Wheels in motion for revamped Amish Country Bike Tour

Ben Miller officially starts last year’s annual Amish Country Bike Tour on Legislative Mall. This year’s event will begin and end at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — With a new location for the start and finish, the 32nd annual Amish Bike Country Tour is expected to draw a record number of cyclists on Saturday.

“We are thrilled,” said Katie Kazimir, director of communications and events for Bike Delaware.

“We have more than 1,200 riders preregistered, and depending on the weather, we are expecting around 400 people to show up and register the day of.

“We are seeing our preregistration numbers trending ahead of last year, as a direct result of the announcement of the new venue and routes.”

For the first time, it will not begin and end at Legislative Mall in downtown Dover. The new locale is the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village on U.S. 13.

“The new location is picturesque with views of Silver Lake and historic buildings from Kent County on the grounds, and ties in with the rural theme of the tour,” Ms. Kazimir said.

“In addition, there will be ample parking at the Delaware State University parking lot directly next to the agricultural museum.

“Those familiar with the area know that this lot is used for the NASCAR races. Riders not familiar with the area should look for parking signs.”

In addition to the new location, there will be new routes for cyclists to experience on the tour. Riders will continue to enjoy riding through the Amish countryside with newly laid out routes for the 15-, 25-, 50-, 64- and 100-mile options.

Staten Island, N.Y. residents John Warner, left, and Rolf Freerks get ready for the start of last year’s bike tour. A field of about 1,600 cyclists are expected on Saturday.

“They offer some better views of the Amish countryside and are also safer roads for cyclists to travel on,” Ms. Kazimir said.

“No longer will the tour dip into Maryland on some of the longer routes. It is entirely in Kent County this year.

“It also stretches up to Smyrna for the 63- and 100-mile riders. There will be a rest stop at the Painted Stave in Smyrna for the cyclists opting for these longer routes, which is also a new rest stop this year.”

Rest stops include the famous Amish Schoolhouse in Dover, where members of the Amish community and local volunteers serve locally baked pie and cookies. Other stops will feature healthy snacks, sandwiches and beverages.

Following the tour, there will be a catered picnic at the museum with music and massages.

“Riders will be happy to see beer and wine options available for the first time, yet another addition to this year’s tour,” Ms. Kazimir said.

“Most cyclists are excited for the fresh views and a more entertaining location to relax and have some lunch after the ride.”

Preregistration has ended, but day-of-registration ($60 adult, $20 child) will be accepted from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday.

Those who signed up early can pick up their bibs at Grotto Pizza on U.S. between 5 and 7 p.m. today.

Cyclists can bring their bikes to Grotto’s for safety checks and mechanical support as well, Ms. Kazimir said.

As in years past, an Amish buggy will lead cyclists for a short distance Saturday as they begin their ride, with staggered starts beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Ms. Kazimir said organizers start the planning process as soon as the event is over.

John Doerfler, of Kent County Tourism, pitched in to help bikers get a group photo before the start of the last year’s Amish Country Bike Tour.

“It takes a year to plan the Amish Country Bike Tour,” Ms. Kazimir said. “As soon as we wrap up this year we will start logistics and planning for next year.

“We coordinate with DelDOT, the Dover Police Department, as well as local businesses and organizations to make sure that this ride is one of the best in Delaware every year.”

The new Amish Country Bike Tour experience is the result of a creative partnership that was formed in 2017 between Kent County Tourism Corporation and Bike Delaware.

Ms. Kazimir hopes the tour continues to get better each year.

“We partnered with Kent County Tourism last year for the first time to help coordinate the Amish Country Bike Tour,” Ms. Kazimir said.

“We hope to establish the tour as a signature Mid-Atlantic cycling event.”

For more information, visit www.AmishCountryBikeTour.com.

Arshon Howard is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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