This week we had the honor of welcoming Noga Korem, who is “racing as a privateer,” and Dan Craven, of the professional Israeli Road cycling team, to the chava (ranch)! The duo came to our machane (camp) to visit, teach, and enjoy the beauty of the chava (ranch) through Melinda Goldrich, longtime Ramahnik, supporter of Ramah in the Rockies. She recalls the way she got involved with this team, saying, “the Colorado pro challenge came through Aspen two years ago, that was the first year of the team, and I was asked to gather some members of the Jewish community to be supportive of the team and cheer them on.” Since then, she has built a relationship with the team and has familiarized them with the Colorado Jewish community.
International biking superstar Noga Korem was so excited to get to spend some time in our little corner of the Rocky Mountains. “It’s a really really nice place.” She said. “I love it. I feel sorry I wasn’t here when I was their age.” This morning, Bogrim Advancing Biking had the opportunity to take a double perek (period) lesson from the bike team members, where they learned how to steer, brake, pedal, and stand up on mountain bikes more effectively. “It was a lot of fun.” Noga says, “It looked like the kids really enjoyed it. They loved riding and they loved learning new things.” This wasn’t her first time teaching kids biking. Back in Israel, Noga teaches girls cycling and works with them to hone their skills.
Dan has also really enjoyed his experience at camp. “I only started racing my bike when I got to university because it took me that long to find it,” he told me. “And here are these kids who are being exposed to all of these things; it’s really amazing.” In regards to the culture of the camp, Dan has a real appreciation. “They’re up in the mountains; you don’t see a single kid walking around with a cell phone. We need more of that.”
Raz Paul, Rosh Ofanayim (biking) here at camp, was thrilled that they came to visit, saying, “it’s awesome to see Noga jump and do tricks on the bikes. Every time she goes to a competition or anything, the Israeli Facebook goes crazy. She’s one of the best in the world in downhill biking.” Indeed, being Israeli himself, Raz has a special appreciation for Dan, Noga, and their accomplishments, and he aims to spread his enthusiasm throughout the camp community. Raz is also especially glad that they will get to spend time teaching all of the different edot (age groups), saying, “they are joining all our perakim…one perek of each edah. They taught us some bike skills, how to properly stand on the bikes, how to turn, how to jump safely. The kids love them.”
Indeed, our chalutzim (campers) found the experience of learning from, talking to, and riding with professional cyclists to be invaluable. Yonah, 14, found their instruction to be tremendously helpful, and is hoping to utilize the skills they taught him on future mountain biking masa’ot (backcountry excursions). He explained, “I learned in general how to go down single tracks and bike better.” A highlight for Yonah was getting the opportunity to follow Noga down a single track and witnessing a world class athlete in action. “It was really cool, she’s so good,” Yonah said, with awe and admiration written on his face. For a kid from New York City who looks forward to mountain biking here at camp every summer, it was truly a once in the lifetime opportunity.