Photo Story: Exploring and Racing in Israel with the Gehrig Twins

Jun 9, 2020 at 1:26
by Anita Gehrig  
Views: 1,128    Faves: 2    Comments: 1

Israel- Gasping for breath in the desert
The Gehrig Twins take on the Samarathon Desert Race in Israel to prepare for the Enduro World Series.

It's been quite a while since we last took part in a marathon race together as a Twins team. Okay, we weren't really looking for that either. But we just had to follow the call of Noga Korem, our Israeli friend and competitor in the Enduro World Series: A marathon race in the middle of the European winter in Israel's desert? Ok Noga, we are in!

What kind of sports equipment do you choose for marathon races? Right, Enduro bikes of course – maybe not. But unfortunately, our light trail rockets simply didn't find their way to us in time. Lighter wheels and thinner tires with a fast rubber compound must be sufficient for the endurance trim of our bikes – we don't have any ambitions for the front ranks anyway.

When you escape a too-warm winter with more rain than snow you would at least expect the sun shining when you arrive in a desert country, but we were greeted by a draining rain cloud again after arrival. We feel fooled by the weather caprioles! "Do not worry," Noga says. "In the desert, it will certainly be nice and warm." To our astonishment, Taxi-Noga drove up in a rather small compact car. We have our first doubts about how the four of us with all the luggage are going to fit into the very compact mobile. Thanks to our Tetris skills, we get the seemingly impossible task "packed" and the journey can begin.

The first evening in Jerusalem begins with culinary delights. The exploratory tour through the old market makes our senses go crazy so that we can reconcile our palates with some of the famous Israeli delicacies. However, acclimatizing is not only about the stomach, because the legs also want to be moved a little before they are plagued with lactate again.

Good luck resisting all the sweet delights at the Old Market (Mahane Yehuda) in Jerusalem. The Israeli have a sweet tooth that's for sure!

From sweets to the sweet trail, the "Sugar Trail" near Jerusalem is usually part of the standard tour program. Knowing how much we like sweets, Noga takes us straight to the "Sweeter than the Sugar Trail", which starts very close by.

Now the European winter is moving into the far distance. The landscape welcomes us in the most beautiful spring dress and the otherwise barren desert shines with green hills and colorful flowers in full bloom. With unrestrained anticipation, we start into a trail pleasure for miles. The trail winds its way through the desert steppe in a flowing and beautiful way, the warming sun in the neck, the decision to turn our backs on the Flims winter for a short time is celebrated properly.

The ride marked Noga's come back on a MTB after her horrific training crash in winter.

Soon we leave Jerusalem and set off south in the late afternoon. The following day the Samarathon Desert Mountain Bike Race is already taking place. But another highlight is already ticked off halfway there - bathing in the Dead Sea. The buoyancy of the water, which is rich in salt and minerals, is enormous, and it gives you the feeling of really floating on the water instead of lying in it. This experience completely exceeds our expectations, and our bucket list once again got a bit smaller.

However, not only does the Dead Sea have the ability to suspend gravity, it does the same with time. So much that we are now behind schedule and get our race numbers at the last minute. Not so lucky we are with our dinner. All restaurants have already closed, so we have no choice but to do the carboloading with a gas station salad - as we would not know better about athlete food.

"Huh, what's wrong? I am a little bit confused when the alarm clock rings. No, 5:30 is not the time we usually get out of bed. But the start of the first stage is set early!

The start time is set early but we still have time for some banter in the morning.

At the start of the Samarathon Race, we can't help smiling. What are we actually doing here? We the downhill fanatics amidst cross-country and marathon racers and especially their lightweight carbon rockets. While many participants even took their hardtails, we feel quite out of place with 14 kilograms of "light" Enduro bolides. "Anyway, we're here for fun and we'll have fun with the big bikes too!"

Joe's No Flats our sponsor for bike care product and sealant is based in Israel, thankfully they took care of our bikes.

The starting signal goes off and it begins bumpy and sandy. We ride regularly and fast, but we have to divide the race up because we have 72 kilometers to complete. We master the first big ramp well, but we were warned not to underestimate the following long flat section. Now it is also clear why. Going forward is really tough, the ground is sandy and deep, with headwind on top. The teams riding with us are not a big help either. They prefer to hang in our slipstream rather than do some leadership work themselves. Caro's tactics also seem familiar to me from past races: She hooks onto my back wheel and doesn't make any effort to get away from it.

We - or rather I - fight our way through the wind. After the almost endless flat section, the reward comes in the form of a cool single trail descent. The last ten kilometers are long and the redemption is great when the palm trees of Timna Park appear in front of us like a fata morgana. Highfive to day one - despite Caro's passive tactics - we did well! And to our complete satisfaction, unlike the evening before, we are spoiled culinary today. So not only trail- but also culinary delights are guaranteed at the Samarathon.
But the day should not end without surprises: As winners of our category, we will start on the second day of the race with the leader jerseys. How did we do that with Enduro bikes? - Crazy!

Norco Sight C9 "Marathon Edition" – the lightweight trim of our Enduro Bikes involves XMC all-mountain wheels from DT Swiss with fast-rolling and light WTB tires plus Crankbrothers candy instead of Mallet and that's as far as we changed anything.

XC on an Enduro Bike= Shock stays on firm

Despite the leader's jersey, we start the second day in no means harmoniously. Caro complains about not feeling well but I don't really believe her. In spite of my doubts about her stomach problem, I set an easy pace. But she lets herself fall back again and again until we start to hiss at each other. Fortunately, none of the participants around us understands our war of words in Swiss dialect. But it must have brought something. "I can't look at your ass anymore - I'm going to ride in front now," Caro expresses herself unmistakably. I do not contradict her and hold my grin back. Obviously Caro has dug herself out of her mental depression and is now kicking the pedals harder. With the change of position, we suddenly get forward again.

Already after the 15-kilometer long start-loop, we turn into a trail that was previously touted to us as a highlight of the race. It will lead us over 30 kilometers through the desert. There are no more long climbs and if there are any, they wind their way up the mountain with a moderate gradient. The trail is very beautifully arranged. Racing in the desert in the middle of winter is no walk in the park for the body. Our body system responds to this climate shock with liter by liter of sweat loss and Caro suffers from calf cramps.

Nevertheless, we find rhythm and laughter again - it is quite nice to take part in this race together. After more than 50 kilometers we cross the finish line, happy and relieved in one. A really cool experience, to which our bikes have led us once again, surprise included. The fact that we even won the two-day classification of the Samarathon is quite unexpected for us. Our form can't be bad when we cross the finish line as the fastest women's team with the heaviest bikes in the field.

Now we are moving on to the more comfortable part of the journey, although a long car journey to Jerusalem. We meet in the evening with the tourist guide who will show us the city the next day. During the dinner together we learn a lot about the history of Israel and we get to know typical dishes again - as Foodies we can't hide our passion here. Shakshuka, pita, and much more - the list seems endless and practically all dishes are incredibly delicious.

The famous Western Wall. Religion and its history are omnipresent in Jerusalem. The subject overwhelms us!

In the sightseeing part of our onward journey, we don't miss Tel Aviv of course. The city alone is worth the trip: Hip coffees, delicious restaurants, and apparently a crazy party scene as well as a super nice beach promenade that reminds us of Miami Beach.
In the north of the country, where Noga lives, we test the trails in the Misgav area. The contrast to the desert trails couldn't be bigger, here it's green and a bit cooler. The trails are all centrally connected on two hills. Here you won't get bored so quickly. On the numerous, but relatively short trails, you can romp around very well. The trails wind their way through the light woods.

The crew around Noga is anxious to build even better trails here. Last autumn the first Enduro race in Israel took place here and there will even be an Enduro World Series Qualifier race in the future.

But before we start thinking about racing again, the rumbling stomach is calmed down - with a large portion of hummus. Getting away from the winter was the right decision, which has made us rich in memories once again. Three days after our arrival at home, Isreal closed its borders to get the Covid19 pandemic under control. When we can start our next journey, that will probably remain unanswered for some time.

Israel tips:
- Tel Aviv/ Jaffa: To see as much as possible and travel individually, rent a lime scooter.

- Dead Sea: You shouldn't miss the floating bath of the Dead Sea.

- Desert trip: Sleep or hike in a tent and enjoy the simple life. Must do!

- Jerusalem: The city has an incredibly long history and plays a central role in religion. Take a young cosmopolitan guide and you will learn more than just dates of Christian events.

- The Old Market (Mahane Yehuda): This is worth a visit in the evening, as the market stalls give way to cool bars and food stalls - well worth seeing.

- Blundstones: The national shoes of the Israeli. Everyone wears these shoes originating from Australia to everything and everywhere. Accordingly, the offer is high and the prices quite low.

- Dessert: Dessert and other sweets are available in different variations. Try out Knafeh- it's a cheesy warm sweet.

Thanks Noga Korem #nogatours for the unforgetable trip!!

Follow us for more adventures on bikes, racing and good times! ;-)

Thanks to Samarathon and Israel Tourism for hosting us.

Thanks to our amazing Norco Twins Racing sponsors:
Norco Bicycles I La Marzocco I WTB I Leatt I DT Swiss I FOX I Laax I Magura I Uvex I E-Thirteen I Deity I Joe's No Flats I Acros I Camelbak I Garmin I CrankbrothersI Tranzbag I IndianSummer I Elite Training


  • 37 18
 Bonus Israel tip:
To ensure a good time, try not to be Palestinian.
  • 11 11
 Especially if you enjoy using your legs
  • 15 13
 Glad I wasn't the only one thinking about the reality behind all the pretty pictures, of apartheid Israel. Cheers.
  • 24 7
 @mybaben: the story is way more complex than your propaganda.
Must of the people want to live peace, it is just the extremes (from both sizes) that destroy to everyone.
  • 9 2
 Watch 5 Broken Cameras. It's a short documentary on the situation in Israel from a Palestinians perspective. Really good film.
  • 12 5
 Unless you have spent time in Israel you may not understand how complex the story is- and how one sided the media is (pro-Palestian/anti Israel).

I used to be in the camp that this was a terrible situation- but having spent time there I can attest that it is much different than what is portrayed in the media/western perception.

I don’t want this to turn into a political thread-

What size wheel were the sisters running?

  • 7 4
 @shaked: extremes that seem to drive the country since years and strongly supported by US
  • 8 5
 @shaked: This article is literally state-sponsored propaganda: Thanks to Samarathon and Israel Tourism for hosting us.
  • 8 2
 @Bottleride: In Israel we still use 26 inch wheels Wink
  • 9 8
 @shaked: 1. No it isn't. It's actually simple. Stop stealing their land and end the apartheid.
2. I agree, it is the extremists in the Israeli government and their Zionist supporters.
  • 7 5
 @Bottleride: "Unless you have spent time in Israel you may not understand how complex the story is- and how one sided the media is (pro-Palestian/anti Israel)."
Um, you have that backwards. The US media is 100% pro-Israeli and presents that narrative 24/7. Also, it's actually quite simple.
  • 7 4
 Building f*cking tunnels with billionS given by douchbags like you instead of paving roads and schools. Ride more think less @mybaben:
  • 7 6
 @prodigy1: Yeah, the Palestinians should build more roads and schools so that they can be illegally appropriated. They should also shut those tunnels down so that they can rely on the oppressor for supplies.

'Ride more think less' really seems to be working out for you, halfwit.
  • 7 3
 I am guessing you have not spent any time there- it is very different than your perception and that of the media.

Neither side in this issue are angels but the Israel does so much to support the community and no one reports on it.
  • 5 3
 @Bottleride: what does it matter which white kids the Israeli government gets breakfast for when the IDF regularly maims and murders Palestinian protestors
  • 4 2
 @SinglespeedAssassin: tunnels are built and controlled by Hamas which they use to extort a tax from their own people, but of course you leave that out to suit your own short-sighted agenda.
  • 2 3
 @mybaben: people who say "aPaRtHeId iSrAeL".
  • 4 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: If Palestinians could get the supplies they need in an open market, there would be no need for the tunnels, would there? You're literally commenting on an 'article' sponsored by the Israeli government. GTFO with 'agenda'.
  • 5 2
 @SinglespeedAssassin: No. Hamas make it their business to ensure it's tunnels only as they'd lose their black market/mafia like extorted cash money. Hence they always try to start shit with Israel whenever an election rolls around to stay in power. Besides I'm not seeing you bitching at Egypt for keeping their border with Gaza shut.

You also are literally commenting on said 'article'.

Sounds like an agenda, smells like an agenda, looks like an agenda. Definitely an agenda you've got going on.

Sit down son.
  • 3 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: So Israel et al control the borders, but Hamas controls the flow of goods through the tunnels? If this was the case, why doesn't Israel provide these goods to the Palestinians and starve Hamas economically?

I am commenting on this article to point out that it is sponsored by the Israeli government and, as such, is propaganda.

Yeah, opposing systemic oppression is my agenda. Licking boots seems to be yours. Carry on, you're doing a great job.
  • 4 3
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: When the Egyptian government sponsors an 'article' on mountain biking to distract from the fact that they are systemically oppressing a group of people, you can be assured that I will comment on it.
  • 6 1
 @SinglespeedAssassin: Israel does provide goods via border, but again Hamas controls what goes in and out. Example a truck convoy made its way from Europe loaded with goods and supplies for people in Gaza. When they arrived at Gaza, Hamas took control of said goods and supplies which did not go to the good people in Gaza. Instead they ended up on the black market. Whether that means anything to you or not, that's up to you.

Licking boots, bloody hell I'm not that kinky.

Speaking of systemic oppression, how's that ongoing oppression of first nation Canadian Indians going? Really didn't want to bring it up but here we are.
  • 5 1
 @SinglespeedAssassin: Or maybe the Israeli govt is just sponsoring an article to encourage mountain biking there, nothing more. Let people who visit there make up their own minds instead of having someone dictating their own 'facts'.

If the Canadian government sponsors an 'article' on mountain biking in the future would you feel the same way or not?
  • 3 2
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: “Bonus Canada tip:
To ensure a good time, try not to be indigenous.”

Are you happy now?
  • 3 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: That's a great story about the truck is, but the fact is that Israel continues to suppress Palestinine's economy, and border control is just one way. Here's the UN's latest report Frown
I suppose they also have an agenda, right?

This isn't about Canada but if you want to move the goalposts, let me say that the situation here with indigenous communities in Canada is a f*cking disaster predicated on centuries of systemic oppression. While we are making slow progress towards rectifying the situation, it will take decades to resolve it. That process begins by acknowledging their rights as the ancestral owners of the land.
  • 2 5
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: Uh, comment boards are for commenting on articles. Much like you, that's what I've done here. This happens to be an article sponsored by the Israeli government. U

If the Canadian government did this, I would absolutely feel the same way about it. I'm embarrassed at our relationship with indigenous communities, but at least we are trying to address the situation. Once again, that's not what this discussion is about.
  • 5 0
I love the twins reports from places like Israel and Iran, kudos for bringing another side of our ever growing sport.
  • 3 5
 @SinglespeedAssassin: it sure is. More whitewashing of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people.
  • 5 2
 @SinglespeedAssassin: im an Israeli, and when i was a child the Palestinians from gaza used to enter and exit israel freely, work freely and live together. until they started blowing buses in tel aviv, netanya, jerusalem. ride more think less meant for people that cant think for themselves and take opinion with out actually looking into them. israeli government and policies are not always on the right side but look what happening in Canada and the us? was is the white man place to begin with, what been done here 200-300 years ago so it will be what it is right now. when its in your favor you ignore. not supporting israel is the true color of racism towards Jews, and no worry we have endured it for over 5000 years. so f*ck off, apartheid is in Montreal, los angeles, new york, paris, when its the white man its no problem i guess. israel dont need to sponser 2 chicks riding a bike for you to come, millions comes because israel is the true reflection of how civilization as we know it started for christians, jews and muslims. NEVER AGAIN AND WE MADE SURE OF IT!
  • 3 3
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: @SinglespeedAssassin Come on mate, that is ridiculous Israeli propaganda. Everyone knows that Israel controls every little fly that enters Gaza through ONE check point, and they keep them on a starvation diet. They also bomb the power plants and water treatment plants, and then refuse to let in building supplies, for the Gazans to even rebuild their infrastructure. WAR CRIMES.
  • 4 1
 @mybaben: your colors are showing, you always on the left side of politics so you must be on the left when its comes to israel? There is no place for anti israeli policy when its come to MTB, but when its come to israel you nazis stick your heads up. when there is a brazilian MTB movie anyone say anything about the extinction of the amazon and its tribes? when there is a MTB movie from england anyone mention anything about "bloody sunday"? australia and its natives treatment? US and treatment of minorities???? and so on and on and on but when its comes to jews and israel... f*ck, all hell breaks loose! be fair, educate yourself and know that israel loves its neighbors but we love our survival more.'s%20liquid,must%20therefore%20be%20used%20daily.
  • 2 2
 @prodigy1: Those are important issues for sure! And so is ending the apartheid system of Israel.
  • 5 1
 @mybaben: convenient you left out the parts about Hamas committing war crimes not only against their own people, but also against Israeli civilians. But I'll enlighten you: Hamas knowlingly and willingly fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli towns and cities.

Firing missiles, rockets etc at civilians and not at military targetsis an international war crime. Hamas would also use schools, hospitals etc in Gaza as 'ammunition dumps' as well as using them as 'firing points' knowing full well those locations would receive return fire.

Hamas has no problems using their own civilians as collateral damage to use them as unwilling propaganda.

Also 'apartheid' is an Afrikaans word, not Arabic or Hebrew.

Now bend over and receive your punishments like a good boy.
  • 4 2
 @Golden-G: hey look it's golden-g with more of his "eThNiC cLeAnSiNg AnD gEnOcIdE" because he saw it on the internet theories.
  • 2 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: Are all Palestinians Hamas?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

You're really bad at formulating arguments. Stick to bootlicking. You have a natural talent.
  • 3 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: Hey look, it's streetkvnt-kvlt with more UnsoUrCed BulLsHIT that he made up to promote the oppressive agenda of a terrorist state.
  • 3 2
 @SinglespeedAssassin: the butthurt is very real with you my son. Now get in line to receive your punishments like a good little boy.
  • 2 4
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: threatens violence. Typical.
  • 6 1
 @SinglespeedAssassin: the point is that this article got nothing to do with agreeing or not agreeing to Israeli policies. its no matter who is right or wrong in the conflict and you are allowed to your own opinion and i respect it. the big question is why you pray on a 10 million people country stuck in the middle east instead of taking care of the injustice happening under your nose??? its going deeper than you willing to admit, you are a racist and hate jews. its so easy for you to hide behind false pretense of caring for the Palestinians, Israel provide electricity and water and other goods for free for many years while in Syria, asad have killed 1 million of his own citizens. you don't give a shit about the Palestinians, the Syrians or anyone else, you care about venting out the deep racist roots that buried deep inside you. i ask from you to stop involving politics where its not belong, i do not wait for a German MTB movie to remind anyone about the holocaust, its got nothing to do with it., i come here to f*cking enjoy the sport that i do and not reading about racist sobies like you and others.
  • 4 4
 @prodigy1: 'its going deeper than you willing to admit, you are a racist and hate jews'

There it is. When you can't provide a substantive rebuttal, resort to calling someone racist, or change the topic (what about Syria?).

The article is sponsored by the Israeli government. That makes it political, silly.

When your government stops oppressing Palestinians, I will stop commenting on 'articles' that they sponsor to further their agenda. See how that works?
  • 6 0
 @prodigy1: Thanks at least someone that sees it the way I do..
  • 3 0
Note for Anita:
Update your Pinkbike profile bike details... Batman
  • 1 3
 @SinglespeedAssassin: He didn't make it up mate. It is part of the standard Zionist propaganda handed out to Israelis.
  • 1 0
 @Golden-G: implying punishment is violence. Typical.
  • 1 0
 @Anita1: I think that the biggest problem is Caro's tactics during the race, and it seems like everyone tries to ignore it.
I would (100%) replace my sister (;
  • 18 3
 That was awesome! Rider submitted photo stories are the best thing on PB.
  • 15 4
 Awesome story and great writing!
  • 11 2
 Superb article. Totally love the blend of culture, landscape and biking.
  • 8 5
 Stop with the haterage, if you've never been here, you can not take sides, and if you have, i bet you never heard the full story. I welcome everyone to visit Israel and see with their own eyes what's going on. It sure ain't perfect, but it's not as reported in the media neither. All i can say it's a great place to ride, and i've ridden with some badass arabic riders that can shred like it's 2001 all over again Smile
Wer'e here to enjoy this beautiful sport and this lovely worlwide community, so let's focus on that amazing article and fine footage we just got right from the Gehrig twins.
I still can't believe they WON!!!
  • 7 7
 Yeah, I need to visit a place before I can offer an opinion on the oppression of the people there. I bet the mountain biking in North Korea is also great. Maybe their Ministry of Tourism will sponsor the next 'article'.
  • 4 3
 @SinglespeedAssassin: jesus f*cking christ were you sniffing your own farts when you wrote that?!
  • 3 5
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: Brilliant retort. Maybe you should be smelling my farts also. Given your argumentation skills, it can only help.
  • 4 3
 @SinglespeedAssassin: S I C K B R O ! I must be doing something right if you bothered to comment on my argumentation skills. Jah bless you my son.
  • 3 1
 Israel and the Arabs in the occupied territory need to settle on a peace deal that is based Moutain Biking.
1. Build more trails
2. Shred together
3. Invest in bike infostructure
A. Every rides
B. No bombs except bombing nar trails
C. Create biking Mecca - stop with this stupid ethnic religious bullshit. God doesn’t exist and if he did he”d ride single speed rigid.

Case and point - people don’t want conflict they would rather F*** each other silly make beautiful mountain biking babies.
I love you Israel and Palestine be one together no much dogma or hate.
  • 4 0
 Looks like Danny Hart's doppleganger one the camel!
  • 3 0
 Haha! Or like the love child of Danny Hart and Post Malone.
  • 1 0
 @kelpaso: Indeed!!
  • 4 1
 Very kool
  • 2 1
 I would never have thought that Joe's No Flats was from Israel. I thought it was another chinese knock-off brand.
  • 2 5
 Pinkbike continues to push zionist propaganda. Shame on the Gherig’s and shame on PB. Palestinians are humans worthy of life free from violence, oppression, land theft, and general terror at the hands of the zionist regime of the israeli government. Human rights and dignity for all humans.
  • 4 7
 This article would never have been published if the events took place in apartheid-era South Africa, since white racism/nationalism are deemed bad. Jewish racism/nationalism, however, we must support or fear being labeled “anti-Semitic”.

It’s also heartwarming to see intrepid souls who don’t accept this article’s BS. Shame on these MTBers who participated and whored themselves out.

Incidentally, the desserts pictured are Arab. The Jews stole more than just the land.
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