An experience rather than a race: Amish Country Bike Tour spotlights Kent County scenery

DOVER — The starting and finishing points of the 33rd annual Amish Country Bike Tour’s five different routes will be returning to Legislative Mall this Saturday after the event was briefly moved away from its traditional home last year.

The Bike Tour started and ended at the Delaware Agricultural Museum a year ago, but officials decided to bring it back to downtown Dover so that participants could get a taste of the rich history and amazing scenery that lines the cycling routes out to the Amish countryside in west Dover.

The important thing to remember is that the Amish Country Bike Tour is not a race, rather, it is an experience.

Marci Drees, the board president for Bike Delaware, is looking forward to a big day with near perfect weather expected when Kent County’s premier cycling event kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service was calling for sunny skies and a high of 80 degrees for the event.

“We are really excited because it rained last year and it looks like it’s going to be an absolutely perfect day on Saturday,” Ms. Drees said. “We have more people pre-registered (on Tuesday) than we’ve ever had. We are definitely looking forward to a bigger and better event this year.”

Ms. Drees said that more than 1,300 cyclists had registered by Tuesday’s pre-registration deadline and — with outstanding weather anticipated — Bike Delaware is expecting maybe 300 to 400 cyclists will register the morning of the event on Saturday.

Bike rentals are also available for the Bike Tour. Those interested are asked to reserve one ahead of time at Unlimited Biking (www.unlimitedbiking.com/events/amish-country-bike-tour-rentals/).

Bike Delaware has been involved in a creative partnership with the Kent County Tourism Corporation since 2017 in co-promoting and hosting the Amish Country Bike Tour. Bike Delaware will take over the event completely next year.

Katie Kazimir, director of events, communications and membership for Bike Delaware, said there are several new things coming to this weekend’s Amish Country Bike Tour that should excite the participants.

“Bike Delaware is taking over ownership of the Amish County Bike Tour,” Ms. Kazimir said. “Next year we will be completely running it by ourselves. This is the third year we have worked alongside of Delaware’s Quaint Villages (Kent County Tourism Corp.) to learn how they’ve done it and figure out ways we can add to the reach of the event.

“The ultimate goal is to keep people in Kent County for the weekend so that they can enjoy the cycling, as well as other activities. We’re even planning a special packet pick-up event for the participants at Dover’s First Friday event this Friday night.”

The Amish Country Bike Tour will feature all new routes this year and cyclists can choose between 16-, 25-, 50-, 62- and 100-mile journeys from Legislative Mall, through the countryside, and back.

Friday’s packet pick-up event will take place between 5 and 8 p.m. at the House of Coffi at 14 E. Loockerman Street. While pre-registered cyclists can pick up their packets during these times, those who are not pre-registered can also register there that evening, as well as at Legislative Mall on Saturday from 6:30 until 10 a.m.

Bike Line of Dover/Middletown will be on site Friday night to do safety checks and any last-minute adjustments.

For those who wish to register Friday night or the morning of Saturday’s event, the cost will be $75 per adult and $20 for youth ages 5 to 16. Children under 5-years-old are free.

Ms. Kazimir said youth and children must be registered. Adult (21 and older) registrations include one alcoholic drink ticket with additional tickets available for purchase. A local barbecue lunch water and sodas are provided for all registered riders free of charge.

Riders may start the Amish Country Bike Tour anytime between 7 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, but the traditional mass start with a lead-out by an Amish buggy driven by Ben Miller, will take place at 8 a.m.

Bike Delaware officials recommend that cyclists planning the 100-mile route start no later than 8 a.m. because the event support will end at 5 p.m. It is a rain-or-shine event.

Ms. Kazimir said that no matter what route a cyclist might chose to take, it will feature unique opportunities and rest stops — such as the traditional stop at the 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.”

“I think the Amish Country Bike Tour is a longstanding Kent County tradition that highlights some of most beautiful scenery that one can find while traveling on roads within the local area,” said Ms. Kazimir. “There’s a certain level of passion and enthusiasm that is associated with the event.

“It is also one of my most favorite days of the year just getting out and celebrating the simple beauty of Kent County.”

New additions to the bike tour

Ms. Kazimir and Ms. Drees are both looking forward to new additions to this year’s Amish Country Bike Tour, which will include a second day of “club rides” on Sunday, as well as new partnerships with Mispillion River Brewing and Harvest Ridge Winery.

Sunday’s rides will be opportunities to join Bike Delaware and local cyclists to visit additional sites within Kent County that are not on Saturday’s routes. There is no additional cost to participate in the events.

The new club rides — which will not take place in the event of rain — will consist of two different routes for participants, including:

Route A: A 30-mile ride from Dover Downs along Del. 9 east of Dover to the Air Mobility Command Museum near Dover Air Force Base and back. There will be a rest stop at the museum. The start time is tentatively planned for 9 a.m.

Route B: A 45-mile trip From Georgia Boys’ Bagel Café at 136 Greentree Plaza in Dover that will go west back to Harvest Ridge Winery (and enjoy the tasting certificate provided with registration, if desired). This route will cover some familiar roads from Saturday’s ride, but hit some new ones as well. The start time is tentatively planned for 11 a.m. as Harvest Ridge does not open until noon.

One can be sure, once the cycling excitement of this weekend ends, officials will be back to it working on the 2020 version of the event.

“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 (Delaware Department of Transportation), 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.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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