The Outlier - Israel's Samarathon Stage Race

Apr 15, 2018
by Mike Levy  




There are plenty of mountain bike stage races to choose from if you're the kind of rider who enjoys suffering for longer than what a normal, single-day cross-country event can provide you with. Want to race for days on end in Europe? Go ahead and choose from any number of events and festivals. Looking for huge miles and to compare yourself against some of the fittest in the world? There's a little thing in South Africa called the Cape Epic that you might want to check out. Technical singletrack the priority? There's only one BC Bike Race in the world.

But what if you want to take part in a race that's truly out there, and where the culture and history are just as interesting as the trails? Israel's three-day Samarthon stage race is like no other, a true outlier of an event. And much like the swooping Israeli singletrack that's been carved into the rocky terrain with only hand tools, the Samarathon requires a hard-nosed approach and a physical toll to be paid.






If you're anything like me, I'm willing to bet that you have an imaginary short list of places that you'd love to visit with your mountain bike. Whistler is probably on it, of course, and depending on how and what you like to ride, you might have some European and North American dream destinations to check-off as well. You probably don't have Israel written down, though, not even on your long list of possible countries to bring a mountain bike to. And if I'm honest, neither did I.

You don't exactly need to be a scholar to know that the Middle East is steeped in the kind of history that makes North America look like a relative newborn child but, surprise surprise, it turns out that Israel is also home to some truly biblical singletrack.


Samarathon
Mike Levy photo

Now, I didn't know that before I boxed up my cross-country machine and flew from Vancouver to Tel Aviv for the three-day Samarathon stage race, but I did know that the constant mix of rain and snow pounding southwestern British Columbia this winter was close to making me lose my already tenuous grip on sanity. No, I probably wouldn't have strangled an innocent if I didn't get away from the miserably gray conditions, but I also can't say that I wouldn't have. I don't own a crystal ball, after all.

The Samarathon stage race, masterminded by Nimi Cohen and Yaron Deri is in its fourth year of existence, and its Middle Eastern location makes it a prime winter event for those close by or a bit farther away in Europe. As for my teammate Wayne and I? That's sixteen-hours sitting in the steerage section of a Boeing while eating tiny bags of nuts; a relatively small price to pay for three days of racing in the warm temps and sun of the Negev and Southern Arava desert. Really, it's worth it for the hummus alone.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race
Nimi Cohen
Samarathon
Yaron Deri (right)


The three consecutive days of racing that are squeezed into the Samarathon add up to around 200km of full-tilt desert action, with the first stage being a 69km doozy with 920 meters of climbing and about 40-percent of it being on singletrack. Those numbers might not sound all that impressive, but saying that the Samarathon's ascents are kinda steep is a bit like saying that drinking chain lube is only kinda bad for your health. Shade? Ha, I don't think so, you pasty Canadian. With a complexion so pale that people have described me as translucent, I knew that the sun would be just as much of a challenge as the climbing grades.

The second day is the Queen stage, with 76km of racing and 1,230 meters of climbing, but just 30-percent of the day spent on singletrack. Stage three is a comparative walk in the park after that, at just 56km and 860 meters of up to tackle, with a singletrack ratio of 25-percent.

I bet I know what you're thinking: ''40, 30, and then just 25-percent singletrack on each of the three days? That's not enough, Levy.'' And I would have agreed with you before I took part for myself. Truth is, I did close to zero homework on the Samarathon before my partner and I landed in Tel Aviv two days before the event, but that's usually how I prefer to do things. Life is more interesting that way, isn't it?


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


The Negev and Southern Arava deserts are not the kind of places where one simply rakes in some new singletrack over one afternoon. No, trails here are hard-earned, possibly more so than anywhere else on earth. Any life-long desert-dweller will tell you that builders who call this type of terrain home have to fight for every inch of flow, every meter of foot-wide singletrack, and while a BC resident like myself can start to take trails for granted if we're not careful, every kilometer of singletrack is practically a national treasure to mountain bikers in the desert.

And while there may not be an overabundance of it in the Samarathon, it's all incredibly well-built and well-thought out. After all, if you're slaving away under the desert sun in triple-digit temps to move boulders, and your main weapon is a pick-ax, you don't simply head off into the blazing hot ether all willy-nilly style.

No, you only do that if you're an eager-to-burn Canadian with heavy winter legs who's just happy not to be riding on Watopia for yet another trainer session.






Samarathon
Mike Levy photo

The Samarathon is based out of Timna Park, in the southern Arava desert, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from the Ben Gurion Tel Aviv airport. This is where three-hundred racers (one hundred and fifty teams) call home for each night of the event, and you should think of it as a sort of desert oasis / basecamp that includes its own artificial lake (but don't swim in it), more Israeli food than you know what to do with, live music, and even a pub.

Accommodation can be two or four-person rooms, a shared Bedouin-style tent that the event provides for that authentic feel, or you can bring your own tent if you're not the sharing type and you know that hummus gives you the toots. Sorry, Wayne.
Samarathon Mountain Bike Race

We arrived at Timna Park quite late and in a travel-induced haze, so our first views of the surrounding area, which includes the world's oldest copper mine, came early the next morning when we both woke at 4am in a jetlagged fog that could only be sorted out by an embarrassingly large amount of pre-race breakfast food and the intensity that comes with the first thirty minutes of a cross-country competition.

With the early parts of all three stages using gravel roads to sort out the day's pecking order, it was vitally important to latch onto the lead group's rear wheels when racing into the hot desert wind. And don't be mistaken: some of these guys have monster motors that dwarf my lil' 49cc lungs and legs. Contact with the top twenty was quickly lost, of course, but I let the second group drag me up towards the day's first major climb, a pitch of singletrack that's unlike anything I've been faced with before in all my travels.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


While there was plenty of time spent on authentic Nakebs (camel trails), the first serious climb of the event was snaking, stepped singletrack that was somehow bench-cut into what is essentially a giant rock mesa. By hand. Hand. Local rules keep builders from using gas, or even battery-powered, machinery, so this 450-meter test of legs, lungs, and technical skill was literally built by pure manpower and handtools.

And many men didn't have the power or skills to clean it - by the time Wayne and I got there, most racers ahead and behind us were pushing their steeds up the towards the crest without shame.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race
Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


It's a long day, don't forget, and those who've done any stage racing know the importance of picking their battles. I've done my share of multi-day events, but that's never stopped me from being an idiot. While I cleaned the majority of the climb (the rock steps knocked my ego down a few notches), I paid for the effort an hour on when my hamstrings decided to string me up for dead under the desert sun. Images of my bleached bones in the sand crossed my vision, but Wayne pulled my sorry ass along until I could get my shit back together.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


Cramps aside, day one was eye-opening, to say the least. Not only was the first major singletrack climb technically challenging, the fast, rolling desert singletrack afterward will make a fit racer feel like they have more ponies than they actually do. You want to carry your speed up and over rises, air into blind washes (against your better judgment), and drift through cat litter-covered corners just past the edge of traction. It was a hoot, and it was everything that's good about cross-country racing.

There were some ripping descents, too, but I won't lie to you: while those not familiar with desert riding will find them fun and interesting, most are relatively short and packed full of slow-moving racers with far more fitness than finesse.

An a*shole like myself will have plenty of fun passing racers who think they're not holding anyone up, especially if you're not adverse to the odd questionable line or ten. Or twenty. Yeah, I'm that guy with his elbows out, and you probably would be as well - the singletrack is just too damn fun not to charge full steam into - so don't judge me too harshly from atop your high horse. In fact, while I was a bit frustrated at first, having to pass so many big motors on the downhills made the day one of my most memorable on a bike, and both of us were wearing foot-wide shit-eating grins by the time we rolled into the finishing corral later in the day.

If that's how you judge how well your day was, I'd say that the grit in my smile meant that ours went quite well.
Samarathon Mountain Bike Race

Day two came with a 5:45am trip to the remote start line aboard a bus, which isn't a problem in the slightest if your brain and body are still on BC time. Unfortunately, overnight rains meant that the possibility of a flash flood (yes, I'm serious) was a very real thing, so the start was delayed by an hour or so while the organizers made sure none of us sausage suit bandits would get washed away. I'd say that's fair.

After the delay, it also started with another gravel road roll-out to spread the pack out as the three hundred racers headed into nearly 80km of racing. Caution was the name of the game for me and my crampy gams, as I long ago learned that you can't win an endurance event in the first hour, but you sure as hell can fall apart later on.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


There was less singletrack on the second day, sure, but a lot of the first half of the stage felt like it was spent in a high-speed paceline on trail that was mere inches wide and lined with rocks looking for any excuse to stop your fancy carbon crankarms from spinning. A crash here wouldn't have been pretty. Equal parts scary and fun, it paid to be at the front of the group given that handling skills didn't seem to be too high on most riders' priority list.

When 76km goes by like 30, you know that it's been a hell of a good day, which it was for us. It was also the first time in my life that I had four servings of food for dinner, which probably says something in itself. I don't think they have donuts in Israel, though.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race
Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


Day three was difficult. It was the shortest, yes, but that just meant that the pace was faster. With the most gravel road of all three stages and strong headwinds that had more in common with a brick wall than a breeze, the final stage of the Samarathon was all about picking a fast group to head into the long road sections with. I did my best to wreck our day, though, by taking some irresponsible chances on a rowdy, rocky descent that, as my much smarter teammate had warned me about, would only result in a flat tire.

And that's exactly what happened, with a sharp rock making short work of my rear Ikon's casing to the point that no amount of super-glue could sort out. A tube it was, which meant that I needed about 900 psi in it, because who the hell remembers how to ride with tubes? Not me, that's for sure.


Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


A rush flat fix, mostly done by my teammate because I was too flustered and hot to use my fingers, saw us then latch onto the back of a small group just before we popped out onto a doozy of a gravel road. From there, we leap-frogged up from group to group until we ran out of steam and found ourselves barely able to hold onto the asses of a very nice party of sporty men who didn't mind us being wheel sucks for a while. So that's exactly what we did, for what seemed like ages.

You know when you can't talk because you're too shelled and anything you'd say would sound like gobbledegook anyway? Yeah, that was me. Hot gel packages tasted like perfectly cooked steak, and my warm sports drink was surely an ice cold Bud Light Lime. The desert does funny things to one's mind, doesn't it? The wind was as real as it gets, though, no doubt about that.

I overheard some moaning about the amount of gravel road we faced on the third day, but bike racing is, at least to me, all about dealing with challenges as best you can and getting on with it. My ol' roadie legs also enjoy the strategy that comes with some gravel grinding, and it's the type of setting that really punishes those who sit on the front and try to flex for the group.

Me? I'll take my pull when it's called for, of course, but I was very aware that the third day finished with a whack of desert singletrack back into Timna Park. Not as dumb as I look, eh?
Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


My partner in crime and I jumped from the group just as we hit the singletrack, both unsure if we had the legs to stay away or not for the remaining 10km. Thankfully, the rest of the band had been eager to muscle into the wind, which didn't leave them with much gas when things got skinny. We didn't have much gas, either, but it turned out that those steak and BLL-flavored ride snacks provided just enough fuel for us to roll into Timna Park looking much faster than we actually were.

Hell of a way to finish off a hell of an event.






Okay, I'll make a sweeping statement and say that I'm well aware that the majority of Pinkbike's readers aren't the type to go stage racing, or at least not cross-country stage racing. Enduro? Sure, all damn day. But logging big miles against Lycra-clad competitors who know their FTP, own a dozen pair of bib shorts, a tube of strange cream for their taint, and routinely weigh themselves to make sure they haven't gained a quarter pound? Er, maybe not.



Samarathon Mountain Bike Race


But you don't need to do any of those weird things to know that singletrack is what makes our little world tick; it's why we do what we do, and getting your tires on new-to-you singletrack is, for many of us, our reason for being. Okay, I know that I'm luckier than a pig in shit to call southwestern BC home and, because of where I live, I only need one hand to count how many times I've been to other places in the world and genuinely found myself blown away by the quality of the trails. I guess I'm like the kid who grew up in a candy store, only my candy is near-endless BC singletrack. But I also realize that's not representative of the rest of the world, obviously, which is why it's aways so special when my lucky ass stumbles upon the hard work of builders who've created something special.

Much of the singletrack that we raced on during the Samarathon is exactly that: something special. It's been fought for against immovable rocks and impossible grades, against a sun that's unrelenting, and many would say against the odds.


Want to know more?
The Samarathon Stage Race
Samar Desert Adventure
Botz Adventures Guiding
Timna Park






Must Read This Week

168 Comments

  • + 37
 I was very fortunate to do this race last year with my good friend Eran who invited me and twisted my arm to come over (he lives in Israel). It's probably one of the coolest races I have ever done - the history, scenery, and people all make for a great event. I traveled from Colorado for this event and have absolutely no regrets. One note and I don't see this mentioned was that this area was owned by King Solomon and those were his copper mines. So much history. If you have an extra day or two, you are on the border with Jordan, Egypt, and you get to travel thru the Dead Sea. So cool, highly suggested event if you have the adventure. I felt more comfortable in Israel than I do in many parts of the US for those thinking it's a war zone, etc. based on the childish comments.
  • + 25
 Agreed, I never once felt unsafe in Israel, and I give it a 50/50 chance that I get mugged walking to the corner store here in Canada. And the singletrack! There isn't a ton of it, but damn is it good.
  • + 12
 @mikelevy: next time your over check out the north, lots of single track up there.....also you have to do the sugar trail Smile
  • + 4
 @daviebin: exactly!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: oh so you moved to Vernon!
  • + 23
 Love the article, love the pictures, love the story, I would love to do that race one day. Hate all of the ignorant and anti-semitic comments. Please find another platform to spread your hate and educate yourselves.
  • - 4
flag imho4ep (Apr 15, 2018 at 18:56) (Below Threshold)
 how is it hate? this about standing up for a nation of people that are being brutalized, robbed and marginalized. how is it anti-Semitic, the Palestinians are Semites too, more Semitic than a lot of the oppressors in Israel. and before you try and clarify your take on Semitic this isn't about Jews either, there are Jews inside and outside of Israel that oppose the occupation of Palestine lands. sounds like you are the one that needs to educate yourself.
  • + 1
 @imho4ep: Go argue elsewhere
  • + 20
 Can we talk about people riding their bikes minding their own business and doing what they love without harming others, instead of projecting geopolitics on innocent individuals?
  • - 25
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:32) (Below Threshold)
 How are they innocent if all cycling events are paid by Israel government?
Same governament that sent jet fighters bombing villages (with people in it) etc. etc.

Israel heavly invested in cycling in order to re-brand itself and cover the war criminal images.
Israel is not considered a country by most nations in the world.
If they clean up their image, they have more chances.
  • - 25
flag Golden-G (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:54) (Below Threshold)
 There are no limits to morality Mac 1987. Read the links I posted.
  • - 29
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 7:15) (Below Threshold)
 Mac 1987 is one of the many just signed up on this site and pretty much only commenting on this post. My assumption is most of these people have military association and I assume Mac 1987 is Israeli as well. Israel as part of its propaganda efforts, mimicking those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, to use sports to hide, or sports-wash, its decades-long military occupation and apartheid system imposed on the Palestinian people.
  • - 27
flag Golden-G (Apr 15, 2018 at 7:20) (Below Threshold)
 @RedRedRe: they are most likely paid israeli trolls. Agreed. They can try as they may but ine can not whitewash a genocide in the information age.
FREE Palestine!
  • + 28
 @RedRedRe: I'm Dutch you idiot and I have registered recently, but long before this topic.
And for your information: I think Israel should leave the occupied areas, but also that the Arab countries including and especially Palestina should stop trying to blame the Jews for all that is wrong in the world and stop trying to wipe them from the face of the earth, like they have since the first war between them (in which the Arab countries attacked Israel on a national holiday).
But all this is besides the point. This topic is about people actually doing peaceful and bonding activities together, namely riding their bikes. If we would focus more on common interests and bonding, we might focus less on differences and fighting each other.
  • - 9
flag imho4ep (Apr 15, 2018 at 15:07) (Below Threshold)
 @Mac1987: you try living over there under Israeli occupation in a giant prisoner of war camp your whole life. you obviously just read main steam news. this is akin to promoting mountain biking in appartheid era South Africa, would that be cool too?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT5L4YU_Fl4
  • - 5
flag Andreashales (Apr 16, 2018 at 6:38) (Below Threshold)
 Agreed....can people learn how to write as well? This article is so poorly written. It was painful to read! Anyone else notice this?
  • + 21
 Thanks for the race report Mike. I'm glad you had fun. Racing marathon is hard, and having stages and riding as a pair has to be done to be appreciated. Well done.
  • + 10
 The team thing was new to me, but it was cool. You certainly feel more responsible if/when you f*ck up.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: lol "if"
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: I find that it is hard to find or even be a compatible partner. Being the faster one sucks, and being the slower one sucks more, and having two riders that are equal means each one isn't quite sure they are pulling their weight and edge closer and closer to blowing up. Takes an enormous amount of concentration, humility and honesty that is never there solo.
  • + 21
 Jesus Christ, DH season must start, some people are going full covfefe. Throw me Sea Otter Fashion Week, anything...
  • + 14
 Sea otter down country bike race
  • + 7
 @zede: Down Country is haute couture, party in the front, business in the back + fancy tyre inserts and golden dinner plates.
  • + 12
 @zede: Tons of incoming down-country bike coverage when Otter starts next week haha
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: can't wait to see the new downcountry summer collection by TLD : long sleeve green dh jersey + short pink spandex shorts...
Do you need to shave your legs to ride downcountry?
  • + 6
 @mikelevy: but I covered Down-country long time ago, I just didn't know it's called like that. Thank you for coining the term. I just thought it will be called trail riding since Enduro is no longer trail riding. Enduro is riding up with friends and racing them on the way down. I guess Down Country is racing them on the way up too.

www.pinkbike.com/u/WAKIdesigns/blog/waki-leaks-trail-side-fashion-2016.html

Also please take notice of the Pole 120 prototype.
  • + 18
 oh boy, israel israel is one of the most beautiful and interesting places i've ever been. also expensive. even as a non-believer it's kind of mind blowing to think that about walking the same routes as the old testament characters.
  • + 2
 Dream to visit as a tourist and boring (and hot) as hell to live in, if news don't entertain you.
  • - 32
flag justanotherusername (Apr 15, 2018 at 8:31) (Below Threshold)
 Made up characters in a fictional book did not walk around Israel or anywhere else any more than fairies and leprechauns exist.
  • + 7
 Same. I'm agnostic but it's surreal to be in a place where recorded history goes SO far back. Goosebumps.
  • - 15
flag justanotherusername (Apr 15, 2018 at 15:09) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: the bible isn't recorded history though is it? It's pure fiction.
  • + 7
 @Racer951: I'm not talking about the bible or religion, clearly.
  • + 7
 @Racer951:
Bro... NEARLY everything in the Bible has been proven to be real. So yes it could be considered recorded history with a commentary. Whether or not you believe the explanations behind those events is a whole different issue. That ones not for PB.
  • - 10
flag justanotherusername (Apr 15, 2018 at 23:05) (Below Threshold)
 @HurricaneCycles: nearly all of the places maybe, the events however are the figment of imagination, no more real than Harry Potter featuring London. That goes for any religious text, not just the bible.

Let's put it this way, the are probably wouldn't be in conflict without the help of these lovely religions / cults.
  • + 6
 well that's a lot of response to a comment i thought was kind of innocuous. Racer951- you're kinda wrong here. king herod, david, salome, john the baptist, jesus. they were all real people once...whether or not you believe there's a creator is up to you. but the old and new testament are history. the accuracy of history is something that is always in dispute unfortunately.
  • - 11
flag justanotherusername (Apr 16, 2018 at 3:54) (Below Threshold)
 @upchuckyeager: Of course, Thor was also real, so was Medusa, and Ironman, he is real too....

How anybody can place trust in the factual accuracy of a book that also depicts supernatural events and pure fantasy as fact is beyond me. Even if these people did loosely exist (and thats a big if) their entire lives are propped up on narrative, not an ounce of realistic truth in anything.
  • + 1
 @Racer951: oh good for you. you're even more of an atheist/agnostic than i am. you win
  • - 1
 @upchuckyeager: Do you know of any evidence that supports your claim that the old and new testaments are history? If so, can you post a link to it?
  • - 1
 @ntha: The same goes for any religious text, or anythign similar though, I am not picking the Bible out - Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc etc... all fantasy written by one of the novelists of the time in order to create a narrative that could be used to implement control and order amongst the people, the backbone of almost all religions being fear and power.
  • + 1
 @Racer951: All I'm saying is:
It's ok to believe. It's also ok NOT to believe.
If someone is making a claim, he or she may be asked to back it with some evidence, otherwise it's.....just a claim.
  • - 3
 @ntha: I have absolutely no issue with anybody who believes in god, religion or anything else they wish to believe in for that matter, I would treat any religious person with the upmost respect for their right to believe in whatever they wish, so long as they do not attempt to push their belief on me I wont attempt to prevent them from having it.

What I do not like is the effect religion has on society, politics, war, pretty much every aspect of life in the world to one degree or another to an extent that is felt by those that are not religious themselves, nothing else does this.

The whole 'issue' in the middle east between Israel and surroundings is based around religion, the trouble we see with terroist groups such as IS etc are all based around religion and lets not even go into past wars held in the name of 'god' throughout history.

I do not like the way that aspects of religon or its texts are pushed as 'fact' to people who dont believe - I get that if you are religous the stuff has to be true, as if not it all falls apart.

Completely off topic now however.
  • + 2
 @Racer951: Regarding the 'issue' between Israel and it's surroundings, or any other middle eastern conflict for that matter (there are quite a few, other than the one discussed in this comments section. Most of which are much bloodier, although not very popular in the media) i think you're confusing the word "religion" with "ethnic".
Completely off topic.
  • - 2
 @ntha: Absolute crap - why is Jerusalem so important to so many people? I am not confusing ethnicity with religion at all or is it co-incidence that each 'side' is of a different religion?
  • + 16
 Do we blame all Swiss people for hiding Jewish wealth after WWII? Do we blame all American people for bringing chaos to Libya and Syria?
Do we blame all Palestinian people for blowing up busses full of schoolchildren?

Let's stop blaming and boycotting all people and start blaming the once that actually influence geopolitics.
  • - 31
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:17) (Below Threshold)
 Yes, except all the Cycling events in Israel are founded by their governament with the intent of clean up their genocide image and get favourable votes at UN and others. Israel is still not recognized as a nation by most of the world. This is as fake as it can get.
  • - 29
flag Golden-G (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:56) (Below Threshold)
 @RedRedRe: agreed 100%. I give you my full support. Pinkbike is immoral in its posting of this article.
  • + 19
 @RedRedRe:

simply wrong. Samarton (and any other Israeli MTB events) are privately owned events. Israel government is not involved one bit.
regardless of the politics involved - read and look at the pictures. you may want to visit and ride here. and you are more than welcome.

Oren, Israel
  • - 20
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 7:12) (Below Threshold)
 @OrenPerets:
Weird, another comment by somebody recently signed up... and your only comment.
Are you a real person or have military affiliations?

No funding from governament? hahah...

Israel is reportedly paying €10 million to host the Giro as part of its propaganda efforts, mimicking those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, to use sports to hide, or sports-wash, its decades-long military occupation and apartheid system imposed on the Palestinian people.
  • - 22
flag Golden-G (Apr 15, 2018 at 7:14) (Below Threshold)
 @RedRedRe: 100% agreed. Another israeli government sponsored whitewash. The paid zionist trolls are out in full force.
  • + 21
 @RedRedRe:
my god.

OrenPerets
Member since Oct 30, 2016 (quite recently, huh?).

yes i am real. really real. like blood and all.

Facts are not your weapon of choice, are they?

have a great life, & i wish you good neighbors. i wish myself peace with out neighbors.

Oren
  • + 18
 @OrenPerets: shit, thry're on to us and our zionistic scheme of world domination using favorable mtb media!!! Such conniving typical Jews, oy vey!
Dude, pick your battles. Arguing with a couple of Borat level bigots will get you nowhere
  • + 7
 @foxinsocks: hahahaha. Yes, the Zionist coverup with mtnbikes. "Nothing to see here...look a Mountainbike race!"
  • + 11
 @scary1: Yup, and those sharp bastard saw right through us Smile
Well, i guess it's time for us Jews to shape-shift again and find another influential bunch to infiltrate...
  • - 14
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 14:43) (Below Threshold)
 @foxinsocks: just explain why you have free health insurance and free education and I don’t. And I am paying for it.
It is not about Zionist or other bs.... FYI I have had several friends from Israel, and few of them run away from the country.
  • + 11
 @RedRedRe: oh please kindly f*ck off.
  • + 6
 @RedRedRe: oh,that explains it. You're sick on the head and arent smart enough to figure out why.
  • + 10
 @RedRedRe: wow your ignorance continues to go even deeper still. Fascinating.

I know facts arent your strong side but fyi:
We have some of the most highest income taxes in the world, and not because we "want to".
Approx 15% of my monthly salary goes for mandatory health care. A little extra more for private one too.


And i know dozens of Canadians who left and moved to Israel. I could make the arguement that means that Canada blows, bur i wont cuz its a really, really, stupid arguement.
Peace. And if u want to continue an actual, real, open and informative discussion that mighr even teach u something, you can pm.
  • + 3
 @foxinsocks: careful, don't let them discover the Mossads weather controlling machine hidden in a hollowed out volcano in the South Pacific.
  • + 15
 Boardlife69. your words are wrong,rude and offensive. this is a respected bike forum. please take up your words to an appropriate platform and respect others . thank you ( i love mother earth, you and them and still live in Israel and try making the world a better place.....)
  • - 17
flag Boardlife69 (Apr 15, 2018 at 1:02) (Below Threshold)
 Your governments actions are wrong, rude and offensive. But I still love you anyways.
  • + 22
 @Boardlife69: seriously... facebook is best for what you are doing whatever you think it is you are doing. You can just dive in and experience the worst forms of keyboard violence in exchange for most precious likes.
  • - 26
flag Golden-G (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:37) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: you clearly spend too much time on all things mountain bike and not nearly enough on global affairs. There are no limits on morality. The Israel is an immoral, criminal state. Read these articles before you carry on defending something you clearly are misinformed about:

www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/israel/palestine

www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories

www.hrw.org/news/2009/01/10/q-israels-use-white-phosphorus-gaza

Benefit of the doubt has been granted.
  • - 13
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:52) (Below Threshold)
 @harvey7762: you never commented on this forum before.
Are you a real person or do you have military affiliations like all others?
  • - 3
 @Golden-G: I wonder if saying f*ck-tard is allowed on Pinkbike? f*ck-tard
  • + 0
 Mike also should ride in Palestine and Syria ... those country is peaceful and beautiful they said ... thanks in advance
  • + 17
 But where are the photos of Levy in his skinsuit?
  • + 26
 What's your Snapchat?
  • + 14
 Greatest place to bike all year long, whenever you come you will find great trails and nice bikers willing to lead and help
  • - 27
flag RedRedRe (Apr 15, 2018 at 6:13) (Below Threshold)
 Yes, except if you are black you are refused Israel citizenship "because you can not be jewish"?
Please explain.
  • + 9
 It's certainly on my short list now, especially during our cold, wet winters.
  • + 4
 Don't want to be there in the summer lol, or at least anywhere other than the north part - way too hot anytime past like 8am. Winter is fantastic there, just some places have fairly sticky mud. Desert riding though, nothing quite like it!
  • + 4
 @gariel22: riding in summer is not an issue - starts at 6AM and at 9AM you are just after the morning beer... else start at 6PM end of ride 8PM at sunset :-) you are right that desert is winter season and it's the best!
  • + 10
 RedRedRe - wish you to ride with you brothers in Syria.
Amazing trails you could do with your mate John (the Jihadist)...
In your words there is nothing besides hate and envy.
Facebook is a right place for your to express your impotence...
Here people are exchanging riding experience, not politics...
  • + 11
 Be prepared to pay quite a few shekels in Israel, it was certainly one of the most expensive places I've been to.
  • + 6
 Same. I was surprised by the prices. The food is unreal, though.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy hats off to you mate
glad to hear u had fun with the gel slurping guys ...next time give a shout out and we'll get you to some more proper single track and shredders to lead the way

still can't believe i actually read an article on the Samarathon . . .

and don't let Nimi fool you - his part of the original Free riders hucking type in Israel
  • + 4
 shame about the way the government treats the Palestine's though. You would think with the way the jews were treated they wouldn't be such a-holes. The whole region is a clusterfuck and wouldn't even consider visiting it.
  • + 4
 There's a whole lot of misinformation in the media (on both sides I'm sure having lived there). But either way I'd say it sounds a lot worse from the outside. And the riding is worth it
  • - 2
 @gariel22: 'the riding is worth it' - just amazing how much some people live in their own bubble...

Just pop through this conflict zone guys, the riding is worth it, ignore the guns and checkpoints...
  • + 6
 I signed up just to be able to read the below threshold comments on this spicy meatball of an article.
  • + 2
 Every time I go to Israel I regret not bringing my bike or renting. I've also only ever been in summer, when you can only ride early in the morning (the heat can actually kill you). Probably one of the only places where you can ride lush forest and serious Moab-like desert in the same trip.
Next time it's going down 100%. I'll have to go when it's a little cooler...
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: great article! Only one question. Were the desert temperatures a big factor for you? How much did they influence you? (as someone who doesn't ride in sauna normally)
Sorry about my grammar mistakes
  • + 7
 I was Mikes partner. I think we got lucky, weather wasn't in the extremes while we were there but yeah there were a few canyons we roasted in. Came home with quite the sun burn and I've never drank you much water in my life. Blasting down the roads wasn't so bad but the steep climbs were brutal
  • + 3
 LEVEY- Excellent article. Unfortunately, I scrolled down to the comments. And now I just want to stomp the shit out of the few negative assholes that ruin everything with their political bullshit.
  • + 2
 Golden-G blocked me (as did RedRedRe), from replying so this one's for you Golden-G;

It's bad enough you can't even spell correctly or use appropriate grammar but yet again you don't even know or have the slightest clue what you're talking about. Just the usual ad nauseum you read somewhere on the internet. Fact is, if Israel is 'illegitimate' as you so elegantly put it, then what does that make the false flag and false state that is Palestine?! A state that has never existed but in your case severe cognitive dissonance means you're unable to comprehend much, except the smell of your own shit from having your head up your own arse your entire existence. Keep on kowtowing to an islamist agenda with your thinly-veiled racism and anti-Semitism.

P.S. I hear there's also a bulk special deal on tin foil wrap in your area this week especially for you.
  • + 2
 you, sir, are as eloquent as you are punchy. And in return for your favorable comment, i shall promptly request our council to pass you some of our Jew gold.
  • + 1
 @foxinsocks: mazel tov for your glorious comment and generosity. I'll be liaising with the local Mossad agents to infiltrate the aforementioned troll's wifi/internet connection to become the home server of free Islamic gambling porn.
  • + 6
 RedRedRe is a joke
  • + 5
 OMG , the BDS has invaded Pinkbike
  • + 1
 Yikes flying to Tel Aviv for a three day race, how many people flew a great distance for a three day race??? We are gonna f*ck this place inside out before we know it. Maybe it’s for the best. Enjoy some of the suffering ourselves not just let our offspring get it all. Enjoy your back yard!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy - the top picture could use a caption, as clearly it's not in the Samarathon race area.
More like the Be'eri area, which is in the western Negev just south of Ashkelon and East of the Gaza strip.
The Be'eri red singletracks is definitely one of my favorite singletracks. It's also one of my winter to-ride list, because of all the green vegetation and red & yellow flowers, especially in February. It's rideable year-round, just not so much fun to look at when all vegetation is dry and/or thorny... And if you want XC race action, they have a race there around February 10th each year: www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9d2OFD-DmI
  • + 1
 If you're not moving at drafting speeds on a road bike what is the benefit to following another group closely? It almost sounds here as if it's easier to ride behind another group but from the looks of it the line choice isn't so crazy as to need to follow people's lines.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy & partner

really loving to see some Israeli mtb scene coverage. put a smile to my face.
are the samaraton routes so much harder than your home playgrounds? interesting Smile


thanks
Oren
  • + 4
 No, not harder, just different. I struggle a bit in the heat and sun, and you're exposed the entire time during the Samarathon, which was a factor for me. The terrain that we rode isn't as difficult as my home trails, but everything is different in a race situation.
  • + 5
 Awesome story Mike.
  • + 2
 Very nice artticle! Thank's. You have pretty much variation of terrain, weather condition and nature landscape, that's what I like here in Israel.
  • + 4
 What a dream MTB destination!
  • + 4
 Seams that where the USA is involved it’s ok to destroy nations...
  • + 9
 Not necessarily. But if you’re digging in your backyard and happen to strike oil, gold, lithium or any other desirable resources I’d keep that shit on the low down from your American friends
  • + 7
 @Murph86: We are very nervous here in Switzerland, we have water. Errr, I mean we dont have any water. Bone dry. Nothing to see, move along.
  • + 4
 Mike, please be honest, OK? Did you wear lycras?
  • + 3
 I always wear lycra bib shorts - I can't ride to the corner store without them. Baggies over top, though.
  • + 2
 Biking in Palestine:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwXul9cqW_Q

I hope all the people supporting this feel very proud...
  • + 3
 Great article Mike!
Cheers Smile
  • + 3
 Great race report Mike! Time to dust off the XC steed pull on the bibs.
  • + 1
 Oh for f**k sakes, first the anti gun articles and now anti israel comments. The social justice snowflakes have invaded Pinkbike.
  • + 5
 Bro, they live here.
  • + 3
 Oh ffs! People that want to talk about difficult subjects and address actual problems and not live some kind of disturbed echo chamber.
  • + 0
 @Racer951: first off,nobody wants to discuss anything. They want be right,regardless of information presented to them,especially if someone offers an opinion that does not line up EXACTY with their current world view. 2nd, this i pinkbike, this is ground zero for disturbed echo chamber.
  • + 1
 @scary1: I seriously doubt that, on the anti gun articles I noticed a lot of the accounts were just created.
  • - 1
 "Social justice snowflakes". Yes, because calling out genocide makes you a pussy. Just STFU, go to work, pay your taxes, drink beer and watch shitty team sports because the world is in perfect shape. And if anybody disagrees, just call them a snowflake cause you have no argument.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69 don't get your panties in a bunch there snowflake there are seven billion people on this planet killing off a few thousand every other day isn't a big deal lol.
  • - 2
 @DownHooligan: surely you are more of a 'snowflake' by hiding in your nice, safe country while not caring about the rest of the world?

Isn't facing an issue, even if not physically more 'difficult'?

The definition of a snowflake is most often the exact person throwing the term at others.
  • - 8
flag Golden-G (Apr 16, 2018 at 6:02) (Below Threshold)
 @Boardlife69: adhomynem is how all these people like to reply when presented with the facts proving israel’s illegitimacy as a nation abd its policy of ethnic cleansing if the Palestinian population. Another utterly ignorant and immoral post by PB. Disappointing to say the least. I wonder hiw much was paid to run this story...
  • + 1
 @Racer951: The rest of the world is not my problem.
  • + 2
 Who need YouTube, I get all my “facts” from mainstream media
  • + 1
 Cool event,and because the state of Israël is growing bigger every year the trails will only get better.Rock on!
  • + 1
 Biking in Palestine:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMdqch9QwUA

I hope all the people supporting this feel very proud...
  • + 1
 This thing is sickening. I am truly ashamed that a scum like this puts a shade on all the normal people who function decently in these not normal circumstances. Trust me, i know because I've served there. I can assure you that this worthless piece of shit has been removed and trialled. He will carry a criminal record for life. This is not us, but unfortunately there will always be some idiot that should've never been trusted with such responsibility . I wish that there weren't any, but as in all nations we have our own.
  • + 1
 @lost99: "I can assure you that this worthless piece of shit has been removed and trialled."

No you can't.

Three words - 'BreaKing The Silence.' Look it up, this behavior and worse, is routine.
  • + 0
 Great article.... Looks just like a dream trip to me.... Wish i hadn't bothered with 90% of the comments though.
  • + 1
 Enjoyed the write-up! A nice reprieve from the rain and slop here at home.
  • + 1
 I just come here for the comments.
  • + 2
 Looks like bootleg.
  • + 0
 Less pointy.
  • + 1
 I like to see where this article is heading.
  • - 9
flag Boardlife69 (Apr 15, 2018 at 1:31) (Below Threshold)
 Hope you brought a lot of popcorn.
  • + 1
 Man, wasn’t expecting all this haha
  • + 2
 Go to bed Mike. Smile
  • + 6
 Are you accusing him of highest level trolling? Master of puppets?
  • + 0
 israel is the best country in the world, we have the great hummus
  • + 6
 I ate way too much hummus.
  • + 4
 Sorry dude. Lebanese have the best hummus.
  • - 2
 What if it's the Palestanian who are really the Zionists. YEAH BIKES BIKES BIKES
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