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  • Writer's pictureBrian Jablon

A Ride in the Carmel Mountains...and a Tow Back Home

A perfect ride on the perfect day in the perfect weather turns out to be a bit longer than expected.......

Honda CBR250R on the tow truck back to the shop

After reading a ton of articles, books, and seeing moto-vloggers on videos gushing about the pleasures of motorcycle camping, l wanted to give it a try in the north of Israel on my CBR about 3 hours north of here but unfortunately the weather was forecasting rain so I decided to go for a closer ride in the Carmel Mountains near Haifa. I left at noon from Ra'anana and took the beach road eventually cutting over to hit the road that goes to the Carmel Mountains and Daliyat al Carmel - a Druze village. The road was great - short but with those amazing hairpin turns, twisties, and views that I expected. Perfect motorcycle road. I rode to the village and then doubled back to do it in reverse.....and then just as I was going down the mountain....

The beginning of route 721 through the Carmel mountains in Israel.
On the way to the Carmel mountains....

Route 721 through the Carmel forest, Israel.
Carmel national park - route 721

Oh crap, why is the ABS light flashing....that never happened before. And that engine light, never seen that come on and flash at me. How could this be happening, I just had the bike at the shop for the $$$$$$ 38K kilometer service. WTF? I pull over at the Carmel Fire Memorial parking lot. I turn off the ignition and then.....nothing. Press the starter, nothing. OK - time for some basic motorcycle troubleshooting. Kill switch OFF - check. Kick stand UP - check. Gas in the tank - of course, I filled up 30 minutes ago. Erratic electronic behavior of the dash - check. Some lights come on, others don't. LCD display is blank. SHIT. Now where is that damn towing insurance phone number? Find it, call them, "yes, you're covered," and some nice Israeli bus drivers waiting for their school kids to complete their hike come over and translates for the company where I'm located which is literally in the middle of the Carmel mountains. Three least.... for the tow truck. OK - I'm waiting. They tell me they will tow it to any garage I wish, including the shop I usually use close to home - 1.5 hours away. WOW - this is not AAA for sure! The bus drivers in the parking lot give me water and help me bump start it....again, nothing. Advanced motorcycle electronics troubleshooting time. I take the seat off, view the battery - looks good but I don't have a multimeter to check it, remove each of the ten fuses and check each one. I'm learning something here. After all, I can't make this problem any worse, can I? All good. CRAP. Obviously the battery is dead.

You meet the best people when you're not planning it.
"In Search of Greener Grass," Graham Field (2012).

Some nice kids in a car offer to give me a jump start - hey, why not? My bike starts. YEAH! I very gently release the clutch, give it throttle. DEAD. AGAIN. Short lived shot of happiness. OK - guess that tow truck wasn't such a bad idea.....Some random guy with one of the school groups comes over to help "troubleshoot." Asks me where the choke is? The choke? This is a Honda sports bike built in 2013, not my old 1991 Kawasaki 305LTD. There is no friekin' choke. And even if it HAD a choke how the hell is that going to resolve what is obviously an electrical issue. He pushes the passenger footpegs in. Oh yes, that will resolve the problem for sure. Maybe it will start NOW. I tell Mr. Tech, thanks but I'll take it from here...which means waiting for the tow truck and continuing my mental troubleshooting. I will THINK this bike to function.

A bunch of teenage boys from a school near Beersheva who just completed their hike in the mountains come over to look at the bike. Since I don't have anything else to do (damn, why did I leave my Kindle at home!) we chat in broken English (them) and broken Hebrew (me) but we're all having FUN, LAUGHING, and I'm learning about their lives down south. They ask me a million questions - what is the size of the bike, how fast does it go, how much did it cost, is it new (no, 5 years old but I obviously like that question!), do I live here, can you do a wheelie (need to add that trick to my bucket list), and so on. And I ask them a million questions - how many brothers/sisters in your family, what are you doing this summer, how long is the school trip, is it fun? More boys show up and they all want to sit on the bike and take pics. Hey, why not? I don't have any plans and neither does my CBR. They take turns, the teachers kindly ask me if I'm OK with them sitting on the bike, "sure - why not." I hold it while each kid gets on/off, flicks the switches which at this point can't do any harm, and takes pics. At the end, one of the teachers tells me I made their day - NICE! Guess their hike wasn't exactly the highlight of this school trip.

They leave, and the parking lot is empty. I couldn't have selected a better place for my bike to die. It's beautiful, really. Amazing 360 degrees of scenery. And a clean bathroom plus a water fountain. All I need. My wife asks me if there are any food trucks around....not today.....good I had that bagel and cream cheese with vegetables at 10AM. But besides no food and all the water and scenery I can take, it's the perfect place to kill four hours.

Carmel Fire Memorial parking lot, off of route 721, Israel.
Check out the prison in the background.....

Hiking in the Carmel forest, off of route 721, Israel.
Gorgeous hiking.....if I only had the time!

Tow truck finally arrives and we push the bike onto the truck. He tells me - half jokingly - that he can't believe he came all the way here for such a "small bike" (only a 250cc!) and says I shouldn't ride such a bike here in the "mountains" which - BTW - would barely pass as hills outside of Israel. I tell him I'm a small guy and need a matching bike and that I took it to Eilat which is even FARTHER a few weeks ago, he shakes his head in disbelief. He ratchets it down tight and off we go down the mountain through the hairpin turns and twisties.

About 30 minutes into the trip he takes the green LEFT turn signal as a sign that he can drive STRAIGHT through the red light. Cars are coming directly at us including a police car that pulls over, yells at him, asks him what the hell he is doing, and tells him to back up out of traffic, and miraculously lets him off without a ticket. Man, lucky that our lives didn't end there - that would make for quite a story ("American dies as a passenger while his motorcycle was being towed from the Carmel mountains!") - and equally lucky that he didn't get ticketed. The irony of that - especially from those that have told me how dangerous my "new old" hobby is - would be too much for me (and my family) to bear, even in the afterlife.

We make it to the garage in Hod Hasharon by 8PM and the owner takes my bike and tells me they will repair it tomorrow. Guess it's good that camping trip fell through......

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