It’s already three days since we completed Dan-to-Beersheva, and my last blog is still left dangling with us seeing Tel Beersheva “just a mile or so down the hill.” We did indeed glide down that very hill and through the entry to the Tel (which is a National Park) at 11:16am, Tuesday 1 April. All riders intact with all fingers and toes present and accounted for.
Our friend Deb O’Bannon from Adat Yeshua, Kansas City, who is currently in Beersheva doing post-doctorate work at Ben Gurion U., was on hand to photograph the momentous event. We found Asaf in the parking lot, ready to pack up our bikes and rental equipment and return them to the outfitter. Avi arrived a moment later. He is part of the D2B team, and my main bike partner in New Mexico and fellow planner for the whole event, but he wasn’t able to join us because his father, who lives in Israel (with the rest of Avi’s family) had taken ill.
We put the D2B t-shirt on Avi and go into the shaded area of the Tel for our concluding medals ceremony. This was Elliot’s idea and it’s right on target—we need to conclude this ride with a ritual that captures the vision and accomplishment: 300 miles over Israeli back roads and highways, every meter of the way from Dan to Beersheva, over some tough climbs, through long, peaceful stretches, on the shoulder of major thoroughfares, weaving through crowded city streets and an even more crowded pedestrian walkway at Tel Aviv harbor; stopping to pray and share tzedaka—$10,000 in all—with ten different Yeshua-believing groups serving Israel, both Jewish and Arab, from the hills of Galilee to the oasis town of Omer. And, as I’ve said, the whole ride itself was a prayer, enacting the promise of restoration for all Israel—the Jewish people as a whole—from Dan to Beersheva.
Elliot highlights the ceremony with a word about each rider:
• Chris and his two sons Collin and Garrett, who flew in from Tokyo where Chris works as an engineer; strong, straight-up cyclists, who are consistently positive, helpful, reflecting Yeshua’s servant spirit, and fun too.
• Tovik, our Hebrew interpreter and sometime guide, who is new to cycling and a real trooper, with the same positive attitude as Chris, Collin, and Garrett.
(In fact, I was consistently amazed at the upbeat, never-complaining, always cheerful attitude of all the team members—riders and support—so just apply that to the whole list as we go.)
• Jeff, my good friend from Albuquerque, like Chris one of the team mechanics, who recently returned to bike riding after many years and ended really strong.
• George, another good friend from Albuquerque and our team doctor (although we hardly needed one). He trained in the foothills of the Sandias and really ate up the climbs on the second half of our ride.
• Avi, my bike buddy from Albuquerque and fellow visionary for months leading up to the ride.
• Elliot, biking animal, team attorney (although again we didn’t need one), and my encourager when it looked like things might not come together a few months ago.
• Me, the team rabbi—and we did need one.
• Joyce, support team driver, whose courage and proficiency with a stick-shift 9-passenger van escorting bikes through heavy traffic and along broad highways were amazing.
• Tamar, support team navigator, who was ever-helpful and cheerful, and a welcome sight at various right and left turns waving us in the right direction and encouraging us to keep pedaling.
We parted with Joyce and Elliot, who had other missions of mercy to pursue, shortly after the ride, and spent a few hours in Tel Aviv, where Tovik and Tamar, who are staying on in Israel, went their separate ways. Then, not long after dark, I dropped the rest of the team at the airport with a bittersweet farewell, and returned to Beit Immanuel guesthouse in Tel Aviv to spend the night. The next morning, before taking off, I talked with Pedro, who had helped us with organizational details there. He’s a mountain biker and really impressed with Dan to Beersheva. He said it should become an annual event with lots of Israeli Messianics making the ride and praying for all Israel. I agreed and told him I’m ready to hand over the whole vision—along with everything I learned along the way.