One of the largest and longest-running cycling events in the state will be held rain or shine, starting and finishing at Legislative Mall in Dover
Check your brakes, pump up your tires and adjust your safety helmets because it’s almost time to hit the road for the Amish Country Bike Tour.
Held rain or shine, Saturday, Sept. 9, the start and finish lines are at Legislative Mall in Dover. It’s one of the largest and longest-running cycling events in the state.
This will be the 31st running of the tour, but this year there will be some differences.
“Kent County Tourism formed a partnership with Bike Delaware,” said Danielle Jonigan, marketing and communications manager for Kent County Tourism.
“This partnership will combine the event management and marketing expertise of Kent County Tourism with the vast and varied cycling experiences with Bike Delaware.
“The goal of the partnership is to evolve the Amish Country Bike Tour in the coming years as a regional, weekend event with multiple ride options throughout Kent County.”
Preregistration began shortly after last year’s ride, and it’s now too late to receive the early-bird discount. Riders still may register on the day of the tour.
So far, preregistrations have outpaced those from last year, Jonigan said.
“As long as the weather holds up, we will be hosting over 1,500 cyclists in Kent County,” she said.
So far, the outlook is promising, with forecasters predicting mostly-sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.
Since the bike tour isn’t a competition, there’s no mandatory start time; riders can set out any time between 7 and 10 a.m., although there’s a mass start at 8 a.m. where cyclists will follow an Amish buggy -- another longstanding tradition -- for the first block. Riders who’ve already signed up need to check in with organizers at the Bib Pickup tent, where they’ll receive tour maps, giveaways and an invitation to the after-ride catered picnic. Those who signed up early should have received their numbered bibs in the mail; anyone who registers Saturday gets their bib at that time.
The ride also entitles cyclists free food at one of four “pie stops” along the way -- the number of stops depends on the route each choose to take.
The bike tour takes cyclists over 15-, 20-, 25-, 50-, 62- and 100-mile routes throughout Kent County. The courses are flat and well-marked, making it almost impossible to take a wrong turn. Riders also may check at the bike tour’s website, linked to Kent County Tourism’s site, and download GPS directions.
Emergency assistance will be available during the tour as well as help to repair flats or make mechanical adjustments to the bikes.
It’s a rare chance to ride through Delaware’s countryside and actually enjoy the scenery.
“The Amish Country Bike Tour continues to remain popular partially due to the great cycling conditions here in Kent County,” Jonigan said. “Where else can you enjoy such beautiful views with relative ease of a flat, winding road?”
Over the past three decades, the bike tour has become an annual tradition for many cyclists, with some coming to Delaware from as far away as the United Kingdom.
“Many of our participants have ridden in the tour as kids and now are bringing their own kids along for the experience and to create their own cycling tradition,” she said.
And, of course, there’s the pie stop, where apple and peach delectables await energy-starved cyclists.
“And who doesn’t love pie?” Jonigan said.