By Denise Gordon, card- carrying member of the HBT Cyclopaths.
In the beginning, initially, we met at weekly Shabbat Family Services with our children in tow. As we prayed, shared kiddush lunch, and schmoozed together, so began the infamous conversations about travel and bicycles. Little did we realize that these weekly interactions would be the genesis of a very special Chavurah – soon to be known as the Holy Blossom Cyclopaths; and that over time, this Chavurah would put multiple kilometers on our bicycles while deepening and strengthening friendships over the course of 4 consecutive summers.
First off, it is vital to note, that ours is a disparate group. Some are non-cyclists, others are neophytes, while there are those die-hards who will brave lousy weather conditions for the sake of a ride. However, the most important common denominator that binds us is that we respect one another profoundly and take sincere delight in each other’s company. With that in mind, our rag-tag group started planning our first summer cycling trip to accommodate all of its members.
Over several dinners and countless city cycling excursions that always included coffee and animated conversation, plans for a summer cycle started percolating. Tasks were divvied up to turn the idea of a summer cycling trip into a reality. Everyone was responsible for something – we had committees to coordinate hotel accommodation, cycling routes, meals, the necessary non- riding road support; we even had members responsible for the creation of our logo and cycling jerseys! In fact, it was only this year that we decided that our 9-person cycling Chavurah needed a name, and, with that, the Holy Blossom Cyclopaths was born.
The trips, which have taken us several hundred kilometers across parts of Canada and the United States, were thus brought to fruition. Over the past 4 summers, we have cycled Prince Edward County, Gananoque, Kingston, Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, Le Petit Tran de Nord, and most recently, the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Vermont. Throughout, we have often been able to observe Shabbat ‘on the road’, to our mutual satisfaction and joy!
In celebration of our most recent July 2015 trip, and as we start to plan next year’s summer cycling expedition, we acknowledge that the sacred space and sacred meeting place called Holy Blossom Temple has been the glue that has brought us together. In planning these trips and by travelling together, our relationships have grown deeper and stronger. All of us count, and each one of us is accounted for.
Ultimately perhaps, we have collectively learned what it means to be Jewish within and beyond a shul context. To that we collectively count our blessings, say Todah Rabah, and perhaps we can exclaim “next year (cycling) in Jerusalem!”