Malliot Blanc Column by Toby Miles - Israel racing adventure - Part One

PUBLISHED: 16:59 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:28 27 March 2018

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

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Read Toby Miles' Malliot Blanc Column as the 18-year-old aspiring professional cyclist has just returned from the biggest race in Israel and to share Part One of his Middle East experience.

Toby in action racing in Israel. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.comToby in action racing in Israel. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.com

What an experience I had at the Tour of Arad in Israel. An amazing country and a weekend I’ll never forget.

I touched down in Tel Aviv having only texted one of the men I’d be racing with on my first trip out of Europe: plunging head-first into the unknown.

I travelled through the city at night - in the Alfa Romeu of my teammate, team manager and the man that created the opportunity, Boris Tsukerman.

Team Sila, Arad Tour 2018. Credit: Team Sila.Team Sila, Arad Tour 2018. Credit: Team Sila.

Before a night on Boris’ friend’s sofa, I reassembled my bike out of it’s travel box, and went for my first ride the next morning. In perfect weather, Ronen Chernyak - who raced alongside me in Arad - showed me round the busy city by bike.

After surviving the madness of Tel Aviv’s drivers, we arrived at Yarkon Park, which features a winding, one-mile bike path.

It’s the only (barely) usable training road in the city, unless you want to ride just short of an hour through the chaotic junctions and city streets to the limited countryside roads.

Ronen and Toby take in a cafe stop during their ride. Credit Ronen ChernyakRonen and Toby take in a cafe stop during their ride. Credit Ronen Chernyak

I can’t believe they do the majority of their training there, and it hit home how lucky we are in North Herts to have such a huge wealth of roads. Even in the countryside there are very few roads in Israel.

After riding easy alongside the sunny Tel Aviv beach, we went to historic Jaffa, the old-town, for a relaxed cafe-stop, and to get shouted at by an Israeli lady for ‘stealing’ her seat.

Then it was time for the two-hour drive down south to the city of Arad, through the varied countryside. Though I didn’t see too much of it though, as my sleep-deprived body was desperate to rest.

Riding through the Yarkon Park with Ronen on day one in Tel Aviv.Riding through the Yarkon Park with Ronen on day one in Tel Aviv.

It was much warmer in Arad than Tel Aviv. Humid in the early hours as we readied for the stages.

Despite the new environment, I felt no more anticipation than I would for a UK race. Maybe more groggy, as we woke at 4AM UK time, but my mind was clear and relaxed.

Stage 1A’s circuit was similar to UK circuits and I started close to the front to avoid early crashes and scope out the unfamiliar opposition from a safer place.

Riding along the Tel Aviv seafront. Credit: Ronen ChernyakRiding along the Tel Aviv seafront. Credit: Ronen Chernyak

Israeli cyclists are at a similar level to those at home but most are technically slightly worse, so I gained an advantage through my cornering speed and group riding skills.

However, the heat cancelled that out, as even in the cooler morning, I had to drink constantly in the dry conditions and I tired faster than normal despite feeling strong.

I was on the limit trying to move to the front in the final laps, mouth wide, looking for every opportunity to duck and dive. I didn’t get to the front in time but felt capable of a top-10 and was satisfied.

Toby in action in Stage 1A of the Arad Tour, riding relaxed mid-way through the race. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.comToby in action in Stage 1A of the Arad Tour, riding relaxed mid-way through the race. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.com

After the stage I recovered quickly and we calmly rolled to a nice cafe before a shower, some sleep and preparations for the epic mountain we’d face at 4PM, an entirely new experience for me.

Read CometSport next week for Part Two of Toby’s Israel adventure. In the meantime, follow him on twitter for @toby_cometsport for more.

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