A tradition as sweet as pie
Pie and cycling may not seem like the most likely combination, but in Kent County, the tradition has lasted for more than 30 years.
The Amish Country Bike Tour comes to Dover each fall, offering a variety of routes for cyclists of all levels. Each includes a stop at the Amish schoolhouse west of Dover where people can enjoy a slice of pie from Byler’s Store.
This year, the ride is Saturday, Sept. 12. It will begin at 8 a.m. on Legislative Mall with its famous Amish horse and buggy start. Routes of 15, 25, 50, 62 and 100 miles are planned with rest stops throughout. Bike Delaware volunteers will provide rider support until 5 p.m.
Bike Delaware is a nonprofit advocacy organization, which works with the state legislature to pass laws related to bike safety. This ride is a major fundraiser that accounts for about half of its overall spending, said former president Marci Drees.
“It’s a great way to have something that’s fun for the community to participate in, but also benefits the cause,” Drees said.
The schoolhouse and Felton Fire Hall receive donations as rest stops. The ride benefits businesses along the routes like Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel and Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna. Drees said there is a sense of community that seems to draw people back each year.
Most cyclists come from the Mid-Atlantic, but people from 16 states and Washington D.C., registered in 2019.
At a time when many nonprofits have seen their fundraisers canceled, Drees is hopeful that the completely outdoor tour will happen this fall.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on the situation,” she said. USA Cycling lifted their ban on cycling events and released guidelines May 31. Bike Delaware plans to follow those guidelines and adjust plans if need be. “What may be true today may not be the same for what we need to do in September,” Drees said.
Some precautions the nonprofit is considering include staggering start times to help separate cyclists, limiting person-to-person contact while serving food and making masks available at each rest stop.
When cyclists finish the ride, they return to Legislative Mall to celebrate with a catered lunch, music, local beer and wine. People can buy things not included with registration from vendors and sponsors. While the list of vendors has not been confirmed, many focus on sporting goods and health, Drees said.
Drees encouraged people that it’s not too late to start training, and the flat terrain makes it a good first ride for beginners. “The roads west of Dover are just incredible for cycling,” she said. “We’ve made a strong effort to put people on roads that we like to ride ourselves and that are the safest option.”
To register, sponsor or volunteer, visit https://www.bikede.org/amish-country-bike-tour.