Merokean bikes across Israel with wounded IDF vets


Blaine Land of Merrick, was part of a group of more than 30 who wrapped an intense six-day bicycle ride through Israel last month. Cyclists were American Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces supporters, and they joined a group of wounded Israeli combat veterans who have benefited from FIDF programs and prosthetics for the cross-country ride, which began in southern Israel on Oct. 20. Israeli pro-cyclist Roy Goldstein was also along for the ride.

Land said last week that he had been cycling for 40 years, and he took the venture as a chance to show his lifelong support for the IDF.

“I’ve been to Israel many times, and for me, it was the perfect trip, because I love Israel, I love cycling and I love to support the IDF,” Land said.

Cyclists from across the U.S. covered more than 350 miles and a total vertical climb of more than 22,000 feet. The ride was a way for the avid cyclists to show solidarity with and support for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, while experiencing Israel from the seats of their bikes.

“This cycling tour was an incredible opportunity to bring FIDF supporters together with Israeli soldiers,” said FIDF Midwest Executive Director Tamir Oppenheim. “Biking across Israel together with wounded veterans helped participants to really understand the impact FIDF has on the lives of the brave men and women who benefit from FIDF programs.”

Beginning at the Red Sea in Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat, the cyclists headed north, riding through the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert, before continuing to Ashkelon, and finally finishing in Jerusalem. Along the way, the group visited national landmarks, ancient historic sites, and Israeli military bases. The participants met active-duty soldiers serving on these bases, Lone Soldiers who serve in the IDF with no immediate family in Israel, and combat veterans who benefit from the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program.