Seeing part of Maryland probably is a part of many families' vacation plans this summer. But seeing the state by bike?
That might seem a little strenuous for those who envision mostly settling down for a quiet week in a beach cottage or mountain cabin. But Kathy Hillman has a few soothing words for the anxious: the third annual First National Bank CAM-Tour -- for Cycle Across Maryland -- isn't necessarily a time for merely adding some aching muscles to an already stressful life.
"It's a great way to combine fitness with meeting new people and seeing new places," said Ms. Hillman, spokeswoman for CAM. "It gets a lot of families together again."
This year's theme is "Wrapping the Chesapeake Bay," and will take place from July 28 to Aug. 3.
The route will begin in Solomons in southern Maryland, and will continue through Annapolis, Essex, North East, Worton and Centreville before ending in Easton.
The route, which is different every year, tries to combine safety with scenic appeal.
As to this year's route, Ms. Hillman said, "It's tied in to the environmental issue. We're trying to make Mary- landers aware of how to save the bay and what's in it."
She continued, "It's surprising how much history and wildlife is around the bay. Maryland is like an America in miniature. There's a lot of diversity in scenery. And on a bike, you see things you don't normally see."
Participants average between 55 to 65 miles a day. But the pace can be casual with the day available to stop for lunch and explore tourist spots or small towns along the way.
Total mileage is about 350, with the third day designated as Special 100 Day. On this day, riders can choose to go either 100 miles or 100 kilometers (62.5 miles).
Rest stations are available throughout the day, and trucks transport luggage along the trip. Support trucks, known as sag vehicles, accompany the riders in case of emergencies. Bicycle repair and first-aid assistance are available.
There are three types of lodging available for riders. All participants meet at a host site each night, which is usually a school or local college.
Outdoor camping facilities are available at each host site, and riders must provide their own tents, sleeping bags and towels.
For those who prefer to sleep inside, limited space in sheltered areas (such as school gymnasiums) is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Riders must provide sleeping bags and towels. Showers are provided.
Ms. Hillman said that others may opt to make arrangements on their own, choosing to stay in hotels or bed and breakfasts along the way.
Although meals are not included in the fee, host sites provide three meals a day, and riders are offered the option to register for the meal package at an extra cost.
Optional bus transportation is available from the opening and closing sites for an additional fee. Space is limited, and reservations must be made in advance. Cars can be parked at that spot during the week.
The ages of riders ranged from 10 to 74 last year, and Ms. Hillman said many families register for the tour. She said that a lot of riders are male, in their 30s or 40s, and are "a very educated, diverse group."
The fee for the CAM-Tour is $110, with an extra $20 to $25 for bus transportation to or from Annapolis, Solomons or Easton.
After May 20, the price goes up to $120. For those registering on July 28, the cost is $150. The tour's popularity is evident: It attracted 500 riders in 1989, its first year, and 950 last year. This year Ms. Hillman is anticipating about 1,200.
Each rider receives a T-shirt, tour book and cycler identification. Helmets are required along the route and all minors must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information about the trip call (800) 842-BANK.