking about the east side, where the Gaza strip is, there are no places to ride there because it's located along the sea.
About the west bank (all of the Shomron Mtns) there are some trails, and people ride there together as they wish, but it's still in Israel's Authority,
Let's be honest.
We can't go cross a checkpoint and enter the Palestinian Autonomi because it's not safe. You can never know where you'd find yourself or how this visit would end.
There are still differences, and I guess they will never disappear.
But, I can tell you that as Sarah said, when it gets to the real people, the real places, the real life, eventually we're living and getting along. and riding together. and going out, having fun, work together, etc.
I prefer not to open this subject too much, but to conclude I'll say that if you want to get a clue of how life here really is, come and see for yourself.
Not the perfect world, but sure as hell not how the media presents it. and I'm talking about both sides of the story.
Promise you you'll have fun.
  • + 1
 I just switched the banks location... sorry discrete mathematics is killing me
  • - 8
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 5:38) (Below Threshold)
 Thanks for the reply Sarik, nice to hear there are warm and welcoming people all over the world Smile

Sorry to be a pest, but why isn't it safe to enter Palestinian areas... surely there are plenty of friendly Palestinians with enough money to buy quality bikes and enjoy the beautiful landscape?

More people riding = more trails being built and less barriers between people, surely?
  • + 12
 Yes, you are of course right, but as you said, there are nice people all over the world, but also bad people. here and there.
and everybody fears of the unknown, especially where you know there are infact people who want to harm you.
As we all already said, it's very hard to try and explain this situation (and even harder to live with).
We can't be naive and ignore the conflicts, but we do want to solve it.
There are truly beautiful places I visited that are in the palestinian territory which I would surly hike and ride if I could. But I can't. and it's both side's fault, espscially the leaders, media and the world's opinion.
Cause we sure as hell tired of this.

I'm stopping this pleasant conversation here, because as I said I don't think it's the place to do it. It would also be impossible to truly explain it (better than me tried and failed). We can continue talking about it in PMs or Facebook.
  • - 35
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 7:15) (Below Threshold)
 Very interesting... so, although there is no riding in Gaza, some journalists were kidnapped there: I can't help but wonder why people are driven to do such things?

If the blockade was lifted and the free transit of aid was allowed, do you think that would that go some way to easing tensions?

Am I right in thinking Israel has accepted liability for the illegal killing of 9 civilians by IDF commandos in international waters during the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza?

Whatsmore, is it true that after the raid, all passengers (including a number of prominent people from all over the world) on vessels within the flotilla were taken into Israeli custody, and had all their possessions confiscated, including the cameras and memory cards of the many journalists onboard?

www.timesofisrael.com/topic/mavi-marmara

Anyhow, this is straying a touch from the positive aspects of riding, so I'll leave this subject there for now


Shred hard and enjoy the sunshine... you wouldn't believe the size of raindrops here in Wales at the mo Smile
  • + 19
 Dude Sarik already said to PM him and that he's done having this convo on a public board. You obviously have an agenda to push here and it's apparent you're trying to draw people out with your questions. Keep that bullshit off the board and PM him or gtfo. Nobody wants the political debate here.
  • - 17
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 8:01) (Below Threshold)
 Dude, I wasn't responding to Sarik; he's made his position clear and I accept that he doesn't want to discuss it further; however, smeagul decided to further the debate, so I took the prerogative of responding with an alternate viewpoint~ if you don't want to enter the debate, you don't have to; all told, I'd say this had a bit more consequence than wheel size.

Happy Trails, whatever your wheel size and preferred suspension manufacturer Wink
  • + 7
 You were trying to get your political oppinion out from your first message but you sugar coat everything bc you're a pussy. You get your point across in the form of sinical questions and then you sign with some fake ass line about "may the shred be with you". You're a fake and you have no idea what you're talking about so stop.
  • - 8
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 14:50) (Below Threshold)
 I'm as real as they come... you may note that 'my may the shred be with you' comment was referring to the future... which is why I'm highlighting what is happening in the present, that positive change may come for all involved.

Sure, there are some ugly truths, but that is no reason not to be polite: I have no idea what any of the riders I'm conversing with have done with their lives; they may be absolute hero's for all I know, and the path to peace is mutual respect.

So ride on, think of me as a fake and a pussy if you must, but you don't know the 1st thing about me; if you did, you'll lick my balls Wink
  • + 2
 FFS it's a f*cking desert, nobody lives there anyway, who cares whether it's called Israel or Palestine? Call it Mordor if you want to...
  • + 4
 I really want to go to Israel, one of my dream places to visit, and now ride.
  • + 5
 Ignore jive.. such an obvious troll... obviously, he knows nothing about Israel.
  • - 11
flag nouser (Feb 6, 2014 at 3:49) (Below Threshold)
 Nightfox, some may see me as a troll, others as a maverick...

I am but one man, not an organization or nation, I'm not benefiting from this in a material sense and I may be doing myself more harm than good, but I'll do it anyway, because in my view, what's happening is wrong.

Of course, alone, I'll never match up to the might of the Israeli PR machine, with paid government propagandists influencing public opinion (yes, there are even people paid to post pro Israeli propaganda on internet forums) and groups such as JIDF, but at least I'll sleep sound, knowing I took a stand against a system of apartheid and persecution.
  • + 3
 Sarik, Israel is only 7 hours long and 3 hours Wide. if everyone knew the TRUTH then the place would become insanely over populated REAL FAST. I had to learn that what we have is in essence protected by the Rumors and gossip. LET IT BE....
  • + 1
 metalarc - I am intrigued...
  • + 0
 The knowledge of the fact of Israel being a Hidden Paridise needs to be Kept at a minimum or the Government will tighten up with more rules ,restrictions and instant deportations, is all I'm saying. This is advanced Warfare we are fighting nowadays, only Idiots are on the front lines getting there brains "blown out" these Days where as the smart ones are in the Back lines getting their Brains blown out :-).
  • + 13
 FYI :
Israel is not all desert, sand and camels - that's just the southern side,
60% of Israel is lush and resembles landscapes more similar to Greece etc'.
Here is a nice video from Manara cliff - located in northern Israel. enjoy !
www.pinkbike.com/news/DH-Manara-Eldad-Paturi-video-2013.html
  • + 17
 Wow! such an amazing place to ride and visit.
  • + 2
 I also rode this route and the most beautiful thing about it is that any bunch of riders have their own route - there are so many tracks and sub-singles over there so even if you ride it once it's not the same track next time.
  • + 0
 Agreed! The pics are incredible! I love the international flare too as well as imagining the feeling of adventure of a night ride in the city.
  • + 11
 Sarah that's some great writing there! (and also the photos by Mike are pretty awesome).
If you're looking for more information, you're welcome to join our facebook page for updates about rides and so on...
www.facebook.com/SababikeMTB

Regarding all things politics, while adopting prejudiced and judgmental positions on foreign situations is becoming ever more popular with the growth of social media – we believe the only way to know any place, is to experience it in person. We're very glad Sarah, Mike and some other good people decided to do so.

Keep Mountain biking above cheap politics!
  • - 20
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 5:58) (Below Threshold)
 Very well said Sababike, looks like you enjoy some wonderful riding out there... will you be offering tours in Palestinian areas, so that people can rise above cheap politics and experience it in person?

Would crossing checkpoints add to the adventure?

Share the ride Smile
  • + 6
 We would love to, there's some awesome terrain there for sure - but for now it's impossible for us with Israeli passports. European citizens for instance can ride there (if they have their bike).
Hope it will change soon and be open to all, but patience seems to be required...
  • + 10
 Also from Israel - if you're interested in spectacular frame building, this Danish/Israeli builder makes some of the most beautiful frames I have ever seen. (And they are great to ride too) - www.aricycles.com
  • + 2
 I have one of these :-)
  • + 1
 I constantly ride with his sons, which have amazing bikes. he is a very talented builder. btw, theyr'e about 11 and 8 years old (I train them). he managed to put amazing tech on 24".
  • + 1
 I always peek on his facebook page for the pictures of the bike build. I was a welder/metal worker more than a decade ago and seeing his passion for design and quality just makes me want to quit my job and get started with framebuilding.
  • + 1
 I come across him while searching for this: www.chernichovsky.com
They even link to other builders in the area. Those Segal bikes look interesting too, shop nearby used to sell them. Think there even produced here.
  • + 1
 A best friend. Very talented!
  • + 2
 There are a lot of riders on Ari bikes in my local area.
  • + 11
 While I also have strong opinion on the subject but please leave the politics out of the articles and comments and just enjoy the ride!
  • + 6
 Great article!!!
I promise you that you can contact any Israeli PB user and he/she will do their best to help you set a cool and unforgetable trip in Israel. You will be welcomed here in open arms.
There is so many good places to ride here and 320 days of riding 'couse the weather is awesom.
Leave the politics to the politicians - LET'S RIDE!!!
  • - 5
flag metalarc (Feb 6, 2014 at 6:01) (Below Threshold)
 If You have ever Served In the Army then you know that our Job is to protect Israel. the Rumors and the Gossip is there for a reason. the masses can't know the truth or there will be BIG PROBLEMS. when I saw the clip of riders going into Afghanistan I knew that it was only a matter of time before the hidden Gem of Israel would be discovered. IT IS HIDDEN FOR A REASON!. THIS ARTICLE AND THREAD NEEDS TO BE REMOVED.
  • + 1
 yes "It's hidden for a reason", like your comment.
  • + 9
 Awesome. And so much more interesting and uplifting than the endless articles about the next best products we "must have."
  • + 9
 Awsome! make berms not war
  • + 4
 Jivehoneyjive.......are you just plain stupid or a friend of protour?????

Stop the shit and talk about bikes. There are only two kinds of people, good ones and bad ones and they come in all colors, religions and nationalities.
Be one of the nice ones and tell us about your rides in the mud and rain, something not all of us enjoy.

Cheers
  • - 13
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 12:29) (Below Threshold)
 I'm just a dude who's been through some shit you wouldn't be able to imagine, who as a result, is concerned for people who are oppressed and misrepresented... you have to remember that in this world, some bad people seem good and some good people seem bad. Now I cast no judgement on any individual, but as a whole, the construction of the barrier and the bulldozing of Palestinian homes and land is a disgrace and a taint on the humanitarian virtues we are all taught... if you chose to stand by whilst apartheid is going down, so be it, but don't bitch at me for having the balls to say something. As it stands, I'm not in a position to ride, thanks to an injury which I've been working through for 9 months so far, with many months of rehab ahead... nonetheless, I like to share in other peoples enjoyment of good riding. So please, forgive my passion, but some things in this world need to be aired
  • + 13
 About not be able to imagine, I had my share of bad things but I dont bring them here, my first son died, the second one was kidnapped 10 years ago and I dont know where he is, open heart surgery and back riding and racing at my old age. USA also made a huge wall and keeps mexicans and central americans from looking for a better life in america, the world is full of ugly things and if you have the balls you talk about go to a real forum where you can make a difference or go work for the peace that the region needs but stop doing it in a bycicle webpage. In the other video posted some time ago by another Israeli guy you also just talk and talk about Palestinians, well that dosnt help, go and help them in person. I really hope you can rehab in good order and can ride again, I KNOW what is to be in bed for one year and only think about racing again.
  • - 5
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 15:50) (Below Threshold)
 Fair play lalodh, thank you for putting things in perspective... massive respect to you, I've had A LOT on my plate recently, but it pales in comparison to what you've been through... sometimes these things can be so frustrating~ I guess my aim is to raise awareness and shift focus from the brainwashing of the media as there is so much twisted propaganda these days, but at the end of the day, you're right, for real change, the best thing is a hands on approach.

Sorry if I've upset you and I hope things improve for you and your family.

And keep shredding dude, seems you're a right speedy bugger Smile
  • + 5
 Same to you, lets keep riding and having fun. Hope you get better soon and get back on your wheels.
  • + 2
 Esso es chingon!
  • + 2
 Big like lalodh, healthy riding. You are an inspiration.
  • + 6
 I was supposed to be there right now! Postponed til next year, I can't wait!
  • + 3
 You guys should visit the northern part of Israel - great for DH, AM, XC (very big here, awesome places to ride here). The region looks like Greece.
btw, there is an epic 3 day stage race in june orginized by one of the greatest people in MTB in Israel epicisrael.org.il/en
  • + 3
 Nice work leishman! It's a tough place and life ain't easy for anyone over there! Thanks for sharing the pics, made me feel like I had another trip back! I' ll share this with mom in Haifa!
  • + 3
 Anyone who does legitimate research and uses there brain for just a second will find that it is incredibly uneducated, ridiculous and naive to among many other things call Israel an apartheid state.
  • + 1
 yes... it looks like a lot of anti-Israel immigrants are posting here and neg propping these comments.
  • + 0
 The apartheid comparison kind of works. The West Bank & Gaza can be thought of as bantustans, Israel essentially controls what goes in & what goes out of both places. Uses ruthless military force to subjugate millions of innocent people (Non Jews) & continually targets non Jewish homes for demolition to then build Jewish only settlements. When we look at Israel proper, one only needs to look at the financial racism that takes place. For example, Palestinian schools in Israel receive vastly less funding that Israeli Hebrew schools & Palestinian subject matter is heavily edited by the Israelis. If a Palestinian home in Israel is damaged by an attack, no aid to rebuild is received, but if you're Jewish you will receive aid to rebuild, not to mention that government builds bomb shelters for Jewish citizens of Israel but does not build shelters for Palestinian citizens of Israel. Palestinians that still have the deeds to their homes cannot go back but Jewish people from all around the world, that have never set foot there & don't have family are free to migrate there.
  • + 0
 Palestinians are heavily discriminated against when it comes to housing as well, the fact that over 93% of state land for lease in Israel has gone to Jews (While the JNF that owns something like 13-14% of arable land will not lease land to Arabs at all) Or the fact that politicians in Israel are openly and incredibly racist, some Knesset members like to call them "Cancer" or "Infiltrators" I mean a more obvious example of white washing is simply identifying Palestinians as Arabs. Then there's the family reunification law which bars immigration by family return to couples of an Israeli citizen and a Palestinian resident of the Israeli-occupied territories. The Nakba law. The Absentee property law. And yes, there are examples of Palestinians inside Israel that aren't discriminated against, but, when you think of how few examples there are when compared to the large percentage of people they represent (1/4 of the Israeli population) then it's easy to see that it's grossly disproportionate.
  • + 3
 No too far from this place, near Eilat - see the amazing Timna single
www.pinkbike.com/photo/10573449
www.pinkbike.com/photo/10573445
  • + 1
 Is there any place to rent "Good Bikes"? We have a R&D office in Tel Aviv and when I tried to setup some riding the only thing I could find to rent was a Specialized Hard Rock. No thanks.
Been there twice in the past 3 years and if this is part 1 wow they got a lot done in a day. you could spend the whole day going through Jerusalem. Great place to visit and I did not ever feel not safe (as an African American that is saying a lot). You can feel the tension though and it is definitely different than all the western media hype. Great people all in all. Just make sure you educate yourself on the currency. Got ripped off by a cab driver because I was just looking at numbers :-0

Hope to get some riding in the next time I'm there given that I can find a decent rental. but looking at those pics I just may travel with my bike and dare to drive on those streets (had a cabbie that hit a person on a scooter and both just went about their business)
  • + 1
 yes, if you meet up with the right people. You can seek help in our FB group -> BikeTalk.
  • + 2
 thanks nightfox I will keep that in mind
  • + 0
 I am one of the BikeTalk admins. Just tag along, present yourself in English. We have a habit of taking care of tourist bikers and host them at our riding trails. Tel Aviv area if full of them. We can ride single trails for a day without gravel roads :-) There is always someone from Tel Aviv that can take you. Make sure to do it next time.
  • + 0
 hey man thanks a lot. Not sure when I will be back there (my boss just left for Tel Aviv yesterday) but I will definitely look at Bike Talk.
  • + 4
 Another fresh movie from the SugarTrail with helicam shoot out www.pinkbike.com/video/350008
  • + 1
 Wow amazing! I didn't know of this visit!

Great pictures.. I want all to know, Israel is not entirely desert, this is just one part of it. Israel is a mixed land with a cold north and very warm south, and quite metropolitan in between.

I'm just saying this to "break" a lot of people's misconception thinking Israel is just desert, like Dubai or something. It's definitely not. It's highly varied.
  • - 4
flag metalarc (Feb 6, 2014 at 6:03) (Below Threshold)
 If You have ever Served In the Army then you know that our Job is to protect Israel. the Rumors and the Gossip and misconceptions are there for a reason. the masses can't know the truth about Israel or there will be BIG PROBLEMS. when I saw the clip of riders going into Afghanistan I knew that it was only a matter of time before the hidden Gem of Israel would be discovered. IT IS HIDDEN FOR A REASON!. THIS ARTICLE AND THREAD NEEDS TO BE REMOVED.
  • + 2
 bite me.
  • + 0
 Brother, The knowledge of the fact of Israel being a Hidden Paridise needs to be Kept at a minimum or the Government will tighten up with more rules ,restrictions and instant deportations, is all I'm saying. GEEEZ!
  • + 5
 Hopkins with some great pics of his own (from behind the camera).
  • + 3
 Come to Israel!! that is a provement that you have nothing to loose! and in the article its only the south of israel, there is also very nice technical trails in the north...
  • + 2
 Politics aside, I have always been intrigued by the history of this region. Experiencing this by bike would be amazing! Thanks for this article Pinkbike.
  • + 3
 on a lighter note, brings a new meaning to wall ride
  • + 2
 Awesome Leishman! I'll share this one with mom in Haifa! Great pics I'd love to share stories one day!
  • + 3
 Dusty terrain, that's what I need! Can't stand more mud and rain...
  • + 3
 that's funny, we say the exact opposite almost all year! you are most welcome to come to Israel, with or without a bike.
  • - 1
 So happy to see riders from all over the world enjoying our beautiful country.
All the area of Jerusalem is filled with epic trails in all types and sizes - from XC to DH tracks.

It's just sad to see those teasing comments "palestine looks nice" - this is not palestine, it is ISRAEL.
The situation in Israel is quite complex. It's just hard to believe how easily people take an opinion, without having any real knowledge about the history of the conflict.
  • - 1
 You misspelled "history of conflict". Its "historiography of the conflict"...
  • + 2
 A mix of sweet trails and ancient culture. Thanx for sharing.
  • + 2
 This is not politicbike, this is pinkbike.
  • - 1
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=16b2LVxoMjA&list=PLPNV6sm9QAyakYY43Dbd1XGOI0CIZzVZQ

5:30 minutes of history.
Anyone who has a few minutes to spare, please watch this before you express an opinion.
  • - 8
flag nouser (Feb 5, 2014 at 6:42) (Below Threshold)
 That is an interesting insight into the past...

This short film shows there is hope for the future Smile


www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1wEszQYEzg
  • - 9
flag Protour (Feb 5, 2014 at 11:03) (Below Threshold)
 The first film just underscores why it was naive for the west to create Israel after WWII. Why would you put a Jewish state in the middle of a bunch of bat crazy Arab states that will of course hate it? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
European leaders tried to warn Roosevelt of the mistake, but he listened to his wife instead. Again, dumb.
Now we have one of the most dangerous situations in the world just so the Jews can have a religious home in the desert. How about if we just move the entire Isreal population to New Mexico or something, to prevent WWIII? The mountainbiking is better there.
  • + 0
 There were other choices more preferred by the UN, I think the second option was in south america. However, the Jews did not want their nation to be any where else aside from Israel. That opinion, or rather the Zionism movement, had been building strength since the beginning of the 20th century, and organizations like the JNF raised money to buy land and support Jewish settlement. During WWII, the British restricted Jewish settlement in Israel in an attempt to prevent violence in the region, even though the Jews were fleeing from Nazi Germany (the movie Exodus is good and on this topic).
on another note, many very, I mean VERY, religious Jews (Haredim, admittedly its still a small percent) do not believe that Israel is a religious state because it "has not been returned by God" (not a quote, just an elaboration) and view Israel as a secular state that just happens to have been created and governed by Jews. (I am talking about the religious significance of it)
  • + 1
 It doesn't matter what you think. By hard facts found in archaeological researches, Israel belongs where it is now. Israel in it's current form, is the 3rd Jewish autonomous. There was never an Arab state here or anything like that. I must say I'm astound by how ignorant and uneducated people are with regards to Israel.
  • + 1
 Go shred instead of sitting here and writing hate. Truth is out there.
  • + 1
 jivehoneyjive, i think this doesn't show hope for the future. i'll explain why. we, in Israel want peace and we do not want to fight. 99% of the of would rather have a normal quite life. if the government of the other side would just stop the terror and stop arming their selfs it will all end.
what this short clip shows is that israelies want peace and have an open mind about it. nothing else.

none of us are blind to see there are innocent people that suffer on the Palestinians side, but it is definitely not our fault.
  • + 0
 papir, I'm glad to hear you as an individual are looking for peace; however, I struggle to understand how it could be that the state of Israel wants peace when military service is compulsory for all citizens: not only that, but continued illegal settlements, often on land cleared by armoured bulldozers, doesn't really suggest the most peaceful of intentions.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoczZtOTn4g

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDK_smsYFMs

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlSiGO1Acr4

i.imgur.com/GMvAo.jpg

media2.policymic.com/35ce81f2145dec7b54defd851220598f.jpg

mideastposts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Palestinian-woman-weeps-as-she-stands-in-front-of-her-house-that-was-demolished-by-Israeli-army-bulldozers-in-the-village-of-Hares-near-Nablus-AFP-photo-Jaafar-Ashtiyeh-e1301898355945.jpg
  • + 1
 @jive
military service is compulsory in many other countries (though some have alternative civil service, including Israel) that have had longer periods of peace, these include Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, and South Korea. And Disregarding internal affairs the reasons for conscription for Israel and South Korea are very similar, they are bordered by hostile nations and need a military presence to protect itself. The point here is that just because a country has required conscription does not mean that they are not peace seeking.
Admittedly in Switzerland's case, conscription and geography make it so that only an idiot would try to invade.
  • + 0
 Watch 5 Broken Cameras:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K-mGWy9iUg


and let me know your thoughts
  • - 2
 I'd like to ask a simple question: who paid for this trip? A non-answer will simply confirm my worst suspicions: that the Israeli Ministry of Tourism or some organization similar to it paid for this trip in order to whitewash Israel's status as a pariah state.
  • + 2
 You are such a hater. I don't really know if they did but it is safe to assume the Israeli Ministry of Tourism did finance it, That's the way it works all over the world, not just for Israel, and for pure touristic reasons.

I don't know you or your reasons for Hating on us but I assure you that if you/people like you(Jivehoneyjive and others) look/read/search for info as for the history of any country in the world you will find out it is ruled by a few influential people/families with more money then all pink bike users combined X 100000000000. Religions,Wars,conflicts, capitalism &the financial system are all designed to turn us all into modern slaves which serve the only purpose of feeding their hunger of evil power.

The only way to beet them is if the majority of people around the world will understand that's they way things are and unite/ have the time to unite against them.

Lets be honest, chances that that day will come are soooooooooooooooooo slim that my advice to you and people like you is constant work of getting rid of any negativity in your life.

you like riding and traveling and so do I.

You are presented in this article with one of the most interesting, beautiful, compact and diversed pieces of land on this earth we Homo sapiens share life on by a cosmic chance,

Enjoy it, enjoy the ride, enjoy life- that's all we have my friend.
  • + 3
 blue-bike, you've written many truths there and for the most part I agree with you; none of us can help where we are born... for example, it would be hypocritical of me not to acknowledge Britain's history (and the part played in the formation of Israel), not to mention recent involvement in unjust wars, sold to the public on lies.

Of course, by far the best way to live life is having fun, and spreading joy and love where ever you go, but unfortunately, the world doesn't always work on that basis; after all, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

So happy trails, I hope life treats you kindly and you live it to the fullest, but always remember, there are many people who are not as lucky as you
  • + 0
 This is true, luck plays a big roll here. I am not taking it for grunted, I try to bless my relative good fortune every day and do good when ever and more importantly where ever possible.

Personally I am well aware to life, some sad truths & what makes people tick and think that in general people should focus their energy where they can serve good to others and make a real change.I get what you try to achieve but think that you are wasting energy/time where you can do very little. It's better to make small changes where you have more control on your environment.
For me its the love of mtb biking, I build pump tracks,single tracks, produce the Israeli all mountain league etc.
When ever I interact with people who have different perspective, " enemies" or such I approach with openness,kindness and care for the other, that's in my world the real change we all can make in order to change the world to be a better place.
So, not exactly doing nothing,thanks, I am a good man, fully aware and choose to do what I do every day I wake up hopefully for many years to come in good health.
I wish you all the best, and seriously if you don't come ride this piece of land in the middle east you are missing out :-)



I
  • + 1
 Why the negative props for Cristoph's question which I think was not out of place?

Blue-bike thank you for an honest answer though.
  • + 1
 You have to read what I wrote with Positive tone to it, basicly I was trying to offer a different perspective and attitude to life. and what Cristoph's wrote is not exactly a question, it is more of a misinformed\misleading statement.

Best wishes my friend.
  • + 1
 Well written Sarah. Truly a pleasure to have well written stories on Pinkbike to go along with beautiful images.
  • + 1
 Somebody please grow a tree somewhere. Oh its too hot and dry for that? I'll stay home.
  • + 2
 Yeah, nice video, especially those hips and much nicer area.
  • + 0
 There's plenty of trees. Many were planted to hide the remains of Palestinian villages and towns that were destroyed before and after the Nakba.
  • + 1
 Cool. Well written Sarah.
  • + 1
 "Western wall" ...... I thought it was called the " Weeping wall"
  • + 2
 Wailing wall?
  • + 4
 a direct translation from hebrew - "western wall", as it is believed that this is an ancient part of the wall surronding the temple area .
from it's name - this was the western part of the wall.

it is commonly reffered to in english as - the "wailing wall" , due to the tradition to direct a prayer to the wall and stuff paper notes between the rocks and in the wall cracks
  • + 1
 redbull rampage in india
  • + 0
 It looks like an awesome place to ride. Thanks for the article Lieshman.
  • + 1
 Stop feeding the jive
  • + 2
 You love it Wink
  • + 0
 Lots of tracks lots of bikes lots of fun Lots of vibe Feel free to try..
  • - 1
 Isn't that trail in the West Bank? And isn't the West Bank called Palestine?
  • - 1
 Hellybird, there is no place called Palestine.
  • - 1
 oh ok thanks papsmear.
  • + 1
 Toilet papir, park your bulldozer, it's time for tea... Mmmm... bacon
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