Take a ride on long winding roads to reach Lebanon’s highest peak
“Riding offers freedom, it’s a real get away, for me it’s like breathing, ” says Eddy Nehme, a private banker. Eddy has been
riding for around 34 years, his first bike was a Cross Yamaha 250. Now he rides a Honda Goldwing. He is president of the
WingRiders Club and organizes group rides most Sundays as well as trainings to promote safe riding in Lebanon.
And, his dedication shines through as he checks the buckle on my helmet to make sure it’s fastened well as we get ready
for our ride. Zaki, who owns a Harley Davidson, and Nada, a beautiful blonde who rides a Honda speed-bike, are joining
us today along with 15 other bikers. “There are so many beautiful routes in Lebanon … but I have forgotten the names of
the regions,” says Nada, her words greeted by an outburst of laughter from her fellow bikers.
Under a clear blue sky, we head off along the highway towards the North, taking a right after passing the Chekka seaside.
Longitude and latitude doesn’t seem to matter much for bikers here, it’s all about reaching the roads up to the mountains,
through stunning green valleys. Soon, the Kornet el Sawda, Lebanon’s highest peak, rises ahead of us in the distance. It
makes an incredible backdrop to the winding road, lined with vast olive groves. Our destination is the Cedar forest located
at 1,900m. The brave of heart were invited by Eddy to continue along a gravel road to the peak of Kornet el Sawda but no
one took up his half-hearted offer. It was about time to give the bikes a well-deserved break, and we discovered a simple
mountain eatery where we feasted on delicious bayd bi awarma, fried eggs cooked with minced meat, as well as manouche,
pies with an array of toppings baked on an outdoor oven by the owner Leila.
An hour later, we headed back a different route, via the village of Qanat, along a narrow virtually car free road through
a pine forest, perfect for riding. Along the way we took a short break, but Eddy warned us not to step off the road into
the wilderness. “Look out for the red flags indicating the possibility of landmines remaining from the Civil War.” Charming!
It was time to get on the saddle again and we continued down this gem of a road towards the highway back to Beirut,
passing Chekka seaside while the sun set over the Mediterranean.
Experiencing Lebanon’s countryside from the saddle of a motorcycle is an incredible feeling. The natural and historic
sites along the way combine to feed you with a wealth of experiences. A personal favorite of mine is to ride late afternoon
up to Falougha in the Shouf region, to the spot where the Lebanese flag flutters proudly, stopping along the way to take in
a glowing sunset. Or riding the wide roads through beautiful green valleys from Nabatieh to Marjayoun in the South.
“Taking my bike on a long road trip, up to the mountains, reloads my mental batteries,” said Eddy. And, as there is
no rest for the eager, on the ride back home Eddy was already planning next weekend’s energizer.
ANB Moto Club
WHAT TO WEAR
For the classic motorcycle rider who wants to be safe and cool, there are some specially designed pieces of riding gear to consider.
1. Vented helmets are a must to circulate air inside the helmet and ultimately dissipate the heat to the outside.
2. Cool suits are designed to be used as an undergarment for leather suits. The washable liner helps air to circulate and allows moisture to be drawn (a system called wicking) away from the body to help regulate body temperature.
3. Vented leather jackets allow a limited amount of air to pass through them.
4. Body armor cool pants are ideal for riders wanting to retain the blue jean look, with comfort and protection.
5. Cool gloves offer the protection of leather at all of the vulnerable points, but are also vented to allow air to flow.