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Wheels of Love 2017

Challenge yourself for the children of ALYN Hospital

$2,894,577
Money Raised
96% raised of $3,000,000

Wheels Of Love: Oct 29-Nov 2, 2017

Last year was the 18th year of ALYN Hospital’s Wheels of Love, the world’s premier charity bike ride. The 2017 ride took place in the breathtaking Biblical vistas of Israel’s north, along the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. 

 

On behalf of the children treated at ALYN, we would like to thank all those who rode, volunteered, and donated to make last year’s ride such a success. Click here for all the details of the 2018 Wheels of Love ride. 

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RIDERS

Name
Country
Raised
85Herman Weiss
Israel
$7,195
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2017 Routes

Israel is a mountain biking paradise and our Off Road route takes full advantage of this magnificence. The country is brimming with amazing bike trails spanning a wide range of difficulties. Our main group of off road riders are experienced in varied terrain. You will experience everything including technical singles, 4 x 4 white trails, steep climbing, and thrilling descents.

The Enduro Route is for experienced and highly fit mountain bikers. Part of the day, Enduro riders will be with the off road group. At other times, they will ride extensions of the trails that are more technical and add considerable mileage and time to the day’s total. Participation in the special “Enduro” extensions is based on meeting strict time cut-offs to make sure that riders will finish before nightfall.

Distance: 48 km (30 mi), Elevation 750 m (2,460 ft), Enduro extensions: +27 km (17 mi)

The Bet Keshet single

Forested trails, rocky singles, a huge climb, and a thrilling descent mark the start of the 2017 Wheels of Love ride for the off-road and Enduro riders.

The adventure begins in the Lavi Forest in the Lower Galilee. Under a thick canopy of green branches, riding begins not far from the Golani Junction.

Spirits are high as the group begins the climb into the hills around Kibbutz Bet Keshet. At the top of the climb there is a sharp turn that is the beginning of the day’s first single.

Single Bet Keshet crosses back and forth down the hill toward Mt. Tavor which is visible in the distance. Highlights of this single include rocky sections, tight turns and some areas that wind tightly around eucalyptus trees. Paying attention to the trail is a real challenge when the views are so spectacular.

The descent ends at Nahal Tavor, a spring which the route crosses several times.

 

The long climb

For more than an hour, the route then climbs through open fields west of Lake Kinneret.  Although this climb is not technically difficult, it can fatigue even the the strongest riders.

Pace yourself. The windmills you see on the hilltops in the distance are your goal. The fun really begins once you have reached the windmills. The route turns south and follows a narrow ridge with a steep drop down to the Kinneret.

Riding in the clouds is exhilarating. Near the end of the ridge trail, the route turns left and the descent begins. Take your time. There are places where the trail is both steep and rocky. It takes a fraction of the time to reach the bottom where you will be greeted by thousands of storks that will eventually head to Africa for the winter.

From the bottom it is just a few kilometers to the Ohalo Manor Hotel at Kibbutz Kinneret which will be home until Wednesday morning. After securing your bike, go into the hotel where you can compare experiences with other riders while enjoying a cold beer and refreshments.

Enduro Additions:

For the strongest riders, we will offer 2 additions to the day’s ride for the Enduro group. These routes will add about 27 kilometers to the total. The first addition is a steep climb up Mount Tu’ran with a long, fast descent back into the valley. A second addition is a continuation of the Bet Keshet single, giving you more time to test your bike handling skills winding around the many twists and turns of this rocky single. Eligibility for the Enduro additions is based on strict time cut-offs. We want you safe back at the hotel when it gets dark!

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

FOR ENDURO MAP, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 55 km (34 mi), Elevation: 1,100 m (3,608 ft)

Yavniel Canyon

As the day begins, we cross the road from our hotel and ride along the banks of the Yavniel river bed. As soon as we leave the flat area around the Kinneret, the mountains close in on either side of this steep canyon. The route winds back and forth across the Yavniel river bed. Depending on weather, the stream may already have running water making for some dynamic riding and splashing. If there was recent rain, spots of mud could make for a challenging start to the day. The trail is full of short inclines and ditches which will test your bike handling skills.

As we leave the river bed, we start a long, gradual climb through the Yavniel basin. On both sides, the canyon walls are replaced by fields of olive and almond trees. The orchards stay with us as we ride up to a spot high above the city of Tiveria. At the top of the climb, we ride through an underpass of the highway and head towards the Arbel Mountain.

Mount Arbel

We cross the road and ride down into the valley below the Arbel Mountain, site of one of the most significant battles between the Philistines and the Israelites in the Bible. We will climb again to the national park established at the top of the Arbel.

From the summit, we are treated to an impressive view of the Kinneret and the mountains of the Golan on the other side. If the first two climbs weren’t challenging enough, you’ll have a chance to push your limits even more.  Riders who reach the Enduro cut-off point in time will ride an additional segment.

Enduro Extension:

Not to dissuade you but this section starts with a treacherous and technical downhill followed by an almost impossible climb. This route is only for extremely skilled riders. Riders must be able to handle very steep ascents, technical descending, and a variety of obstacles. The trail will cross the Arbel stream so be prepared to get wet. The whole way the trail will be full of basalt rocks making the riding quite difficult.

The rest of the riders will ride down into the valley and and then up to the Arbel Mountain National Park where we will regroup of lunch and to enjoy the views across the Kinneret to the mountains of the Golan. 

 

The Swiss Forest

After we finish lunch, it is on to the highlight of the day — the Swiss Forest single. This single is simply magnificent. As you zip around the bends of this beautiful trail, you will forget the climb that brought you here. The trail is not particularly technical which means you can be comfortable opening up a bit and putting on some speed.

There are a few minor ups and downs, but mostly you will spend your time with the wind rushing through your helmet as you take in the incredible views of the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberius far below.

If you are agoraphobic (afraid of heights), focus on the trail rather than looking over the precipice to your right. Just be prepared for a sudden stop should one of the neighborhood cows decide to cross the trail right in front of you. We could spend hours riding through this single, but we will need to return to our hotel before darkness sets in. We will enjoy a fast and fun descent through Ain Poriya as we leave the heights and return to our hotel on the shores of the Kinneret.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

FOR ENDURO MAP, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 58 km (36 mi),  Elevation 850 m (2,788 ft), Enduro Extensions: +15 km (9.3 mi)

The Susita climb

After two days in the Galilee, it’s time to head to the Golan Heights. This year’s focus will be the beautiful vistas of the Southern Golan.

The third day of this year’s Wheels of Love begins with a relatively easy ride along the Jordan River near the southern tip of the Kinneret. The route goes through Kibbutz Degania, Israel’s first communal settlement. Banana and date trees plantations abound.

The only climb in this otherwise flat area is near Tel Katzir. When we reach the foothills of the Golan, the route heads north not far from the shores of the Kinneret.

After one more section of relatively flat riding, the route turns east and the real climbing begins.

First is the 5 km climb to Susita. This is not an easy climb. As the land drops away by the side of the trail, the scenery is breath-taking. Portions of the route are paved and portions are a dirt trail. At the very top is Hippos National Park, an archeological site with artifacts dating back more than 1,000 years.

The first rest stop is in a eucalyptus grove.

Syrian guns and an extremely challenging single

From Susita, the route continues along a narrow, paved path high above the Kinneret. The route continues along the edge of a cliff with a sheer drop off to the side.

There will be a quick break at Ein Tofek, a former Syrian bunker with guns that once fired at the Israeli towns below.

The return route is short, steep and rocky in places. There is a drop of several hundred meters in about a kilometer. In no time you will be at the bottom.

The next part of the day’s route is along a very pleasant segment of the Kinneret Perimeter Cycle Route. This new project will eventually include 114 kms of bike trails around Israel’s largest lake.

The Enduro segment includes the technical single near Ein Shuyerach. This is a very rocky and steep descent. At times, the trail is extremely narrow with a sheer drop on the side. Please exercise extreme caution when riding this trail. The trail passes by ancient springs, a forest grove, and a Syrian officer’s bathhouse. But most riders will be gripping their handlebars and focusing on the trail too much to notice. These segments add about 15 kms to the day’s total.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

FOR ENDURO MAP, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 46 km (28.5 mi),  Elevation: 300 m (984 ft), Enduro Extensions: +26 km, (16 mi)

Destination: Kibbutz Ein HaNetziv

The first three days of this year’s ride were technically challenging and afforded some breathtaking views.

For most Off Road riders Day 4  will be quite a bit easier.  The route winds through beautiful plantations along the Jordan and Tavor rivers.

Riding begins on the banks of the Jordan River where the dirt trail is largely flat and free of obstacles. Take the opportunity to enjoy the relaxed pace and schmooze with some of the other riders.

Leaving the area of the Kinneret for the first time all week, the route goes south, leaving behind views of the Golan Heights. The route now crisscrosses Israel’s bread basket. Instead of mountains and sea, there are Jordan Valley wheat fields and banana plantations.

Continuing along the border with Jordan, you will have an opportunity to look through the fence into no man’s land and the farms in Jordan. Some Israeli and Jordanian farmers are permitted to work parts of this area together in peace.

Crossing under Route 90, the route heads toward the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers..

This is the location of the Rotenberg hydroelectric plant that operated between 1932 and 1948, before Israel gained its independence.

The route also goes by Peace Island, a small area of land between Israel and Jordan where seven Israeli school children were murdered by a deranged Jordanian soldier in March 1997. This incident prompted Jordan’s King Hussein to come to Israel to make condolence visits to the families.

There will be a rest stop at the remains of a stone Turkish railroad bridge that straddles the Yarmouk River.

Riding for the day finishes at Kibbutz Ein HaNetziv in the Bet Shean Valley, where Wheels of Love riders from kibbutzim in the Jordan, Jezreel and Bet Shean valleys will host all Off Road riders prior to getting on the buses headed for this year’s final banquet in Jerusalem. These kibbutzim traditionally supply the variety of fruits, nuts and wine that are enjoyed during the ride.

Enduro For those who do not want a relaxing “rest” day, they can join the Enduro group for some extremely long and challenging riding, including some of the steepest climbs and most technical downhill segments. The strongest off-road riders will climb the extremely steep ascent to the Belvoir Fortress, overlooking the whole Jordan Valley. Climbing this road on a trail bike is no small accomplishment. The Challenge riders will also be riding up the same course. Enduro riders will crest the hill and then ride down the steep and technical Nachal Issachar. This is one of the two hardest descents (the other being the trail down from Har Arbel that we tackled on Monday. The two Enduro segments will add 25 kilometers to Wednesday’s ride.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

FOR ENDURO MAP, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 42 km (26 mi),  Elevation: 1,000 m (3,280 ft),  Enduro Extensions: +15 km (9.3 mi)

The Burma trail

The final day of the 2017 Wheels of Love ride goes through the verdant Judean Hills to finish at Alyn Hospital.

Leaving the Ramada Jerusalem after breakfast, riding begins at Mini Israel near Latrun. The Off Road route includes the dense forest around the Armored Corps Memorial. Shaded trails go past Neve Shalom, a cooperative Jewish-Arab village and on to the Burma Road, the makeshift road between Kibbutz Hulda and Jerusalem that was engineered by US Army Col. David “Mickey” Marcus during the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. This road is the subject of the movie “To Cast a Giant Shadow.”

Crossing under Road No. 38 that connects Bet Shemesh to the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, there is a series of climbs and descents all leading to Sataf National Park. After lunch, all Wheels of Love groups will ride together. First down to the Kerem Junction near the village of Ein Kerem, and then one final challenging climb up to Alyn Hospital.

The children of ALYN are waiting

Entering the hospital is always an emotional end to an amazing five days. Friends, family and the children of Alyn and their families, all greet the riders. Some of the children who directly benefit from the ride’s fundraising, are on hand to award medallions to all the riders.

These medallions symbolize challenges and courage. Wheels of Love riders train for months to meet the challenge of this annual five-day bike ride. For some of the children of Alyn, being able to place a ribbon around a rider’s neck is no less of a challenge.

After enjoying light refreshments, there will be a very short closing ceremony highlighted by announcing the amount raised by the riders up to the end of the ride.

Then with the dramatic Jerusalem sunset in the background, old and new friends bid farewell to each other.

Until next year’s Wheels of Love.

Enduro Addition One last time, the strongest riders will get to add an additional segment. Today, those who meet the cut off time will spend more time riding through the historic and beautiful Burma Trail.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

FOR ENDURO MAP, CLICK HERE.

The On Road Route is our most popular choice. For five full days, cyclist will ride through varied terrain with significant climbs and thrilling descents. The ride will spread out at times allowing those who want to ride faster to go for it while others can sit back and enjoy the amazing scenery.

The Touring Route accompanies the On-Road Route for half the day. Then participants climb aboard a luxury bus and we arrange a variety of incredible tours. This year, Touring Route participants will cruise the Kinneret, visit a chocolate factory, hike through the ruins of the ancient city of Gamla, sample locally brewed beer from an Israeli micro-brewery, and learn some history visiting the Israeli-Jordanian border. 

Distance: 70.3 km (43.7 mi), Elevation: 660 m (2,165 ft)

The Arbel Cliff, the Swiss Forest, and the Sea of Galilee

Wheels of Love 2017 begins in the Lavi Forest, close to the Golani Junction in the Lower Galilee. Our starting point is across the road from Kibbutz Lavi, a religious kibbutz founded in 1949.

All riders will gather at the Lavi Park on Sunday morning. Bikes that were dropped off at ALYN during check-in will be ready and mechanics will be on hand to make last minute adjustments. Coffee and cake will be available as riders get a chance to renew acquaintances and meet new riders. There will be a brief ceremony and then WE’RE OFF.

The Arbel Cliff and Climb

The first serious climb of the day is from Tiberias to the Mt. Arbel National Park. The route goes away from the main road (Route No. 77) and heads down a narrow street that passes the town of Arbel on the way to the majestic cliffs. Enjoy the descent into the valley. Before you know it you’ll be making your way up an abnormally steep climb.  Make sure to take in the spectacular views on the left.

Mt. Arbel National Park is an impressive site. Make sure to take time to walk to the scenic overlook.

Mt. Arbel is known for the caves that were dug into the rock by Jews more than 2,000 years ago. Jews in the area were hiding out and fighting first the Greeks (about 160 BCE) and then the Romans (about a century later). In the 17th century the caves were expanded by local Druze, but the original caves are documented to date back to the Second Temple period. Josephus writes about the Roman conquest of some of the last Hasmonean rebels who lived in the cliffs of Mt. Arbel. As proof of its place in Jewish history, there are the remains of an ancient synagogue which can be visited.

You can read even more here.

A Swiss Forest in Israel

After a stop at the Arbel National Park, we get back on the bikes and now can enjoy an absolutely thrilling descent back down from the mountain. We retrace our “steps” to Route #77, and ride to the entrance of a unique park — the Swiss Forest park.

The entrance to this park includes another impressive climb. The road twists and turns, enabling riders to take in the magnificent views of the Kinneret. A variety of both natural and imported trees provide welcome shade. Most of the park was built with donations from the Jewish community of Switzerland. You will appreciate their generosity at the well-deserved rest stop.  

 

 

From the Jewish National Fund:

At first glance, Switzerland Forest appears to be a typical KKL-JNF site with a pleasant view and rural recreation facilities. But in actuality, this forest was not planted solely for recreational purposes: it is also designed to protect the residents of Tiberias from landslides… In 1934, twenty-five people were killed when earth and rocks tumbled down into Tiberias. Ever since then, KKL-JNF, with the help of its friends in Switzerland, has been implementing numerous projects in the area, including drainage renewal, erosion prevention and the care and development of the local forest. 

Switzerland Forest lies on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley. These steep slopes were created when the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) basin sank and Mount Arbel and Mount Berenice rose, and the average difference in altitude is now 450 meters (from 210 meters below sea level to 240 meters above it). 

These figures are important because after the morning’s steep climbs, the route descends 450 meters. For those who love long descents, enjoy yourselves. But please watch out for slower riders.

Riding along the coast

Once all riders have made their way down to the Kinneret, the rest of the day continues along the shores of the lake. The route joins the main road south of Tiberias and continues along the southern and then eastern shore of the lake. 

This area is also rich in history. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, and Romans all built towns and settlements around the lake including Tiberias. In the first century, the Jewish historian Josephus reported a thriving fishing industry, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake. 

In 135 CE after the defeat of Bar Kokhba’s revolt by the Romans, Jews were expelled from Jerusalem. Those who had survived the wars made their way north and many settled around the Kinneret. The center of Jewish life shifted to this region. It was here that numerous important Jews texts were compiled including the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud.

Read more about the region here

Touring Group — Lake Kinneret Scientific Voyage

The Kinneret is Israel’s only fresh water lake and has historically been the source of the majority of Israel’s drinking water. In recent years, increased demand for water and climate change, including decreasing rainfall, have led to the lake being at one of its lowest levels ever. Other water sources have been developed to meet this need.

After riding for half the day, the Touring Group will board a special scientific research vessel for an educational cruise to learn about this fascinating part of Israel. 

We finish the day’s ride at the Kinar Hotel, which is where the on road and touring groups will stay until Wednesday morning.

Please note that if you had mechanical issues during the day, mechanics will be available at the hotel.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 81 km (50 mi),  Elevation: 1,117 m (3,665 ft)

Tanks, ruins, and the battle of Tel Saki

Monday and Tuesday the route climbs up onto the Golan Heights. The first part of both days includes serious climbs. These climbs will give riders an appreciation for both the ancient history and the modern strategic importance of this area. While the morning climbs are challenging, just remember: What goes up must come down.

From the end of the French Mandate in Palestine in 1944 until 1967, the Golan Heights were controlled by the Syrian army. From the commanding elevation, they frequently fired on the nearby Israeli towns, villages and kibbutzim. An entire generation of Israelis who lived around the Sea of Galilee grew up often spending the night in bomb shelters. 

Approaching the Golan Heights by bicycle makes the Syrian military advantage obvious. The first battles with Syria were during the Six Day War. But the decisive battles took place during the Yom Kippur War. This was a turning point in modern Israeli history as residents of Israel’s north no longer lived under the threat of Syrian artillery.

The largest and most serious tank battles since World War II took place between Israel and Syria during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Today large sections of the Golan Heights have been set aside for training and defensive positions of the IDF Armored Corps. Evidence of the fighting that took place here is everywhere. It is not unusual to see IDF tank maneuvers in the fields near the roads on the route. (Please do not photograph the soldiers or their vehicles.)

 

The Tank Pit-Stop and the Khushina Mosque

 

 

The first part of the day is a long and challenging climb on Route #87, one of the six roads into the Golan. Partway up the climb is a collection of (decommissioned) Israeli tanks in a grove of eucalyptus trees. We will have a pit stop here, and riders can see (and photograph) the tanks up close. This specific area sits at a strategic cross-roads and was fought over in 1967 and again in 1973.

A little further up the road is a partially destroyed mosque. This marks where the village of Khushnia once stood. Archaeological evidence points to a Jewish village here in the days of the Talmud.  Over the centuries, various groups settled here and at one time the village numbered hundreds of houses.

By 1967, it was a Muslim Syrian village. During the Six Day War, the residents fled and Syrian army units fought pitched battles with the advancing Israel units. During the fighting, the mosque and most of the houses were damaged. 

The pock-marked mosque remains as a reminder of the costs of war.

The Barak Brigade and Tel Saki

A bit further north we will be riding through what was one of the key battlefields in the Yom Kippur War. We will have a short stop at a monument to the Barak (Lightening) Brigade at the corner of Routes #87 and #98. This unit was one of the few undermanned groups that found themselves faced with a surprise attack by thousands of Syrian armored vehicles, artillery, and infantry. Here and farther to the south where we pass Tel Saki, the bravery and sacrifices of  these units saved the north of Israel from Syrian occupation.

From the website of the Barak (188th) Brigade:

With Syrian tanks overrunning the Golan Heights’ southern sector, only selfless acts of bravery by the 188th Barak Brigade prevented the Syrians from capturing the heights and threatening the entire north of Israel.

 Defeat seemed to be imminent for the state of Israel. The Syrians’ Soviet-style massive frontal assault was too much to bear, and the Israeli front lines had already collapsed. The Israeli general in charge of the entire front had abandoned his nearly surrounded headquarters (HQ) and retired to a makeshift command post a few kilometers back. With two Syrian brigades advancing on the headquarters and no Israeli reserves in sight, defending the headquarters–left in the hands of infantrymen supported by only two trackless tanks mustered from the camp’s repair depot–seemed almost futile… Read More

With thoughts of modern Israeli heroism, the day’s route finishes with a 10 kilometer descent on Route No. 789. The views are spectacular, steep and winding. Take the curves carefully and be aware of other riders. Especially if you stop to take a picture.

The route on Tuesday returns to a different section of the Golan Heights. In the meantime, enjoy the cold beer, hot food and good friends, all waiting for you at the Kinar Hotel.

Touring Group — Gamla National Park

The excavations at Gamla are among the most noteworthy in the Golan Heights. The ancient city of Gamla dates back more than 2,000 years to the Second Temple period. It is identified in the Talmud as the capital of the Golan.

Years before the famous story of the fall of Masada, the rebellion against Rome had begun in the north. Three Roman legions surrounded Gamla. The Jewish inhabitants held out for months and the city fell in 67 CE. Rather than be captured alive, thousands of Jews threw themselves from the walls of the city to their deaths. A few coins have been found from the period. They bear the inscription, “For the redemption of Jerusalem the Holy.”

The Touring Group will take a walking tour of the site.

Read more…

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 74.2 km (46 mi),  Elevation 1,061 m (3,481 ft)

Back to the Golan

Once again we will be climbing up the Golan as we take on another section of this dramatic, mountainous region. The climb begins quickly. Just a few kilometers from our hotel, we will begin to climb the challenging ascent past Maale Gamla. 

The climb is extremely steep and continues for over 16 kilometers. The views are stunning along the road. When we reach the top, we will have a much deserved pit stop where we can rest and refuel.

The good thing about completing such a steep climb in the morning is that the rest of the day, the terrain is either flat or descending.

 

Katzrin

The small city of Katzrin (pop 7,000) is considered the capital of the Golan. It is the governmental, commercial, and education center for all the surrounding towns. The city hosts a number of large industries including the Golan Heights Winery, Israel’s largest solar power station, the Mea Eden water plant, and Golan Olive Oil, one of Israel’s largest olive oil production facilities. 

The modern city of Katzrin was established in 1977, ten years after the Six Day War. It was built in the location of the ancient Jewish city that bore the same name. According to the Jewish Virtual Library:

The location of Katzrin, mentioned in ancient Jewish sources, was identified at the end of the 19th century. The synagogue was discovered in 1967 during a survey, in which an ancient gravestone bearing the Hebrew inscription Rabbi Abun, may he rest in honor was also found. The synagogue was excavated between 1971 and 1984 and, beginning in 1983, houses in the village east of the synagogue were also excavated.

The remains of ancient Katzrin have been restored after excavation: the columns of the synagogue are upright once more and the houses near the synagogue are two stories high and roofed. Samples of ancient household utensils and agricultural implements are displayed in the houses.

The Tax Collection House

After we stop for lunch in Katzrin, we ride north around the town of Kidmat Zvi. Here is where we will reach the northernmost point of the week’s ride. As we turn south onto route #91, we pass the Gilbon Stream and another monument to the Barak Brigade that was decimated defending the Golan in 1972.  The views are magnificent. They are full of lush greenery and flowing streams. In the midst of this pastoral beauty there are occasional barbed wire fences surrounding mine fields and IDF Armored Corps bases. 

Before we begin the anticipated descent, we pass the old French Customs House. At the end of the first world war, the Middle East territories that had been under the control of the defeated Ottoman Empire were divided between Great Britain and France. (Click here for a short history of the mandate era.) Iraq and what is now Israel fell under the British mandate while Lebanon and Syria were administered by France. The area through which we are riding was one of the main routes between the British and French mandates. We will ride by the old customs house where travelers had to stop. Today, an Israeli boutique hotel is being constructed on this site.

From this point, riders will enjoy the 10 km long straight descent back down to the Kinneret. Our hotel and Happy Hour are just a few kilometers from the bottom of the descent.

Touring Group — Chocolate Factory Tour and Workshop

The touring group will take a break from hikes, cruises and historical lectures to visit Da Karina, one of Israel’s finest chocolate boutiques. While your friends ride up the steep Golan hills, you will discover how the sweetest dessert is made by Da Karina’s expert chocolatiers. Then, our touring group will have a hands-on workshop where you can craft your own sweet souvenirs.

But don’t worry, you can work off your morning dessert with a half-day of spectacular riding.

 

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 70 km (44 mi),  Elevation 366 m (1,200 ft)

From sea to river

Wednesday’s ride begins with another long, peaceful ride along the Kinneret. Although the terrain is mostly flat, there are usually headwinds, so drafting with other riders will help conserve your energy. New riders: If you have never drafted in a group before, ask a veteran rider who is riding more or less at your pace, what to do.

During the morning the route turns south, leaving both the Kinneret and the Golan behind. The route is no longer near the border with Syria. But this is a small country. Now the route continues along the border with Jordan. This is a peaceful border where you can still see no-man’s land and abandoned Jordanian military posts from before the Six Day War. The area is making the slow transition from a military zone to agriculture. Farmers from both Israel and Jordan can receive permission to farm the fields in between the border fences.

Touring Group — Neharaim at Gesher

Neharaim sits at a strategic cross-roads on the border with Jordan where the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers come together. This is where Pinhas Rutenberg built what would be the state of Israel’s first power plant in 1927, a hydro-electric plant, converting the energy of the rivers’ flow to electricity. In 1939, almost a decade before the state was founded, a kibbutz was established to safeguard this strategic site. In 1948, the members of this kibbutz, despite being heavily outnumbered, successful defeated a force made up of Jordanian Legion and Iraqi army units. 

Touring group members will have a guided tour of the area including the “Peace Island,” established in memory of seven school girls from Bet Shemesh who were killed by a Jordanian solider firing across the border.

 

Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv

Wednesday’s riding finishes with a celebration hosted by Wheels of Love riders who live in the kibbutzim in the Jordan and Jezreel valleys. Riders from the North provide Wheels of Love with the variety of fruits, nuts, and wine that are enjoyed all week. All of these treats are grown and produced locally.

There will be a short ceremony at Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv before boarding the buses to Jerusalem where we will enjoy the annual Alyn Wheels of Love gala dinner and awards ceremony. This will be the last evening together as a group.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 51 km (32 mi),   Elevation 1,300 m (4,265 ft)

The climb up Nes Harim

After breakfast in Jerusalem buses will take all riders to Mini Israel, near Latrun, to begin riding. This is one of Israel’s most popular areas for bicycling. Long, open roads through rolling hills rise up to meet riders who will enjoy each other’s company for one last day. On the final day of WOL 2017, the route snakes through the Judean Hills and finishes at Alyn Hospital.

One of the day’s two major climbs is up to the monument to the Challenger Spacecraft crew and Moshav Nes Harim. This area is the American Independence Park which was developed by KKL/JNF to celebrate the American bicentennial. This section of the route begins with a short climb. There are kilometer markers on the side of the road (except for Km 3). One of the things you will have learned in the Golan Heights is the concept of pacing yourself on climbs. This is especially true in the Jerusalem Hills. 

Here’s what to expect:

Km 1-2. Very easy.

Km 2-3. You’ll think this is the hard part but it isn’t. The shoulders are fairly wide but will probably be in the sun.

Km 3-4. This is the hard part so gauge yourself. There are no heroes on this climb. Let your bike do as much work as it can. At the top of the hill (just after Km 4), grab a space in the shade if you want to rest for a few minutes. After a dip in the road, the climb continues.

Pass Km 5 and the end of the first part of the climb is in sight. Just before the road turns to the right you will see the Challenger monument and the road leading to the Stalactite Cave on the left. This year’s route does not go left.

There’s a bit of a climb at Km 6 (the marker is painted on the road) and then a semi-serious climb that starts before Km 7 and continues for another 500 m.

There are two more quick climbs between Km 8 and Bar BaHar which is just past Km 10. This is the lunch stop.

The entrance is on the left. After lunch, there is an invigorating 5 km descent with just a small hill thrown in. On the downhill, please pay attention to riders around you. Not everyone rides at your pace. If you want to ride slowly, please stay to the right.

At the bottom of the hill there is a railroad bridge. The next 8 km are rolling hills with an overall slight gain in elevation. All Wheels of Love riders will meet at the Kerem Junction. Everyone – Challenge, On Road, Off Road and GalgAlyn (one day) riders – will climb together up to Jerusalem and Alyn Hospital. This is the second serious climb. Take your time and be aware of other riders.

The Goal

The scene is extraordinary as 600 bicyclists all wearing yellow Alyn jerseys, ride on residential streets and then turn into the hospital. Crowds are cheering this impressive accomplishment. Riders have covered hundreds of kilometers and have climbed some of Israel’s highest peaks.

Veteran riders admit that this is always an emotional ending to an amazing five days. Riders will meet some of the children whose lives are directly affected by the Wheels of Love.

The children will award all riders medallions commemorating this year’s accomplishments. It’s time to get off the bikes, meet family and friends and have something to eat and drink. Simultaneously you will have a chance to say goodbye to old friends, some of whom you met just five days before.

The children of ALYN

And there are the children.

Wheels of Love riders challenge themselves by training all year to be able to ride for five days. For the children of ALYN, their challenges are no less impressive, even if they involve wheel chairs and inhalators.

An escort of ALYN children lead all the riders to the finish line on handbikes.

A short ceremony will conclude the festivities as riders hear the amount that was raised for the children of ALYN this year. As the sun sets, everyone heads home. Riders from Israel and 14  countries around the world will bid a fond farewell.. With jerseys that will one day be clean again. And bikes that have ridden hundreds of kilometers, all 600 riders can be proud of their achievement to benefit the children of ALYN.

Until next year in Jerusalem.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Challenge is the route for the most highly experienced and fit road riders. The pace is fast, the climbs are among the steepest in all of Israel (including a century ride up Mount Hermon), and the distance is formidable.  If you feel comfortable riding 100 kilometers (60 miles) or more every day for five days, this is your route. Total distance will be 540 kilometers (335 miles).

Distance: 101 km (63 mi), Overall climb: 930 m (3,051 ft)

Spectacular start

Once again this year, Challenge riders will be the first group to roll through the Wheels of Love 2017 starting point in the Lavi Forest near the Golani Junction in the Lower Galilee. The route heads south and the first challenge is the climb up Mt. Tabor (Tavor). The mountain is mentioned in the Bible as border of three tribes: Zevulun, Issachar and Naphtali.

The mountain was a strategically vital high ground because it looked over the junction of the Galilee’s main north-south route and the east-west highway of the Jezreel Valley. In the Bible, the Jewish prophetess Deborah summoned her general Barak  to give him God’s command, “Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun” (Judges 4:6). Sisera the Canaanite had used the area as a military base to control the Israelites for twenty years. Descending from the mountain, Barak and his army vanquished the Canaanites ushering in four decades of peace.

Riders will wage a battle of their own as they climb to the summit of the mountain. The climb continues for more than 7 kilometers. At some points the grade exceeds 10%. The climb includes a series of switchbacks up the mountain. The stunning, royal blue Kinneret is visible at every turn.

 

Beit She’an

There will be a short rest at the summit and then riders will enjoy the descent to the base of the mountain where they will ride south to Beit She’an. Archaeological finds suggest the city may have been first occupied 8,000 years ago. Around 1100 BC, the city was conquered by the Philistines, who used it as a base of operations against the Israelite Kingdom. King Saul committed suicide after losing a battle near here (Mount Gilboa) and “the victorious Philistines hung the body of King Saul on the walls of Beit She’an” (1 Samuel 31:10).

Following Saul’s death, King David captured Beit Shea’an in a series of brilliant military campaigns that expelled the Philistines from the entire region. He rebuilt the city to a state of almost unrivaled grandeur. Today, one can imagine what the city would have been like by visiting the ancient city ruins, preserved within the Bet She’an National Park.

After leaving Beit She’an, the riders turn northeast and ride to the border with Jordan. The route follows the border fence north to the Galilee. There are abandoned Jordanian army bases on the other side of the fence. This is no man’s land. Be prepared: This area is known for fierce headwinds. When the route reaches the Kinneret, the road hugs the coast and riders will enjoy a beautiful ride with the water on the left and the Golan Heights on the right. As the sun sets, riders will be greeted at the Ramot Resort Hotel at Moshav Ramot which will be “home” until Wednesday morning.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 126 km (78 mi), Overall Climb 1,474 m (4,836 ft)

Crazy climb

Monday’s highlight is one of the Challenge group’s favorites.

Back by popular demand, this climb has numerous extremely sharp switchbacks combined with a grade that is so steep, some riders think it is almost impossible. During the climb, riders will have a bird’s eye view of the point where Israel, Jordan and Syria meet.

Before the Six Day War in 1967, the Golan Heights were under Syrian occupation and high ranking Syrian officials would stay at the hotel at the natural hot springs at Hamat Gader. One of these guests was Eli Cohen, the Israeli who rose to a position as senior adviser to the Syrian Minister of Defense. The book about his exploits, Our Man in Damascus, details his life as a spy from 1961-1965. When he was discovered he was hanged in Marjeh Square in central Damascus in May 1965.

The remains of a bridge that was part of the Damascus-Haifa railway are visible during this climb.

The remainder of Monday’s climb is more gentle. The route covers 55 km (34 mi) of climbs up to Kibbutz Ein Zevan in the northern Golan Heights. For hours of spectacular riding, Mount Hermon will be visible in on the horizon.

As we get closer, you will be able to see more details of this beautiful mountain, the largest in Israel.  Yet just when it seems we are close enough to reach out and touch the snow-capped peaks, we turn and head back for home. Don’t worry, tomorrow we will ride up the mountain. Today all riders should gain an appreciation for the vast area of the Golan.

As the map shows, today’s ride has basically encircled the entire Golan. From the kibbutz, Challenge riders will surely enjoy the long, pleasant descent back to the Kinneret and the hotel.

Sleep well Monday night because Tuesday will be epic.

 

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance 160 km (100 mi), Overall Climb 2,854 m (9,363 ft)

A century with Israel’s highest peak in the middle

To begin the third day of riding, the route heads north to the Golan Heights. A short climb marks the beginning of the Golan. Continuing further north, the mountains of Lebanon close in from the east.

The ride passes the Hula Valley where millions of birds from Europe, Africa, and Asia visit during their biannual migration. Continuing north, we ride into the narrow “finger” of Israel. To our east is Syria. To our north AND west are the mountains of Lebanon.

In fact, you can see Israel’s neighbors everywhere you look except back over your shoulder. The route arrives at Kibbutz Dafna at the base of Mt. Hermon, Israel’s only ski resort. Riders will attack Israel’s highest peak which straddles the border with Syria.

The climb

The route heads uphill for 32 km with grades of 8%-10% most of the time. The difficulty of the climb is matched by the natural beauty. The views become more spectacular with every kilometer. At times, it seems like the climb will never end. The road winds back and forth across the mountain. Near the summit are three Druse villages. The higher the elevation, the colder it will be.

At the summit, it can be quite cold especially when the wind is blowing. The plan is to ride up to the parking lot at the Neve Ativ Ski Resort. Please note that the final decision where to end the day’s ride will take into account both the weather and political considerations. It will be made at the last minute.

The rest stop at the top of the Hermon will be short. There are still miles to go before you sleep.

The remainder of the day’s century goes down the Hermon and crosses the Golan before arriving at the hotel. This must be done before dark.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 78 km (48.4 mi), Overall climb: 858 m (2,815 ft)

Recovery day

Unlike the previous two days, on Wednesday the route heads south and west, away from the Golan. While the distance is only half of Monday’s ride, there is still one significant climb. From the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee and the Tzemach Junction, the route will go through lush farmlands where bananas, dates and wheat grow. This is also the region known for fish ponds that supply fresh fish to most of the country all year round.

Wild flowers line the route to Belvoir Castle, a Crusader fortress called Kohav HaYarden (Star of the Jordan) in Hebrew. Despite having scaled the Hermon on Tuesday, this is still a serious  climb. It winds back and forth up the mountain. The climb up to the fortress is 7 kilometers of very hard riding.

As its name suggests, Belvoir dominates the entire area.

The plan is to have a leisurely break at the summit in order to appreciate the impressive views from the walls of the castle where construction began in 1168. The castle was the site of a major battle in which Saladin defeated the Crusaders.

The military battles of the past have given way to cool breezes. Thoroughly rested, riders continue back down towards Bet Shean which we visited on Sunday. The day will end with a celebration hosted by WOL riders who live on kibbutzim in the Jordan and Jezreel valleys.

Before boarding the buses to Jerusalem, riders will be treated to fruits, nuts and wine produced in kibbutzim in Israel’s north. Wednesday evening is the final time that all riders will be together.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Distance: 66.5 km (41 mi),. Overall climb: 1,397 m (4,583 ft)

On to ALYN

After breakfast buses will take all riders to Mini Israel, near Latrun, to begin riding. This is one of Israel’s most popular areas for bicycling. Long, open roads through rolling hills rise up to meet riders who will enjoy each other’s company for one last day. On the final day of WOL 2017, the route snakes through the Judean Hills and finishes at Alyn Hospital. All Wheels of Love riders will meet at the Kerem Junction. Everyone – Challenge, On Road, Off Road and GalgAlyn (one day) riders – will climb together up to Jerusalem and Alyn Hospital.

The finish line

The scene is extraordinary as 600 bicyclists all wearing yellow ALYN jerseys, ride on residential streets and turn into the hospital. Crowds are cheering this impressive accomplishment. Riders have covered hundreds of kilometers and have climbed some of Israel’s highest peaks.

An escort of ALYN kids riding handbikes leads the riders to the finish line. Veteran riders admit that this is always an emotional ending to an amazing five days. Riders will meet some of the children whose lives are directly affected by the Wheels of Love.

The children will be on hand to award all riders medallions commemorating this year’s accomplishments. It’s time to get off the bikes, meet family and friends and say hello to the children of ALYN. All this while also saying goodbye to old friends, some of whom you met just five days before.

The children

Wheels of Love riders challenge themselves by training all year to be able to ride for five days. For the children of Alyn, their challenges are no less impressive, even if they involve wheel chairs and inhalators.

A short ceremony will conclude the festivities as riders hear the amount that was raised for the children of Alyn this year. As the sun sets, everyone heads home. Riders from Israel and 14 countries around the world will bid farewell to one another. With jerseys that will one day be clean again. And bikes that have ridden hundreds of kilometers, all 600 riders can be proud of the achievement to benefit the children of ALYN.

Until next year in Jerusalem!

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

Can’t make the Wheels of Love ride but want to help?

If you are unable to ride in the 2017 Wheels of Love ride but still want to help the children of ALYN, become a virtual rider. Virtual riders will be listed on our rider list and can earn the same fundraising incentives as any other rider.

Once you raise $750, we will send you a 2017 ALYN Wheels of Love riding jersey. Some virtual riders ride the same distance as each day’s route on Wheels of Love. Some even do it wearing ALYN gear to show everyone that you support the work of ALYN. If you would like to register as a virtual rider (free of charge of course), please email registration@alynactive.org with the subject line “virtual rider.”

Ride Wheels of Love for one day

REGISTRATION OPEN — CLICK HERE 

This year, the single day ALYN ride, “GalgALYN”, will take place on Thursday, November 2 – the final day of Wheels of Love 2017.

We understand that many people would love to participate in the full week-long ride, but are simply not able to take so many days off. That’s why we offer GalgALYN, a taste of the magic of ALYN’s Wheels of Love Ride. Riders choose either the on-road course that climbs and descends through the historic Judean hills or the challenging off-road course that takes riders on special paths for unique perspectives that many who live here never get to see.

All routes begin at Mini-Israel by Latrun and will finish with an extraordinary challenging climb up to Jerusalem and ALYN Hospital where the children of ALYN greet the riders in an emotional finish to the world’s top charity bike ride. Single day riders pay a 300 NIS registration fee and undertake to raise 750 NIS in tax deductible donations. Besides participating in a fully supported ride with lunch and lavish pit stops, riders receive the famous ALYN riding jersey.

Busing is available from Har Hertzl at 6:00 AM to the start at Mini-Israel. Alternatively, riders can leave their cars at Mini-Israel and take our shuttle bus back after the ride. To reserve a place on the bus, please email alynactive@alyn.org.

So please join us for an unforgettable experience. Enjoy a memorable day of riding on behalf of very special children who will profoundly inspire you.

 

Distance: 42 km (26 mi),  Elevation: 1,000 m (3,280 ft)

Busing is available from Har Hertzl at 6:00 AM to the start at Mini-Israel. Alternatively, riders can leave their cars at Mini-Israel and take our shuttle bus back after the ride. To reserve a place on the bus, please email alynactive@alyn.org.

The Burma trail

The one day off road ride goes through the verdant Judean Hills to finish at ALYN Hospital.

We begin the ride at 7:30 sharp at Mini Israel near Latrun. The Off Road route includes the dense forest around the Armored Corps Memorial. Shaded trails go past Neve Shalom, a cooperative Jewish-Arab village and on to the Burma Road, the makeshift road between Kibbutz Hulda and Jerusalem that was engineered by US Army Col. David “Mickey” Marcus during the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. This road is the subject of the movie “To Cast a Giant Shadow.”

Crossing under Road No. 38 that connects Bet Shemesh to the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, there is a series of climbs and descents all leading to Sataf National Park. After lunch, all Wheels of Love groups will ride together. First down to the Kerem Junction near the village of Ein Kerem, and then one final challenging climb up to ALYN Hospital.

The children of ALYN are waiting

Entering the hospital is always an emotional end to an amazing ride. Friends, family and the children of Alyn and their families, all greet the riders. Some of the children who directly benefit from the ride’s fundraising, are on hand to award medallions to all the riders.

These medallions symbolize challenges and courage. For some of the children of Alyn, being able to place a ribbon around a rider’s neck is no less of a challenge.

After enjoying light refreshments, there will be a very short closing ceremony highlighted by announcing the amount raised by the riders up to the end of the ride.

Then with the dramatic Jerusalem sunset in the background, old and new friends bid farewell to each other.

Until next year’s Wheels of Love.

FOR FULL MAP, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

 

Single day on road riders will join the five day riders for the ride from Mini-Israel to ALYN Hospital.

Distance: 51 km (32 mi),   Elevation 1,300 m (4,265 ft)

Busing is available from Har Hertzl at 6:00 AM to the start at Mini-Israel. Alternatively, riders can leave their cars at Mini-Israel and take our shuttle bus back after the ride. To reserve a place on the bus, please email alynactive@alyn.org.

The climb up Nes Harim

The ride will start near Latrun in one of Israel’s most popular areas for bicycling. Long, open roads through rolling hills rise up to meet riders who will enjoy each other’s company for one last day. On the final day of WOL 2017, the route snakes through the Judean Hills and finishes at Alyn Hospital.

One of the day’s two major climbs is up to the monument to the Challenger Spacecraft crew and Moshav Nes Harim. This area is the American Independence Park which was developed by KKL/JNF to celebrate the American bicentennial. This section of the route begins with a short climb. There are kilometer markers on the side of the road (except for Km 3). One of the things you will have learned in the Golan Heights is the concept of pacing yourself on climbs. This is especially true in the Jerusalem Hills.

Here’s what to expect:

Km 1-2: Very easy.

Km 2-3: You’ll think this is the hard part but it isn’t. The shoulders are fairly wide but will probably be in the sun.

Km 3-4: This is the hard part so gauge yourself. There are no heroes on this climb. Let your bike do as much work as it can. At the top of the hill (just after Km 4), grab a space in the shade if you want to rest for a few minutes. After a dip in the road, the climb continues.

Km 5: The end of the first part of the climb is in sight. Just before the road turns to the right you will see the Challenger monument and the road leading to the Stalactite Cave on the left. This year’s route does not go left.

Km 6-7: There’s a bit of a climb at  the marker is painted on the road and then a semi-serious climb that starts before Km 7 and continues for another 500 m.

Km 8-10: There are two more quick climbs between Km 8 and Bar BaHar which is just past Km 10. This is the lunch stop.

The entrance is on the left. After lunch, there is an invigorating 5 km descent with just a small hill thrown in. On the downhill, please pay attention to riders around you. Not everyone rides at your pace. If you want to ride slowly, please stay to the right.

Whatever you do, DON’T RIDE YOUR BRAKES on the downhill. At the bottom of the hill there is a railroad bridge. The next 8 km are rolling hills with an overall slight gain in elevation. All Wheels of Love riders will meet at the Kerem Junction. Everyone – Challenge, On Road, Off Road and GalgAlyn (one day) riders – will climb together up to Jerusalem and Alyn Hospital. This is the second serious climb. Take your time and be aware of other riders.

The Goal

The scene is extraordinary as 600 bicyclists all wearing yellow ALYN jerseys, ride on residential streets and then turn into the hospital. Crowds are cheering this impressive accomplishment. Riders have covered hundreds of kilometers and have climbed some of Israel’s highest peaks.

Veteran riders admit that this is always an emotional ending to an amazing five days. Riders will meet some of the children whose lives are directly affected by the Wheels of Love.

The children will award all riders medallions commemorating this year’s accomplishments. It’s time to get off the bikes, meet family and friends and have something to eat and drink. Simultaneously you will have a chance to say goodbye to old friends, some of whom you met just five days before.

The Children of ALYN

And there are the children.

Wheels of Love riders challenge themselves by training all year to be able to ride for five days. For the children of ALYN, their challenges are no less impressive, even if they involve wheel chairs and inhalators.

An escort of ALYN children lead all the riders to the finish line on handbikes.

A short ceremony will conclude the festivities as riders hear the amount that was raised for the children of ALYN this year. As the sun sets, everyone heads home. Riders from Israel and 14  countries around the world will bid a fond farewell.. With jerseys that will one day be clean again. And bikes that have ridden hundreds of kilometers, all 600 riders can be proud of their achievement to benefit the children of ALYN.

Until next year in Jerusalem.

FOR FULL MAP WITH ELEVATION, CLICK HERE.

AMOTBank LeumiAdamaAhavaBresheetBezeqCheck PointCLALCushman WakefieldEsopBio BeeBoeingEin GediFinneganGM JerseyGolan Heights WineryGoodwin ProcterICLNoble EnergyMobile EyeMTFOramedProvident PaymentsRA AbstractResmedRodman RenshawSabraShapiro BeerShomeraTiyul AcherXOXOZagnyOmrixTwillory
$2,894,577
Money Raised
96% raised of $3,000,000
$2,894,577
Money Raised
96% raised of $3,000,000
Wheels of Love 2017