CanVelo is a club that was formed by volunteers at our center. In Hebrew CanVelo means "Yes & No" referring to the sighted and non-sighted members of the group. Visually impaired riders sit on the back, and sighted volunteers on the front of tandem bikes, as the group takes rides throughout Israel every weekend. This group traveled to Romania for a ride into the mountains where they laid a wreath at the site of a helicopter crash that killed the entire Israeli crew. This report comes from Alona - one of our volunteers and the "Angel of Tel Aviv":
Our bike tour of the Carpathian Mountains had been planned & mapped out very carefully & thoughtfully by Rony & Co .We all knew the planned route & sights-to-be-seen but still we never dreamed of the exciting & challenging & fun trip awaiting us, 29 bikers, men & women, younger & less young, sighted & less sighted.
The cooperation & cohesiveness of the group was evident even two days before the trip, when we met at Beit Oved to take apart & box the tandem bikes & the 'singles' for the flight.
After our arrival in Bucharest where our bus awaited us for the ride to Sinaia, two hours north of Bucharest, we settled into our rooms, re-assembled our tandem bikes & 'singles,' breakfasted & headed out for our first day of biking. Actually we were bussed up to a ski run called Cota 1400 where we re-met with our bikes. So our first ride was downhill (!), then, of course, uphill to an outlook of the Prachova valley & downhill again for a rest, coffee & ice cream in a lovely mountain meadow, Stana Regala, surrounded by green forests & clear skies. Yoni, our guide, surprised us with his musical abilities pulling out & playing his recorder! We actually sang some old fashioned Israeli tunes in that green, green meadow with only the birds & the bears as an audience! (Also, the staff of the restaurant)
Perhaps here I can describe my special feeling when I bike with CanVelo: In order for everyone to "see" the view, I like to describe, in as much detail as I can, what surrounds us, who is with us, whether it's sunny & cloudy, if there's fruit on the trees, what's ahead of us, etc. For me the tour becomes more vivid & unforgettable as I describe what I see. And, I hope for the blind riders as well. Also we do stop often so those who are sight-impaired can actually feel the fruit, the flowers, the water, even the walls of old castles, churches, bridges...
On the second day, along the way, we climbed into a large cave wrought by a fast running stream. We climbed up to another outlook over another valley. Lunch was set out for us alongside a cold, clear mountain stream under the canopy of huge conifers. We were joined by a family of gypsies who offer to sell us their freshly picked raspberries. But, after we gifted them with watermelon, cookies & sweets....they honored us with the berries. Their means of transport...a mangy horse & solid wooden cart. (Israeli watermelon is much, much sweeter!)
After dinner that evening at the Sinaia Hotel, all of us (i.e. the CanVelo Group) "took over" the dance floor. We discovered some hidden talents among the group: Moti, Margalit, Lilly & others.
Each day was different & each ride was special. Biking through fields & forests, villages & towns surrounded by the sounds of nature: birds, wind-in-the-trees, running brooks, dogs barking, even the clip-clop of horses' hooves,
really the ideal way to relax & refresh the spirit as well as the body.
We all anticipated the day we would try our skills in Adventure Park, Brashov. It is a climbing, swinging, balancing rope course designed to challenge your sense of balance, your fear of heights & get your adrenalin flowing!!! After a short explanation in English of the rules & regulations we took to the trees! Mountain biking is one thing, this is another challenge completely! Each sight-impaired Canvelo-er was accompanied by a sighted biker. Can you just imagine the concentration, patience & sheer guts needed to run the course blind-folded!? I think those who helped the blind complete the rope course were doubly successful: once that they succeeded & again that their partners succeeded as well! Kol HaCavod!
Finally, on our last day of biking we biked over one thousand meters up & over fifty kilometers in order to reach the Israeil Memorial sight honoring the helicopter crew that crashed two years ago during a training flight on the Buchech mountain range. Rony & Pnina led a short, moving ceremony which marked the end of our journey/vacation.
I could continue with more & more details, events, sights, sounds & tastes of our adventure in Romania but I think you can tell that we all returned home elated, relaxed & a bit tired as well.
Related by Alona, THE TEL AVIV ANGEL
Amit Bar-El was a soldier fighting house-to-house during the 2006 Lebanon War. As he rushed to the aid of a wounded comrade, Amit opened a door only to have a rocket fly past and explode in the wall next to him. He received multiple shrapnel wounds
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