Bicyclists take part in the annual Israel Ride. Bicyclists take part in the annual Israel Ride. Bicyclists take part in the annual Israel Ride. (Photo: Facebook)

Looking for a bicycling vacation?

With rides taking place throughout the year, this Mediterranean country is gearing up for more tourists.

With frigid temperatures gripping the East Coast, riding your bike through the Mediterranean countryside sounds like the perfect antidote for the winter doldrums. But don't daydream about that ride for too long. Put down that cup of hot cocoa, as now's the time to book your spring and summer bicycling vacation.

So where to go? Well, while France and Italy have long been a bicyclist's paradise, the nearby country of Israel is now coming out from behind their shadows to become a tourist destination for cycling enthusiasts.

Take, for example, the Arava Institute. Each fall, the Israel-based organization hosts a ride from the city of Jerusalem to the beachside town of Eilat. Can't wait till October? No worries. The JNF, a nonprofit which has planted millions of trees in Israel, is hosting a ride in March. During the week-long trip, riders will get a guided tour through a national park and the Dead Sea canyons. And what if your significant other doesn't like to ride? No worries. While your spouse or loved one is cycling, this trip offers activities for those staying behind – including cooking workshops and a 4X4 Jeep tour of the area.

In between these two rides in 2018 will be the Giro d'Italia, an annual race that takes place each May in Italy. Hoping to make the event more of an international affair, this year's race – the 101st edition – will open on the streets of Jerusalem before returning to Italy for the remainder of the competition. The entire route is more than 2,000 miles long, with the cyclists riding about 100 miles a day.

In Israel, the cyclists will traverse the entire country: starting in the north in the port city of Haifa, traveling down the coast to Tel Aviv, passing through the Ramon Crater (one of the largest craters in the world) and ending in the beachside town of Eilat. Three weeks after starting, the racers will cross the finish line in Rome at the historic Coliseum.

“Israel’s weather and terrain offer some of the best conditions for cyclists and triathletes that exist anywhere in the world," said Sylvan Adams, who helped establish the Israel Cycling Academy.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has become known as one of the world's great cities to bike to work. (A recent episode of Netflix's "Somebody Feed Phil" showed the host singing the praises of the Mediterranean metropolis' tree-lined bike lanes.)

So what are you waiting for? Spring and summer are right around the corner.


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