Cyclists pedal for pie

 

Refreshment stop at the school on Rose Valley School Road west of Dover featured homemade pies donated by Byler’s Store. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER – The lure of pedal power, pies and near-perfect weather sparked the invasion of around 1,500 cyclists to Legislative Mall for the 31st annual Amish Country Bike Tour on Saturday.

The event, hosted by Kent County Tourism Corporation, was not necessarily created for the competition inclined – it is not a race.

Rather, it is a chance for people to enjoy a relaxing bike ride through the country with the choice of five different mileage options: 15- or 25-mile rides for casual cyclists, while more advanced participants choose to tackle the 50-, 62- and 100-mile routes.

Danielle Jonigan, marketing and communications manager for Kent County Tourism, said the Amish Country Bike Tour got a boost this year as the cyclists were greeted with temperatures in the mid-60s on Saturday morning, though there was a little breeze.

“We are going strong,” Ms. Jonigan said. “The weather helps out so much. The beautiful weather encourages people to come out – families, cyclists and individuals – because they can choose what (distance) they want to do on the day of the event.

“With the beautiful weather, a lot of people were going for the big (distances).”

The event got started at 8 a.m. with a mass start as hundreds of cyclists lined up behind an Amish buggy “pace car” at Legislative Mall, where the rides both started and finished.

In between, cyclists choosing the longer-distance loops passed through Felton, Harrington and Marydel, with four rest stops and a water station set up along the routes.

Ben Miller officially starts Saturday’s annual Amish Country Bike tour (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Susan Lake, of Wilmington, made her fourth trip down to Dover with friends to take part in the 25-mile loop.

“I like that it’s a nice scenic route with fresh air,” Ms. Lake said. “I live in the city and it’s congested in the city and this is just so open and it’s not crowded at all. It’s a safe ride and it’s very flat.”

Her favorite part of the journey, of course, was the traditional pie stop at the Amish Schoolhouse, where cyclists are presented with a tasty treat.

“Everybody here is so nice,” Ms. Lake added. “It’s a community. I think cyclists are some of the nicest, caring people I’ve met. And, to be honest, I pedal for pie (laughs). I want to take some of this air back home with me.”

As the cyclists made their way back to Legislative Mall from their journey they enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction, as well as a barbecue lunch catered by Where Pigs Fly.

“I did this (event) 20 years ago with a bunch of friends,” said Rob Riley, of Millsboro, who completed the 62-mile ride. “I like the loop out here and the territory – the scenery is great. I wish it was a little less windy.

“I also enjoy the festivities and activities they have around (Legislative Mall).”

Biker waves as he heads out at the start of the annual Amish Country tour. (Special To The Delaware State) News/Gary Emeigh

Bike Delaware, a nonprofit cycling advocacy group, teamed up with Kent County Tourism for this year’s cycling event.

“It’s been going great,” said John Bare, treasurer for Bike Delaware. “You couldn’t ask for better weather than this and that always puts everybody in a good mood.

“We will be working with the Kent County Board of Tourism for the foreseeable future. We believe that we can help them and they can help us.”

Bike Delaware’s mission is to develop and identify activities participants can do in Kent County after the ride, hoping to keep cyclists who come from out of state in the area for the weekend, not just Saturday.

This year the organization tried to boost participation by reaching out to other bike clubs and organizations from around the Mid-Atlantic region.

Ms. Jonigan said Kent County Tourism appreciates the help that Bike Delaware has provided for the Amish Country Bike Tour.

“Bike Delaware has a partnership with us this year and they are cycling advocates that promote safety and also help with nutrition value for the cyclists that are here,” said Ms. Jonigan.

She said the crisp weather helped attract dozens of walk-up cyclists on Saturday. There was little doubt to that, as parking spaces around Legislative Mall were filled with vehicles with bike racks attached to them.

“Everybody’s been having a good time,” Ms. Jonigan said. “They’ve said the ride was very enjoyable, they’re enjoying the food, registration went very well and everything’s been very positive.

“This is a pretty large event. It’s been going on for 31 years, so it’s definitely been around Kent County for a very long time. We hope it is a tradition that will continue for years to come.”

 

 

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

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