On Friday, October 3rd, I rode my bike down the middle of the highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and back.
Friday night through Saturday night was Yom Kippur, one of the most important days in all of Judaism. The entire country shuts down for 24 hours, and no one drives.
So we had the roads to ourselves.
I rode with Alon. At ~125km, it was the longest ride he’s ever done. And having worked 7 days a week prior to this trip (which left no time for long rides), it was the longest ride I had done in possibly a year or more.
Because everything was closed, we had to carry all our water for the ride. And because it’s Israel, it was really hot, even at night. We each brought 7 liters of water in our backpacks.
There were still a few cars on the road, mostly police and presumably people with emergencies of same nature, but for the most part we had the highway to ourselves. Some of the communities along the way had even temporarily gated their entrances, preventing people from driving in or out.
Tel Aviv is at sea level, but Jerusalem is 2,500ft above sea level. Which meant the ride out there was averaged almost 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile when you factor in the ups-and-downs along the way. And with all that water, it was pretty challenging.
We saw no one else riding that direction.
When we got to Jerusalem, we tried to quickly and inconspicuously eat (since on Yom Kippur, people fast for 24 hours). We also rushed because it was so much colder, and after hours of biking uphill in thin cycling clothes in the heat, our sweat quickly began to freeze us once we stopped.
On the way back we saw tons more people, including a group of fixed gear riders, a large contingent of in-line skaters, and even a girl on a green rental bike (a super heavy, 3-speed bike just like the CitiBikes in NYC or Hubways in Boston).
It was amazing to have a perfectly paved, wide open highway to bomb down the 13 mile hill back toward Tel Aviv on.
We left just before 5 and got back just after 10pm. Not the fastest pace, but the ride was about the experience, not the speed. And it was definitely an amazing time.