Magic Carpet Ride
71“Cycling [in Israel]…has been developing at an impressive rate – at both the amateur and competitive levels…Anyone seeing this for the first time simply cannot believe the immense popularity of the sport.” Itzik Hoffman, Israeli cyclist
My first encounter with cyclists from the Middle East was with Israeli racers in Belgium. Like other non-european hopefuls racing in 72diaspora, they had come for the conditioning and initiation to the bike racer’s holy land. Kermesse means, after all, church mass associated with village feasts, due to the “race around the church” circuits in the Low Countries. Now euro-elites return to Eden for cycling paradise. Lance Armstrong visited Israel to open a new cycling route to commemorate Israel’s Independence Day. The nation is also host to: a pro mountain bike training camp to enjoy temperate climbing in pre-season, and an elite espoir team that races in Europe.
As an interesting twist on the Middle East peace process, a bicycle rally to save the Dead Sea saw Israel in cooperation with Jordan. ASO, the Tour de France promoters, also organize the early season tune-up Tour of Qatar, the most prestigious race in the UCI Asia Tour. Getting this kind of international and inter-organization cooperation seems to take a genie in a bottle, or should I say bidon. Where these paths cross was an ancient trade route which now emanates to the ends of the earth not on camels but as oil geopolitics. Now top teams use the desert tour as preparation for Spring Classics in Europe. A bit different from camel caravans of old, this modern magic carpet ride puts lycra next to burkhas while top sprinters test fresh legs. Foreign policy rhetoric with war-like tones is put aside when American pros line up next to a fully-kitted Iranian squad, for instance. If we could just work out our differences from the perch of a saddle, many lives and a lot of resources of energy could be reallocated to peaceful uses.
Prayer for Middle East Cycling
“…in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”73 Acts 1:8
We are amazed by increasing world-wide opportunities in high-level racing. We ask for politics to be put aside for the sake of cycling’s universal esprit d’corps and blessing upon cycling in the Middle East.
Ponder Can I schedule time in ancient lands into my cycling itinerary? Affirm I can discover the magic of the old spice routes. Watch cycling’s peace process.
71“Riding Along on a Pushbike, Honey,” by Ronny Linder-Ganz posted 11/10/2005 on Israeli news site www.haaretz.com
72Diaspora means “the scattered.” “The term diaspora (in Ancient Greek, διασπορά – ‘a scattering or sowing of seeds’) refers to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture.” www.wikipedia.com
73The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson