Wheels in motion for Amish Country Bike Tour

Official Amish Bike tour starter Ben Miller leads the 100-mile participants along Legislative Avenue last year. This was Mr. Miller’s 20th consecutive start of the Amish Country Bike Tour. (Delaware State News file photos)

DOVER — Well more than 1,000 cyclists will descend on Kent County Saturday for the annual Amish Country Bike Tour, an event that shows off the varied scenery of Delaware’s middle county.

Now in its 31st year, the ride takes cyclists from downtown Dover through rural Kent, passing by farms and Amish homes.

“The Amish Country Bike Tour continues to remain popular partially due to the great cycling conditions here in Kent County,” said Kent County Tourism Corporation Marketing and Communications Manager Danielle Jonigan.

“Where else can you enjoy such beautiful views with relative ease of a flat, winding road?”

The tour offers five different mileage options: Casual cyclists will likely want to choose the 15- or 25-mile rides, while more advanced participants may opt for the 50-, 62- or even 100-mile routes.

The 25-mile is the most popular option, according to organizers, but no matter what route participants choose, the ride starts and ends at Legislative Mall in Dover. Cyclists will pass through Felton, Harrington and Marydel, with four rest stops and a water station set up along the routes.

Cyclists get ready for the start of the annual Amish Country Bike Tour last year in Dover.

Many riders look forward to one of those stops in particular: the Amish Schoolhouse, where participants will receive a slice of pie.

After the tour concludes, they can attend a picnic catered by the popular barbecue joint Where Pigs Fly.

The event draws riders from as far away as Florida, New England and the Midwest, according to Ms. Jonigan.

“It has become an annual tradition for many cyclists,” she said. “Many of our participants have ridden in the tour as kids and are now bringing their own kids along for the experience and to create their own cycling tradition. And of course, everyone loves the famous Amish Pie Stop. Who doesn’t love pie?”

Kent County Tourism puts on the event, and this year the group is working with the nonprofit group Bike Delaware to promote the tour.

“Mostly what we are working on is logistics, such as making the route successful and recruiting volunteers and

Brian and Peggy Leahy, of Hartly, use their cellphone to take their own picture before start of the Amish Country Bike Tour last year.

getting the word out to riders to let them know how great this ride is,” said Katie Kazimir, director of communications and events for Bike Delaware.

Last year’s event drew 1,500 cyclists, and organizers are expecting to hit that number again.

The weather should help. The National Weather Service says Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high around 70 degrees. The ride will be held regardless of weather, however, and no refunds will be given.

The tour is just that — a tour, not a competition, although participants may want to set personal bests time-wise.

The Amish Country Bike Tour is already a big event for Kent County, but organizers are hoping to grow it even more and benefit local businesses in the process. Bike Delaware will be working to develop or identify activities participants can do in Kent after the ride, with the goal of keeping cyclists who come from out of state in Kent County for the weekend, not just Saturday.

For now, Bike Delaware is trying to drive up attendance by reaching out to other bike clubs and organizations nearby. Ms. Kazimir said she expects some cyclists will be coming from Philadelphia and Baltimore Saturday.

“It really highlights how beautiful Kent County is,” she said. “You’re getting to a lot of the … quaint villages. It’s a nice time of year for a bike ride.”

Online registration is now closed, but people can still register at the event from 7 to 10 a.m.. The cost is $60 for adults and $30 for individuals between ages 5 and 16. Cyclists 4 or younger ride for free.

Routes open Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with a mass start at 8. Route support ends at 5 p.m..

Legislative Mall will be blocked off Saturday for participants and their families, and there will be temporary road blocks as police escort riders at the start, although the blocks should be removed after about 15 minutes.

Routes will be marked.

For more information, visit AmishCountryBikeTour.com.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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