The inspiration continued as we joined the Israel Cycling Academy for a training ride in the hills outside of Jerusalem. As we sampled Israeli coffee and delicious poppy seed babka at the Bar Bahar café, our fellow riders proudly shared the history of the ICA.
This atypical cycling academy is Israel’s first professional team. It is the only cycling team whose budget is based on philanthropy, and although the majority of the participants are Israeli, cyclists of all religions and nationalities are welcome. The team was started by Israeli businessman Ron Baron and ex-professional cyclist Ran Margaliot. When Margaliot’s cycling career came to a premature end, he joined forces with Baron and other philanthropists to pursue his dream of inspiring future generations of riders. The academy works in local communities to get kids on bikes and enables young cyclists to compete in the international arena.
As they recounted the story, it was clear that the ICA has become a source of hope and faith for Israeli cyclists, and proof of cycling’s potential to bring people together. After the ride, we returned to our hotel with tired legs but lightened hearts.