The Holyland Mountain Bike Challenge (HLC) is a bikepacking race that will have it’s inaugural start this week, April 17th at 7:00am. This is the first race of it’s kind and magnitude in Israel. The race is a rider-organized event, meaning there are no organizers in the traditional sense. The route will take racers from the North, a town called Majdal al-Shams on Mt. Hermon, to Eilat which is the Southern most point in Israel. The riders will pedal 1,300 km (808 miles) through the various types of terrain in Israel. The route is designed to give riders an opportunity to truly experience Israel. Whether biking through the mountains of the holy land, or along the Mediterranean coast, participants are sure to be in awe at the physical beauty and historical context of their surroundings. The route also takes you through the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, areas consisting of woodland and desert, finally ending at the Red Sea. The majority of the trail is off-road. There are some sections of singletrack, however, the route mainly consists of dirt roads. The trail is not technical, though some sections do acquire attention. The Holyland Challenge has a few unique rules in addition to the standard Tour Divide style of self-support rules. Racers must camp outdoors 50% of the nights they are on course. Indoor accommodations for the other 50% are allowed, however must not be pre-arranged. Racers are also prohibited from seeing family or friends along the route, even if they are not providing support. They also specify that calling ahead during the race for any service is prohibited. In case of technical failure of your bike, you are not allowed to call a bike shop for questions or issues regarding your need for repair, you must just walk in. The Holyland Mountain Bike Challenge is sure to test the abilities of riders as well as provide an unforgettable experience. A total of 27 riders have registered for the first ever HLC. The majority of riders at the start will be from Israel, the rest are mainly from Europe, with one rider coming from the US. Judging by the diversity of the terrain and the historical value of the location, this is a ride you want to add to your bucket list. Track the riders along their journey on trackleaders.com. Check out these photos to get an idea of the the landscapes in Israel.