One thing I want to add to yesterday was a discussion about food, what else? We asked Assaf if we should eat at the kibbutz or in a nearby restaurant. He just shrugged, leaving the decision to us. We wanted some more information on the kibbutz restaurant and asked what the food was like there. So he shrugged again and said, ‘it’s kibbutz food, you get kibbutz food there and restaurant food in the restaurant!!’ Well it was typically Israeli and very funny at the time. I think he was really steering us to eat out but wanted us to make our own decision.
Back to today.
I woke before the 6.20 alarm after a good sleep. It was nice and cool on the balcony ad there was a lovely peaceful sunrise at 6.00.
After a very nice ‘kibbutz breakfast’ (the restaurant would have been fine) we started our cycle at 7.45. It was lovely and cool to start with but heated up from 9. You can really feel the heat of the sun and I think the temperature will start to feature a lot over the next few days as it’s becoming something we have to learn to deal with.
They were nice roads but mainly single carriage A type roads. We cycled on the hard shoulder but sometimes it was only a few feet wide and gravelly. Sometimes nothing at all, when we stay close to the yellow line that marks the road edge. They must have the largest cats eyes in the roads here because if we cycle over one it shakes the whole bike which can be quite off putting.
I was leading at the start, although there was no particular plan, it just happened that I saw a cycle path parallel to the road which was was nice but had to slow down to let a few older generation by in their motorised buggy pass – one with flappy sides didn’t leave us much room or slow down.
The first half of the day was nice rolling roads with the farming of the Jordan Valley on our left and the Jordanian hills beyond that. Lots of covered fields, ploughed fields, tractors and farm vehicles. This is the traditional food growing region of Israel.
After a bit, we all all started cycling together at a nice pace and it was good to be a whole group.
About half way, we stopped at Bet Shean National Park. It is an excavation of a roman village that was once very grand and extensive. Assaf guided us around for an hour and a half, he is very knowledgeable and a really good guy. The city was important because it was on a trade route that linked Europe, Egypt and the East (it’s late and that’s probably not quite correct!). He has a topographical map of the area and showed us the valleys and mountain ranges with Bet Shean on a junction of all three. We learned about the Roman layout of the towns with bath houses for the wealthy, marketplaces, whore houses, living areas, amphitheatre and communal toilets. Fascinating stuff.
We then carried on for a few miles to the natural spring lakes that provide water to the Roman town and is now a beautiful park and swimming area. We were there for over 3 hours, swimming, having lunch and generally relaxing. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip and it didn’t disappoint. There was a bonus of a foot pedicure from the fish in the lakes if you stayed still enough of just sat with your feet in the water. I didn’t like it much though! The water was so clear and fresh it was perfect for today.
Then at 3pm we set off for the final hour to our accommodation, a large house on a kibbutz that we are all staying in. Anyway it must have been 90+ degrees out there and it felt like cycling in an oven – a fan oven on full blast into our faces. It was, as you may guess, boiling and very hard work. We were all drinking so much water and stopping to fill up from the van when needed. The road was busier and had roadworks on it. Large lorries passing by giving us a moment respite in their shadow. Assaf drove behind us to stop anything passing us when the road was at it’s narrowest due to the roadworks.
We had to stop for a rest after 45 minutes as I was finding it really hard. The heat just saps your energy and it’s hard to cool down. I was pleased to know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Assaf tells us to drink more and we do. The colour of our pee has now entered conversation!
We only had a mile or so to go but most of that was uphill. We were all so pleased to get there. Although it seems we had rested a lot we were tired. Alan reminds me that we swam quite a bit too today and we agree that was the reason!
The house/villa is lovely, as are the gardens, pool and hot tub. We spent some time in the latter 2 and had a good laugh. I started the blog then, writing up some points but didn’t get to write it up fully.
Dinner was at a local restaurant which was very good – the nicest whole trout I have had in a long time, but most disappointing profiteroles (which I didn’t need or eat in the end).
There is much talk of tomorrow, it’s our longest day at approx 73 miles and it’s going to be another scorcher. That’s why we will start early, aiming to leave at 6.30 so we can get a good few miles in before it gets really hot. I’m not too excited by the thought but know we will grind it out – after all we knew it would be hot here, just not this hot!
Oh yes, I dropped my water bottle again today and can’t work out why! This time it was when Assaf was following near the roadworks and he stopped behind me, I found my bottle (I must not lose that!) after he had run it over with the van! It seems ok though.
That’s it for today, there is more to tell but it’s now 10.40pm and I’ve had enough.
Stats for today from mapmyride app: