Sovev Tel Aviv. Photo by Yael Tzur
Sovev Tel Aviv. Photo by Yael Tzur

The Sovev Turki Elite Tel Aviv cycling event is so big that the Ayalon Freeway – one of the country’s main thoroughfares — shuts down to all vehicles until it’s over. This year’s event takes place on September 25, and organizers say more than 30,000 riders are expected.

Israel is already known as a biker’s paradise. A small country with diverse topography, Israel has a whole tourism industry catering to bike enthusiasts, and two Israeli cyclists-turned-inventors recently announced the world’s first handlebar-mounted swiveling mister.

Sovev Tel Aviv is the country’s biggest cycling event, but hardly the only one. The beginning of autumn marks the kick-off for bike-a-thons – races and benefits – across Israel.

Grab a helmet and water bottles, put Queen’s “Bicycle Race” on your music list, and get on your bicycle for one of these:

  • Caracal Mountain Biking Marathon, October 4

    Choose between three track options – 90-km, 60-km and 30-km — in the Hula Valley. This race is run under the auspices of the Israel Cycling Federation, the governing body of competitive cycling in Israel. There are tens of races across the country throughout the year including international races.

  • Epic Israel – Ultimate Holy Land Mountain Bike Challenge, October 17-19

    This year marks the first Epic Israel three-phase challenging mountain bike tour. It’s a two-person team stage race that kicks off in the Lower Galilee, goes up into the Carmel Mountains and then rounds out at the Megiddo Forest. Organizers say the event aims to “raise awareness of mountain biking in Israel, and to encourage an appreciation of nature’s beauty, and humanity as a whole.”

  • Alyn – Wheels of Love, October 27-31

    One of the country’s most popular international charity bike rides, the 14th Wheels of Love supports the ALYN Hospital pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility in Jerusalem. Participants from all over the globe each commit to raise a minimum of $2,500, but usually double that. Choose from off-road or on-road routes during the five-day tour.

  • Arava Institute-Hazon Israel Ride, October 29-November 5

    The seven-day Israel Ride takes participants from Jerusalem to Eilat, through the Negev Desert. It’s an adventure that benefits Hazon, America’s largest Jewish environmental group; and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the premier environmental education and research program in the Middle East.

  • Around the Kinneret, November 2

    A cycling tradition in Israel, this event steers cyclists around the Sea of Galilee. The scenic 63-kilometer ride takes you past landmarks, holy sites and stunning landscapes. Nearly everyone ends with an ear-to-ear smile.

Prefer riding in the spring? About a dozen biking events run from March to July. One of the favorites is the 68-km Round Western Galilee bike tour through the beautiful scenery of the Western Galilee.