Australian to cycle with grandfather

CAM-TOUR SPANS THE GENERATIONS

July 26, 1993|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Staff Writer

At the age of 68, William Saxon will start a six-day, 320-mile bike ride this morning with his granddaughter -- concerned about the rate at which he is pushing himself.

The commercial real estate broker from Baltimore and his 17-year-old companion will be two of about 1,400 riders in the fifth annual First National Bank Cycle Across Maryland (CAM) Tour, which will begin in Cambridge.

This will be Mr. Saxon's third consecutive CAM-Tour. He rode alone in 1991, his first one. Last year, his son, Ken, accompanied him.

Mr. Saxon, who will pedal this week with Eliana Saxon, his granddaughter from Cairns, Australia, is beginning to re-evaluate his stamina. "I realize that I have five more grandchildren," he said. "My wheels are going to fall off if I keep at this."

Dubbed the "Fifth-Year Cyclebration," this year's CAM-Tour has attracted its most riders.

About 1,150 cyclists participated in 1992's tour, said Pat Bernstein, Cycle Across Maryland's executive director. She said the number of riders has grown since the first tour in 1989, when 500 took part.

The tour changes its route every year. This year's route involves both the Eastern Shore and parts of Central Maryland around Baltimore.

It will begin in Cambridge today and continue tomorrow from Federalsburg to Chestertown.

On Wednesday's third leg, riders will make their way to Rock Hall, then board five ferries for trips across the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The participants will then pedal west into Catonsville, spending the night at Catonsville Community College.

Thursday's leg will run north to Westminster. Friday's route will go to Bel Air. On Saturday, July 31, riders will head southwest to finish at Towson State University.

The route provides the cyclists with a view of Maryland that they might not get to see otherwise, said Ms. Bernstein.

"Each year we try to explore different areas of the state," she said. "It's always neat to introduce them to these different areas. We are bringing Marylanders to see their own state."

Tomorrow's course is described as the "Special 100 Day." What's "special" is that riders can opt for a 60-mile ride between Federalsburg and Chestertown on the Eastern Shore -- or a more circuitous, not to mention tiring, 100-mile route that includes a dip into Delaware and back into Maryland.

L The diversity of the cyclists has also grown over the years.

The ages of cyclists registered for this year's tour range from 8 to 80. About three-quarters of the riders are Marylanders, but the remaining quarter come from 29 other states. Cyclists from Canada and the Philippines are registered as well.

Riders will be averaging 50 to 55 miles a day this week, rain or shine. They can stop at various drink and rest stops along the route. Most will sleep in tents, although some will sleep in school gymnasiums or off-site motels. Their gear is moved between overnight stops by truck, making the touring bikes less cumbersome to ride.

Meals are provided by the host sites at the beginning and end of each leg.

The tour is noncompetitive, and most riders start about the same time each day, but the finish is more ragged, depending on riders' skills, strength and riding conditions.

Ms. Bernstein said the tour provides the cyclists and the people at the host sites with opportunities they might not have had.

By selling meals to riders, communities along the way make extra money, she said, adding: "It's a nice combination. A win-win situation for everybody."

The opportunity to see parts of the state he didn't know about inspired Mr. Saxon to join the tour in 1991 after he had heard about it in 1989.

"I thought, 'Gee, this would be a nice chance to see the back roads of Maryland,' " Mr. Saxon said. "But I made up excuses not to do it. Then, two years later, I thought, 'I'm 66, and if I don't do it now, I may never get it done.' So, I did it."

This year, Mr. Saxon said his granddaughter wanted to cycle with him "because she's heard about it for the past couple years from her uncle. She would like to see the state, which is quite different from the tropical area that she lives in."

Mr. Saxon said that although he is not a regular rider year-round, his regimen leading up to CAM-Tours involves training on a 22-mile route from his Baltimore home about two months ahead of the tour's start.

"I don't even look at a bicycle during the year," he said.

Mr. Saxon said he is undaunted by the amount of mileage he puts his body through to complete the tour, because of a technique he employs when he cycles. "I collapse every 20 minutes and take a five-minute nap," he said. "Then I can get back on and go."

Proceeds from the $170 registration fee for each rider will be used to buy helmets for elementary school children throughout the state.

Cycle Across Maryland has distributed more than 4,000 free helmets over the past four years, Ms. Bernstein said.

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