Awoke at 6:30, on our bikes at 7:30, leaving Jerusalem for Ashkelon. 63 miles today. 4100 feet of climbing, 5700 feet of descent. Started with an almost 6 mile climb- brutal really, though the descent that followed was great. Surrounded by hills that gradually stretched out to valleys, valleys that stretched out to fields, fields that emptied into rural areas, rural areas that finally connected to the outskirts of Ashkelon, an ancient seaboard. As we entered the city, the sea sprang upon us, welcoming a difficult by gratifying day, sore and somewhat relieved to have not fallen, and to have made many new friends. Practicing safety, looking at Israeli signs in Hebrew, English and Arabic, having police escorts to cross some busy intersections. Must have drunk 2 gallons of fluids, eaten 5 power bars, a ton of nuts, three large meals, and spent 4000 calories.
Several highlights: Lunch at Bet Guvrin, an ancient Roman Settlement with caves used for burial of royalty, now a park; biking through Emiek HaEla, the site of battle between David and Goliath, coming across a Palestinian wedding, hearing about a joint ARAVA project that examines the Jordan river flow and how to restore what is now 10 times less than the turn of the century, meeting several people who knew all my family in Atlanta, and best of all lots of Carolina UNC alumni. Small world indeed. Off to bed at 11 pm, have to be up at 5:00 am tomorrow.
More pictures from Day 2: