Volunteers paint the way for Amish Bike Tour riders

DOVER — Dover resident Bobby Babuca has two things on his mind while when it comes to the annual Amish Country Bike Tour.

One is finishing the tour and the other is making sure the road markers for the routes are visible and clear for cyclists.

Pam Babuca of Dover spray paints the Dover Amish Bike Tour directional markers along the sides of Legislative Avenue at 7:30 Saturday morning. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Pam Babuca of Dover spray paints the Dover Amish Bike Tour directional markers along the sides of Legislative Avenue at 7:30 Saturday morning. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

For the sixth time Mr. Babuca, will be in charge of marking the paths that riders follow during Saturday’s 29th annual Amish Country Bike Tour.

There are five different loops a rider can take — 15, 25, 50, 62 and 100 miles — but each one starts and ends on Legislative Avenue.

“The tour is fun,” Mr. Babuca said. “But I’m constantly thinking about the markings and other cyclists.”

Lorraine J. Dion, director of public relations and special events for Kent County Tourism, said striping the roads is one of the most important aspects of the tour.

“We have a lot of cyclists that come from out of state,” Ms. Dion said. “They’re not familiar with the roads, so it’s important that the routes are marked, so they know where they’re going at all times.”

Each cyclist is provided with a map and cue sheet, but road markings are a major part of the equation of keeping cyclists on track, especially since the event is expecting about 2,800 cyclists this year.

“We just want to make sure the cyclists are safe,” Mr. Babuca said.

“Their safety is the number one priority, so we want to make sure the markings are clear, so there won’t be any confusion during the tour.”

He marks the road using a stencil that has an “A” inside an eight-sided star with an arrow on top and marks both sides of an intersection so riders know in advance where they’re going.

He even paints the tour symbol on long stretches of road where no intersection is coming for miles.

“We don’t want it be a guessing game for cyclists,” Mr. Babuca said. “We don’t want anyone to get lost. It’s pretty hard trying to bike and wondering about if you’re going in the right direction.

“We want to make sure that when you’re approaching the 15-mile mark it’s designated by the arrows.”

The volunteer crew of 10 has been marking the routes since the beginning of August.

“Since we all work, we go out at different times,” Mr. Babuca said. “My wife and I go out there the first thing in the morning to avoid all of the traffic. The others may go out in the evening after they get off.”

Mr. Babuca assigned the crews to different areas and has trust that they will have their sections complete this week.

“I trust them,” Mr. Babuca said. “We all work at our own pace. I’ve been doing this for six years, so I know these people and just have that trust in them.”

“Most of the groups are done. My wife and I plan to wrap it up soon. We’re doing the inner part of The Green Thursday evening. We’ll knock it out.”

Ms. Dion said she’s appreciates the help of Mr. Babuca every year.

“He’s awesome,” she said. “He’s been doing this for a long time now. Our staff consists of about four and half people. There’s a lot into putting this event together. It would be impossible to have this event without their help.

“They make a big difference.”

Mr. Bubuca said weather always makes him nervous during the day of the tour.

“When it rains that always puts a curve ball into the situation. Riders complain once in a while, but that’s expected. We just want to keep them safe.”

Mr. Bubuca isn’t sure which loop he will participate in, but he always feels great knowing that he and his crew are responsible for the markings each year.

“I’m glad I’m involved,” Mr. Babuca. It’s a great way to give back to the community. I think it’s pretty cool.”

Bobby and Pam Babuca of Dover examine the Dover Amish Bike Tour directional markers they just spray painted along the sides of Legislative Avenue at 7:30 Saturday morning. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Bobby and Pam Babuca of Dover examine the Dover Amish Bike Tour directional markers they just spray painted along the sides of Legislative Avenue at 7:30 Saturday morning. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

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