A long while ago, Hazon adopted a pun for its bike rides. As Jews we are often known as "The People of the Book", so Hazon adopted the slogan "The People of the Bike" (ba da boom).
As well as a couple of hundred riders, there was an amazing crew to support us, and they had their own slogan: "The People off the Bike".
On Sunday evening, after the first day of the ride, we arrived at Surprise Lake Camp for dinner. Following a great cookout and some chatting, we had mid-ride circle time. In the camp's large gym, we all stood in a circle. Being half way through the ride there were only riders and crew. Nigel called out categories and those who fit the category would jump to the center of the circle so we could see how many different kinds of people we were. Here are some of the categories:
1) people who rode the century route (100m, instead of the standard route of 65m) on day 1
2) people who are over 60
3) people who are under 18
4) riders who took the party bus during the day
5) people who travelled more than 200m to start the ride (and 500m, and 2000m)
6) people for whom it was their first Hazon ride (and fifth or more)
7) people for whom the day's ride was a personal distance record
8) people riding with family members
and so on...
By seeing the diversity of backgrounds, experience and interest we were able to see what draws us together. It was a great deal of fun, and energized the group for a route briefing for the second day before we headed off to sleep. Hannah and I had registered for the accomodation "upgrade" to a local hotel with a couple of dozen others, to avoid the very rustic nature of camp sleeping.
I covered day 2 in an earlier posting, so I will jump forward to the roof of the JCC in Manhattan, where we had the closing ceremonies. This was equally fun and more emotional. Many new friendships had been made. Many riders (Hannah and I included) had ridden well, and over much longer distances than we ever had previously. Those most closely involved with organizing (both lay and professional) had spent huge amounts of time together and were seeing the fruits of their labor. As well as closing remarks from some of these leaders, Nigel invited invidividual participants to share some of their impressions, thoughts, feelings at the close of the ride.
Hazon is an idealistic organization - the word means Vision - and if we were measuring the nurturing of idealism and vision in the ride participants, then we were scoring very high. One rider who had been on the Stanford bike racing team talked emotionally of how wonderful it was to get his wife, an "indoor girl in high-heels", onto the ride and how proud he was of her efforts and success. Another woman spoke of how inspired she was by the Arava Institute alumni, and others of their own personal achievements.
We sang the Shehechiyanu blessing, which is a Jewish prayer thanking God "who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this time", and is recited at holidays and when special events occur. There was no doubt this was a special event for us all.
As I write, it is 8.00am on Sunday morning. Exactly a week ago Hannah and I had just embarked on the ride (we were probably struggling with her bike in the rain right around now). The intervening week has attenuated the high emotions, but not our high enthusiasm. Watch for us next year at the Hazon NY 2007 ride ... better yet, join us!
While you can, and if you haven't, please go ahead and sponsor Hannah or me for the Hazon 2006 New York Bike ride.