ANNAPOLIS — In just minutes, despite a constant drizzle, a village of red, blue and green tents emerges on a field behind St. John's College.
It is the afternoon of the first day of the annual Cycle Across Maryland tour, which began 65 miles south in Solomons, Calvert County, and ended in the state's capital city.
The bicyclists are soaked, and camp is welcome.
Before they head for lines at the showers, though, they grab their gear -- sleepingbags, tents and clothing -- from one of the trucks and make camp.
Others, who have opted to sleep indoors, head for the gymnasium to blow up mattresses and spread blankets and sleeping bags.
Today, there is hot water running in the showers -- a welcome respite after a ride that became downright chilly from the rain and the winds off theChesapeake Bay.
So far, camp has been little more than just that -- camp. A place to pitch a tent and sleep.
The day before, in Solomons, registration and other activities were downtown, about a half-mile from the Naval Recreation Center, where riders made camp.
In Annapolis, the Annapolis Jaycees are on hand to welcome riders and have set up stands to provide information on the area and sell Jaycees T-shirts.
The organization sponsored a crab feast at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the evening -- a feast many, like Randy Wilson of Westminster, paid to take advantage of.
"It was all the crabs you could eat," said Wilson, a computer instructor at Carroll Community College. "It was terrific."
Eldersburg residents Anthony Green and his daughter Cynthia,
18, opted for an Italian dinner at Maria's in downtown Annapolis.
Afterward, they strolled the city's streets before attending a mandatory riders meeting, where they learnedabout the next day's route.
Some riders complain that the activities have been sparse in both Solomons and Annapolis.
Unlike the organized crab feast in Annapolis, dinner the day before was an eat-on-your-own affair. Many ate in Solomons downtown eateries.
Breakfastalso was catch-as-catch-can the morning of the first
day of riding.
The 50-year-old Wilson, riding his second tour, intended to begin the day with pancakes at a Hardee's restaurant.
But long lines forced him to settle for a couple of doughnuts and some orange juice from a nearby High's convenience store.
The rest of the week will include organized breakfasts and dinners for the 1,078 riders -- 33 of whom are from Carroll County. Planned activities also are expected to improve. At Essex Community College, yesterday's camping site, riders could choose swim
ming, horseshoes, racquetball and volleyballfor after-bicycling recreation.
The college also was showing freemovies, including "Misery" and "Sleeping With the Enemy," through the afternoon and evening.
Arriving at the college, riders were greeted with balloons and cheerleaders and a variety of booths selling hot dogs, soda, chips and fruit.
"It looks like we're a little more welcome here," said Mike Gesuele of Eldersburg, also on his second CAM-Tour.