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Capital District YMCA – Travel Information



Capital District YMCA


In partnership with the Jerusalem International YMCA & GranFondo Israel



YMCA Bike Israel 2016


Travel Dates:  November – December , 2016


Cost:  $3525 adventure trip costs and $1600 airfare, totaling $5125


  • ·        $500 nonrefundable deposit by July ; $1975 by September , and balance of $2650 by October *
  • ·        Includes: rental road and mountain bikes, all lodging (double occupancy), all food, full SAG (supplies & gear) support, local expert cycling guides
  • ·        Incidentals/Extra Costs:  tips, souvenirs, special/extra excursions (to be determined)
  • ·        All applications DUE July , with deposit
  • ·        Prices based upon 12 persons minimum


 Does adventure drive you? Travel through the entire country of Israel (north to south) by road and mountain bike (one day), enjoying swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and/or running, while seeing the work of the YMCA in action bridging cultural gaps and bringing diverse communities together.  Join expert cyclists and adventurers on the trip of a lifetime.  Averaging 25-60 miles of cycling daily, with one 100 mile day, the adventure will challenge you.  Daily SAG support or rides will be available as needed.

Send this application with your $500 deposit (payable to CDYMCA Bike Israel) to Melissa Bellew, Capital District YMCA, 465 New Karner Road, 2nd Floor, Albany, NY, 12205, by July .  Send any questions to Melissa at or fax to 518-869-9082.  You will receive a confirmation from Melissa once your application has been received and processed.


1. Name (as printed on passport):
2. Nickname (if applicable):
3. Address:
4. City, State Zip Code:
5. Home phone:
6. Work phone:
7. Cell Phone:
8. Gender:
9. Date of Birth:
10. Do you currently have a valid passport? If yes, date of expiration:

YOUR YMCA (if applicable; if not a member, leave blank)
11. Branch Affiliation:
12. Are you a Member, Staff, or Board Member:
13. For YMCA staff, supervisor’s name:

14. Emergency Contact Person’s Name:
15. Relationship:
16. Home Phone:
17. Work Phone:
18. Cell Phone:

19. Do you have any illness or conditions that may affect your full participation in this program? If so, please explain what accommodations might be needed, if any.
20. Do you have any allergies or dietary restrictions? If yes, please explain.
21. Any other medical or health conditions for which you want the travel team to be aware?
22. Do you have medical insurance valid internationally? If not, are you willing to secure such coverage?

APPLICATION NARRATIVE QUESTIONS (please limit each response to 250 words or less)

23. What are your personal expectations of this experience and why did you select the Capital District YMCA Cycling Adventure in partnership with the Jerusalem International YMCA?

24. What do you think is the most important thing about representing your community and country abroad?

25. Have you ever spent any time away in another country or in a vastly different state-side experience? If so, where did you go and for how long?

26. What do you see as your strongest quality and why?

27. Give an example of a personal weakness. How might that affect you on your this type of program?

28. What unique characteristics will you bring to the travel team?

29. Upon your return, do you have any thoughts on how this experience will be applicable to your world view or affect you?


Contact Information: Melissa Bellew 518.640.1923 or 518-221-6614 (cell/text)

*Cancellation fees: to be discussed individually on as needed basis


Is this cycling trip right for me?

YMCA Bike Israel  can be enjoyed by any experienced cyclist or someone who is physically fit, rides a bicycle, and gravitates toward very active outdoor adventures. The trip’s goal is not a cycling challenge per se, but an innovative way to experience Israel. We provide quality road and mountain bikes. You bring a helmet. You may bring your own bike. All cycling days are on the road but for one day of mountain biking. The travel will be bus when not cycling and we anticipate only one night of outside camping. YMCA Bike Israel 2014 is open to applicants residing in North America and Canada.

While a YMCA, cause-driven adventure, this trip is interfaith and nondenominational. All religious beliefs will be respected.

Who leads this trip?

YMCA Bike Israel 2014 is led by two native Israelis with cycling expertise. Haim Ben-Eliezer is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces with 25 years of service. He has cycled this North/South route in Israel himself and his passion is Israeli tourism. He draws tremendous pleasure in showing his native country’s beauty to others. He now resides in Delmar, NY, with his wife, Dalia, and their children and grandchildren ( Harel Nahmani runs professional cycling adventures in Israel, as well as organizing other extreme sports challenges around the world. He owns and directs Gran Fondo Israel ( A tremendous endurance athlete himself, Harel has cycled Israel numerous times. He is married with three children and is a past expert in solar energy. Additionally, Capital District YMCA staff who are expert cyclists will be on the trip.

How does the YMCA and cycling in Israel work together?

YMCAs exist in over 120 countries bringing diverse people together for healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. The history of beauty of the Jerusalem International YMCA and YMCA Peniel are breathtaking ( YMCA Bike Israel 2014 permits the experience of Israel alongside Israeli cyclists and peers. There is no better way to experience Israeli life firsthand and make connections that span years past this adventure. The local Israelis who lead, guide, and ride alongside you add local flavor and true authenticity to the experience. Local cyclists will join our rides. You will receive a hands-on opportunity to get a taste of Israel’s natural beauty, diverse culture, and rich history. If you are looking for something impactful and truly off the beaten path, this adventure awaits.

Is it safe to ride a bicycle in Israel?

Yes. We will avoid Gaza and the Syrian border. As indicated above, one of our trip leaders is retired Israel Defense Forces.

Upon receipt of your $500 nonrefundable deposit, more details will be available as final trip logistics are specified.

Mount Hermon to Eilat – Israel Bike Ride – 2015

  • ​a Tel Aviv beach
  • ​an aerial view of Tiberias
  • a duze pouring coffee out of a traditional coffee pot
  • a girl snapling at Ramon Crater,
  • a pilgrims boat sailing on the Sea of Galilee
  • a typical Galilean vegeterian brunch
  • a typical lane in Safed
  • arad
  • Basilica of Annuciation
  • Bedouin hospitality at tents
  • Bedouin Hospitality​
  • Beit Jimal, monastery
  • biking at Nahal Prazim, Sodom Area​
  • biking in Timna Park
  • Biking the Negev
  • Bread
  • Bycicle, Galilee
  • Camel and rider
  • camel riding in Eilat region​
  • camels riding
  • Capernaum  Modern church
  • Carmel Market, Tel Aviv​
  • Dead Sea
  • Diving with doplhins​
  • Dolphin Reef, Eilat​
  • Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem ​
  • druze, Galilee
  • Eilat Hotels
  • Eilat Under Water
  • Ein Avdat National Park,
  • Hurva synagouge
  • Jerusalem Dome of the Rock
  • Jerusalem-sunset-300x175
  • Jordan River, rafting,
  • Judean Desert  Dragot
  • Kaasar el Yahud
  • Machne Yehuda Spice shop
  • Marathon Season January 2014
  • Masada
  • Masada-300x202
  • Northern Red sea beaches
  • Old Jaffa port
  • People running on the Tel Aviv Port
  • Petra
  • sde-boker
  • Tel Aviv port, biking
  • Tel Aviv
  • the aqueduct in Caesarea​
  • The church of the Holy Sepulchre
  • The Dormition Abbey at sunset
  • The flea market, Jaffa
  • the Gospel Trail, Mount Tabor
  • The Greek Orthodox Church in Capernaum​
  • the Marina in Eilat
  • the mozaic of the zodiac at Zipori
  • The Sea of Galillee near Tabgha
  • The sign of the Via Dolorosa
  • The underwater museum,
  • Touring along Ramon Crater
  • Tower of David Museum
  • Tower of David, outside view​
  • Yafo, the Flea Market​
  • ברכת-רם-300x93
  • קליה
  • רוכבים-בגולן
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Day 1Arrival and Jerusalem night tour



Meet at the Ben Gurion Airport, stop in Abu-Gosh for authentic Israeli Dinner and transfer to Jerusalem. Check in to the YMCA hotel and meet your guide for a briefing about the tour and then take a short walk in the city. 






Day 2 Jerusalem

Our second day in Jerusalem will be devoted to the city inside and outside the walls. We will leave the hotel to the Lion Gate, the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. We enter into this magical city to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher ,lion gate the Western Wall and the vibrant market. Walking through the Cardo , a street that was the main thoroughfare of Byzantine Jerusalem and served both residents and pilgrims under the Jewish Quarter Continue to King David Tomb and the Church of the Dormition the location is identified in Christian tradition as the place where the Virgin Mary died — or “fell asleep”, as the name suggests. At the evening visiting the Knest, The Israeli Parliament, and out for Dinner at Machane Yeuda market.a3bb5ebc-7c57-461f-a8df-0e44899c35b6

Day 3 – Golan Heights

After breakfast, bus transfer to the North,

passing the Sea of Galilee. We arrive to

Majdal Shams, a Druze town in the12314014_10205269002431273_2710802762609743099_n

Northern part of the Golan Heights, by Mt. Hermon.

Getting our bikes and after some adjustments, short test riding.

celebrate an authentic Druze dinner (Hafla) with a local family and learn about there cultur


Day 4 – Golan Heights to the Sea of Galilee

After breakfast, we start riding south along the Golan Heights. We pass near a wine yard and stop for

explanation on Mount Bental. Enjoy the panoramic view of the Syrian border and the Galilee of Israel. We

continue down to the Jordan Valley, crossing the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake on earth, where

on its shores many of Jesus’s miracles occurred, including walking on the water.

Over night at Paniel YMCA a nice INN just on the shore of the Kinneret.

A view from Mount Ben-Tal to Syria

IMG_0281 IMG_0276






Day 5: Tiberia to Kalya: The Dead Sea

Today’s ride will take us from Tiberia to Beth-Shean and transfer to Kalia by the Dead Sea will cross Bik’at HaYarden (Jordan Valley) along the Jordanian border and will arrive to a Kibbutz Hotel at kibbutz Kalya,  

leave the bikes at the hotel and go for a visit to the Mineral Beach, right on the Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest lake/sea on earth, with the water temperature of 39°c all year round.

 A must is to float on the surface of the Dead Sea and Back to the hotel for dinner.








Day 6: Kalya – Masada – Mitzpe Ramon


After breakfast will ride along the Dead Sea shore, to Masada, an ancient fortification built by King Herod on top of an isolated rock plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada was also the last hold out of the Jews (Zeelots) during the Roman Empire’s effort to out root the Jewish population. Will watch a short movie about the story of Masada and take the cable car to the top of the mountain to explore the site.

Transfer to Mitzpe-Ramon to I-Bike hotel for Dinner and over night.

Day 7- Hiking and off road biking 


We will devote our day to the trails surrounding Sde Boker and Mitzpe-Ramon region. Will be led by local cyclists that

took part in building these trails that leads into the most beautiful parts of the Negev Desert ride through the trails of the area to enjoy desert shade and some hided water sources.


Will stop for a light lunch in the field and return to Mitzpe-Ramon for some hiking in the Great Crater (if time permitted) and overnight in Mitzpe Ramon.

sde boker






Day 8: Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

After breakfest, transfered to visit Kibbutz Neot Snadar, located in the Southern Negev Desert of Israel, about 60 km. north of Eilat a copious desert valley spreads out giving way to a fertile oasis with abundant trees, green fields and spectacular exotic buildings. Continue on road 12, near the border with Egypt, and get a view over the Egyptian desert from Hezkia Mountain. We continue down to Eilat while looking over the Edom Mountains in Jordan. Our last leg of the ride we descend towards Eilat by the shores of the Red Sea and continue to Parma Music hotel, relax and head out to a dinner in a local restaurant.












Day 9:  Free day in Eilat

After breakfest, will visit the Underwater Observatory Marine Park. Eilat is blessed with the most magnificent and unique coral reef of its kind in the world and lying in the very heart of this reef is the Underwater Observatory , a rare opportunity for a close-up look at the rich and enchanting life of the Gulf of Eilat. 

Getting into our swimming suite and out for snorkeling in the clear water of the the Red Sea.

After a lite lunch, back to the hotel for shower, check out and to our car on the way to the airport for our night flight back home. 




hello to our  guide

hello ISRAEL




10 Days Bike Tour

Enjoy 10 glorious days of riding and site seeing. The Israel ride includes routes for beginners, Intermediates and advanced cyclists.

All routes are fully covered and guided with all the support needed. (first aid, mechanic, water, etc.)

tel aviv2Day 1 – Sundaygraphics-cycling-239489

Landing in Israel, transfer to the hostel; get our bikes adjusted by the mechanic, and out for an easy ride in Tel Aviv, Israel’s cosmopolitan-Mediterranean, city beach front, and old Jaffa. Followed by an enjoyable dinner at Jaffa Harbor.

Day 2 – Mondaymuhraka

We will leave Tel Aviv early morning and drive to the Horn of Carmel. It is in this biblical site that Elijah fought the prophets of Ba’al (Kings 1). After enjoying a spectacular view of the Galilee from the rooftop of the Muhraka Church, we will continue biking down the slope of the Carmel.

After riding through the Amikam region- known as the Tuscany of Israel, we will stop for lunch. From here, we will ride to Caesarea, built in the first century BC by King Herod. We will bike along the Aqueducts all the way to the Ancient port.

We will take a short walking trip of the city that was once the Capitol of Judea, and is today a true gem on the coast. we will head to Acre on the shores of the Mediterranean sea by car, and have dinner at the old harbor of Acre.

Day 3 – Tuesdayakko

Acre was once a leading port in the Middle East and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, dating back to 1504-1450 BCE. Since the 1990s Acre, in Hebrew Akko, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will begin to ride through the small roads of the upper Galilee, with breath taking views of the villages and vineyards around us. We will stop for a tasting in one of the local wineries and continue to T’zfat. Here, we will tour by foot the home of Jewish Mysticism and the unique Judiaca market.

Day 4 – Wednesdaydruze3

Cycling in the upper Galilee, upper Jordan valley, and a stop in the Golan heights. Rafting on the Jordan river and an overnight stay with a Druze family, hosting in the Golan. We’ll have a chance to meet these very special people who live on the high part of the Golan Mountain, learn about their interesting history and culture, and indulge in their dishes.

Day 5 – Thursdaygolan4

Golan Heights, wine testing and thrilling downhill descent from the northern Golan to the Jordan valley, rafting on the river and cycling to the Sea of Galilee. Travel to Jerusalem by car, and take a night tour of the old city.


Day 6 – Friday

Jerusalem – Experience the unique weekend atmosphere of the Holy City, explore its narrow winding streets and allies, listen to the fascinating stories that form Jerusalem’s impressive historic fabric and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding Judean Mountains.jeuda3

The Fridays in Jerusalem exposes visitors to unique experiences such as the 4pm Via Dolorosa traditional walk, We will then continue to the Western Wall for a short visit, and then make our way to the Christian Quarter. There we will join priests from different paths of Christianity on the Via Dolorosa walk toward Jesus’ final resting place, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.( changes might be up to the group interest). Dinner  Friday night meal at the hostel.

Day 7 – Saturdayimages2

Free day in Jerusalem, Our hostel will be within walking distance of the old city and other places of interest. Lunch at the hostel.

Day 8 – Sunday

Judean Desert & The Dead Sea.

A desert region in the eastern part of Israel situated between the Judean Mountains and the Dead Sea Valley, the desert stretches all the way south to the Negev Mountains.dead sea 2

The Dead Sea Valley is the lowest land on earth, 400 meters below sea level.

We will ride the desert and visit the Masada, situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty.

Day 9 – Monday   1200px-Ramon_Crater_WidePanorama

Dead sea to Mitzpe Ramon, cycling in the Beduwin territories, visiting semi nomadic villages of upper Negev Mountains, then riding downhill into the Crater, a unique Israeli geological phenomenon, with amazing scenery.

Overnight at a Beduwin family hosting tent with desert stories and delicious food.

Day 10 – Tuesday

In the morning cycling in the crater land and afternoon back to the Airport…

SHALOM and have a good trip home .airplane25


Jerusalem to Eilat –

Jerusalem to Eilat 10 day program
coming departures: Tour overview: This 8 day program will take you from the Judea hills, through the Negev Desert, from the Dead Sea to the shores of the Red Sea. We will see Jerusalem,Masada, The Dead Sea, The Ramon Creator, and the Ben Gurion Memorial. Cycling is all on road, and most sights visited are off the beaten path and give a true feeling of life in the desert, and how it is to cross it.

Day 1: Bike Jerusalem

jerusalem3Our tour will start with a bike ride through some of the various neighborhoods Jerusalem has to offer. We will pass the Prime ministers home, Valley of the cross, Israeli Parliament and Supreme Court and then head through the market to Jaffa gate for lunch. From here we will leave our bike and continue by foot into the alleys of the Old City visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Western Wall. After passing through the market you will be free to choose whether to return to your hotel or tour on your own in the Old City. We will meet again for dinner and to go over the program for the following days
Meals: Dinner | Approximate Cycling Distance: 20 km | Overnight:Jerusalem

Day 2: Judea Hillsקןךשא6

The hills surrounding Jerusalem hold some of the best cycling routes in Israel, and we will probably see dozens of other cyclists as we head on our way. We will start riding from Bar Giora and head downhill towards Beit Shemesh (optional ride out of the city- additional 20 KM). We will ride through the Adolam Park, where we will get a glimpse of the famous caves where Bar Kochva and his supporters hid from the Romans in the year 135 AD. From here we will ride to the Ella Valley, the Biblical site of David and Goliath’s battle, and continue for a lunch and a taste of wine from Israel’s leading wine region. After lunch we will ride to explore the ruins of Beit Guvrin, a system of enchant caves dating back to different empires that passed through here. From here we will ride along the quiet by roads of the Region, passing the biblical Tel Lachish, and vineyards left and right. The ride will end with a short transfer bus past  the desert town of Arad, to the Dead Sea.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Approximate Cycling Distance: 75 km | Overnight: Dead Sea Hotel

dead sea 2Day 3: Masada-Dead Sea and the Peace Route

After an early morning visit to the Dead Sea we will bike north to Masada. Once we arrive at the site, we will hike up the ‘Snake Path, that will take us up the side of the mountain into the fortress village.  Here at the top, we will see the remains of one the last villages to fight the Roman Empire, and one of Israel’s most important landmarks. After the visit we will ride down by cable car and meet our bikes for a short ride along the shore of the Dead Sea where we will break for lunch and to enjoy a quick float in the Dead Sea. After lunch there will be a short transfer by bus to the Northern Arava Region. To end the day we will ride along one of the prettiest roads in Israel known as the ‘Peace Trail’ along the Israeli Jordanian border. On the way we will ride in between small fields and green houses, producing food for export in the desert. We will stop at one of the small villages on the way for lunch and a swim in their pool (depending on season) and then ride back via the red rock “Wadi” to Hatzeva for the night.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Approximate Cycling Distance: 40 km | Overnight: Arava B&B

 Day 4: The Scorpions Ascent- to the Negev ma'ale 2

Today will be quite a challenge, with two large climbs out of the valley to the plains of the central Negev region. The Scorpions accent is a well known climb and spectacular way to enter the Negev. The peaceful road, following an ancient Roman route through the Hatira Creator will bring us to the desert town of Yerucham, where we will stop for lunch. The ride is beautiful, and the scenery is well worth the effort. From Yerucham we will ride to Kibbutz Mashabe Sade where the ride will end for the day

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Approximate Cycling Distance: 80Km| Overnight: Mitzpe Ramon

Day 5: To Mitzpe Ramon
We will ride out of the hotel and head towards Sde Boker, where we will visit the burial site of David Ben Gurion at the outskirts of this pioneer desert research center, where we will take a moment to hear about his vision of the Desert and why he is consider to be the father of the nation.  Following our visit to Sde Boker we will continue to the Ruins of Avdat- a trade post on the famous Nabatien spice route, where caravans of camels took precious merchandise from the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean ports. We will pay a visit to the place and from there continue to Mitzpe Ramon- on the Cliff of the Ramon Creator and end the day with a breathtaking view of the unique Natural beauty.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Approximate Cycling Distance: 50 | Overnight: Mitzpe Ramon

Day 6: Across the Central Negev

The Day will begin with a bike out of Mitzpe Ramon and across the Ramon Crater. After passing through we will ride through the dry riverbeds of the Southern Negev, past the village of Shitim to Kibbutz Neot Smadar. We will stop for a short lunch break and then tour this unique desert community and the local art center. From here we will continue down the road to Kibbutz Ketura where we will be spending the night.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, | Approximate Cycling Distance: 100 Km (More down than Up) | Overnight: Ketura Kibbutz Hotel

Day 7: To Eilat eilat4

We will bike out of Ketura, and climb back to the desert plain. From here we start biking south towards Eilat. We will ride along the border with Egypt, looking into the Sinai Desert. This small road will take us from the Southern Negev to the Eilat Mountains. The road will climb up to the pass near Mt.Shlomo and from there we will descend towards Eilat on the shores of the Red Sea.  At the beach we will enjoy a cold drink, lunch  and celebrate our arrival with a  a swim in the cool water.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, | Approximate Cycling Distance: 87 Km | Overnight: Eilat

Day 8:  Eilat, option one (Farewells)
Your adventure concludes this morning following breakfast. There are several daily flights back to Tel Aviv operated by Israir and Arkia. We suggest an afternoon departure, allowing time for optional activities such as snorkelling in the Red Sea among some of the most beautiful reefs in the world. You can also choose to relax by the pool or indulge in a lavish spa treatment before continuing onto the next leg of your adventure. B

Day 8: Eilat, option two (Jordan – Petra Extension)petra
Depart early this morning for a two hour transfer into Jordan, and the spectacular Nabataean city that has become one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. During Hellenistic and Roman times Petra was a busy hub where the cultures and goods of Arabia, China, India, and Africa mingled. It is still bustling today, as you will see on your guided explorations of the main sights, including the Treasury, Monastery and Qasr al-Blint. You will quickly escape the crowds and have time to investigate the many canyons, meandering tracks and secluded valleys. As darkness draws near, and the bulk of the day visitors disappear, you will experience one of the most impressive sunsets in the world. After dark, for an even more magical experience, there are optional candle light tours. BD

Day 9: Petra & Eilat

Spend the morning exploring more of Petra on foot. Energetic walkers may opt for an early morning climb up Umm Al-Biyara to be rewarded by impressive views of Petra and the shimmering Jordanian landscape. Return to Eilat by 15:00, where you will be delivered to your hotel of choice, or Back to the airport in Tel Aviv.

Day 10: Back homeanimated boy walking with Israel flag animation


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