I started Crossing the Yarden long before cancer, and I intend to write it long after Stella has a complete recovery. So not every post will be about the Matsav. Of course, if you are wondering, Stella had a bit of a rough week from chemo but is now doing fine as we anticipate surgery on January 1.
It had all the trappings of a classic cycling competition. Alberto Contador is the three time winner of the Tour de France, two time winner of the Tour of Italy (Giro), and one time winner of the Tour of Spain. I am the winner of a spring training race in Prospect Park, circa 1984 and five time participant in the Alyn Charity Ride (not a race — or so they have to tell me every year.) I am sure that Alberto has been nervously anticipating racing against me ever since Lance Armstrong retired.
Let me just say, I am a Chassid of Lance Armstrong and am in no way a fan of Alberto, who has dissed my hero on several occasions. But I will admit that Alberto is most likely the best cyclist in the world right now, and one of the best ever. I am extremely proud that he came to Israel with his whole team. Sure, Robert Kraft comes here a lot, but has he ever brought the entire New England Patriots team for a solid ten days of training? Nu?
Alberto rides for the Saxo Bank team, one of the top professional teams in the world. I am not exactly sure how it happened, but Saxo Bank decided to have their first training camp of the season here in Israel. While the other top teams are holding their camps in warm exotic places, Saxo Bank came to Israel and even spent time performing charity work.
When there are those in the world who shun Israel and refuse to travel here, Saxo Bank not only came but held a race through the Old City. Big props to the whole team. I am so impressed with them, that it will be very difficult for me to root against them in this year’s Tour (of course I must, because that’s what sports fans do. But still…..)
Last week I got an e-mail from Alyn saying they are looking for a group of riders to accompany Alberto, Mayor Nir Barkat, and the rest of the Saxo Bank team on a ride through the Old City Tuesday evening. As a cyclist, this was just too huge an opportunity to pass up. I figured I would ride alongside Alberto for a little while, tell him about riding in Israel, then let him eat my dust while staring at the back of my Livestrong helmet.
I drove to Talpiot, parked the car, and rode to the Jaffa Gate. My first sense that I had somehow missed something in the translation was when I saw the massive crowds behind police barricades leading up to the Old City. Then above the Jaffa Gate was a huge sign that said “Start of Bike Race.’ Hmm……