My regular evening ride takes me past the Arab village of Jaaba. From Jaaba back to the Gush, the road is long and steep. There is no shade and when it’s hot out, it feels like the hill will never end. I ride the route partly because of the beautiful views as you climb along, but mostly because it is a great workout.
Sometimes I try and race against the big trucks which look like they will never make it up the hill. There is not that much traffic on the road, but what there is contains a mixture of Arab and Jew, cars, trucks, and donkeys. Sometimes I feel a little nervous when I am close to Jaaba, but not enough to make me change my route. I just try and pick up the speed when I get too close.
So last night, as I made the turn at Jaaba, an Arab kid on a bike came racing up to me and passed by. I had been riding at a casual speed, but I figured what the heck and took off after him. We stayed together until the bottom of the hill. That’s when I figured he would turn around and ride home while I tackled the ascent. He looked over at me and I said in Hebrew that he should ride with me up to Kfar Etzion, 3km away at the top of the hill. He stared back at me blankly so I just pointed. He grinned and took off.
I upped the speed and stayed about ten meters back. I was sure that he would crack since his bike is the kind that you can pick up for free by a dumpster. He was wearing jeans and sandals compared to my Louis Garneu bike shorts and shoes clipped into my pedals. I had a water backpack while he had nothing whatsoever. So I figured, hey — I can take this kid any day.
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