Amish Country Bike Tour ready to roll Saturday

Participants in last year’s Amish Country Bike Tour ride through the streets of Dover. They will be off again Saturday morning as the 29th edition of the Kent County tradition gets underway with a mass start at Legislative Mall at 8 a.m. Cyclists from more than 25 states and Canada are expected to join in the fun. (Delaware State News file photo by Dave Chambers)

Participants in last year’s Amish Country Bike Tour ride through the streets of Dover. They will be off again Saturday morning as the 29th edition of the Kent County tradition gets underway with a mass start at Legislative Mall at 8 a.m. Cyclists from more than 25 states and Canada are expected to join in the fun. (Delaware State News file photo by Dave Chambers)

DOVER –– After 28 years of successful rides, the Amish Country Bike Tour is back for its 29th year.

Set for Saturday morning, planning has been in the works almost since last year’s event ended.

“We start off our planning with feedback from the volunteers working the water and food stops to see what could be changed or improved,” said Cindy Small, executive director of Kent County Tourism. “And there are only about three of us who do more the organizing so it takes time.”

Taking cyclists around the county’s Amish countryside, the Tour has multiple route options for cyclists of every skill level. Options are 15, 25, 50, 62 and 100 miles, all beginning and ending at Legislative Mall in Dover.

It isn’t only locals who get involved in the Tour, there are cyclists from more than 25 states and Canada who have signed up with pre-registration numbers nearing 3,000. Ms. Small expects about 300 more to register the morning of the ride.

With such high registration numbers, Home 2 Suites, the designated hotel for bikers is completely sold out and Ms. Small hopes all of the out-of-staters choose to do a little tax-free shopping during their stay and eat at some local restaurants to give a little bump to the local economy.

But the Tour is more than an event for individual bikers, it’s something families and coworkers can do together too.

“Last year, we had a couple parents using pull-behinds for very young kids and I think our youngest riders for the 15-mile loop were about 5 years old,” Ms. Small said.

“I think families like it because it’s manageable even for kids because it’s untimed and there are stops along the way and you can take a break if or when you need one. There’s no pressure.”

Also with the 8 a.m. start time, those who take the shorter loops still have the afternoon for other planned activities like afternoon soccer games.
Businesses such as Chesapeake Utilities have a team come out and this year their team has more than 65 registrants.

“Some companies do it as a team-building exercise or wear shirts with their company logo to do a little advertising while having fun,” Ms. Small said.

All 3,000 cyclists end their ride at Legislative Mall in Dover where pulled pork sandwiches from Where Pigs Fly will be ready for lunch while music by

DJ Alex Vaughn plays and Ms. Small said new this year is a water slide to cool off.

The perks don’t just come after the ride though. Before the event, participants will have access to a wide array of freebies.

“Companies love to use athletic events like this so people can sample their products and in many instances the products are donated free of charge and others, we can purchase at discounted rates,” Ms. Small said.

One of the most popular giveaways has been anti-chafing cream, an important product for many bikers, especially those going the distance.

Also available for all cyclists, but maybe more so for those doing the longer loops, is roadside assistance provided by Bike Werx in Dover and even medical help from Delaware Technical Community College nursing students.

Cost of the event is $60 per adult; $30 5-16; and free for children under five. It includes the barbecue meal, map, up to four food/rest stops including the famous “pie stop” at the Amish Schoolhouse where slices of locally baked pie will be served.

A portion of every registration fee benefits the Dover YMCA, participating churches, the Amish Schoolhouse Fund and as many as seven additional local organizations.

Cyclists may also register on the day of the event from 7 to 10 a.m. but the mass start begins at 8.

For more information or to register, call Kent County Tourism at 800-233-5368 or visit http://www.amishcountrybiketour.com.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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