Here’s my bike. I bought it today.

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It was always my plan to get a bike early on in my sabbatical, but the reality of obtaining it did not match the fantasy I began to hatch in my mind a year ago. I thought perhaps there were used bike sellers with whom you could sit down in the sun, drink coffee, and discuss the price. I couldn’t find any of those. What I did find, by using http://www.yad2.co.il/ (have a go) was a bloke selling ex rental bikes from the Rav Shefa shopping centre in North West Jerusalem.

So after a journey on the Arab bus, and then the Jerusalem Light Rail, and a bit of a walk, I located the place. There is a small shopping centre there, but the bike shop I’d envisaged was nowhere to be seen. After asking a guard “Ofanayim?” (The beautiful word invented by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the reviver of Hebrew, for a bicycle – made from the biblical word for wheel [see e.g Ezekiel 1:15] with the addition of the dual suffix) I was directed to the car park basement of the shopping centre.

There, in the dingy gloom, I discovered a gent with a large pile of bikes in various states of disrepair. This bit of Shamgar St is quite an Orthodox neighbourhood, and my request that we might converse in English was met with considerable disdain. So we had to make use of my exceptionally ropey Hebrew, and a calculator to communicate prices as we haggled.

After about half an hour of fairly heated debate in this manner, I emerged out of the car park into the daylight with this white bicycle, which seems to be reasonably functional.

There were three things I hadn’t really fully thought through at this point. The first was the heat (it’s about 31C today), the second was the distance I had to cycle it to where I’m staying (given that I have done virtually no exercise for about twenty years), and the third was the hills.

Jerusalem is extremely hilly.

Psalm 121 makes more sense to me now than it ever has. And at various points on the journey home I wondered the same thing the psalmist does in the first verse.

But eventually I made it … in this state:

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And here is my reward…

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…along with the answer in Ψ121:2, of course.