Cyclists ready for fourth day

July 29, 1993|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Staff Writer

ABOARD THE SENTINEL -- The ride across the Chesapeake Bay yesterday morning on this sightseeing ferry was a welcome break for cyclists who have been pedaling up to 100 miles a day in the grueling summer heat.

As a warm breeze blew off the water and across the upper deck, many of the 125 cyclists opted for the air-conditioned deck below to chat and trade jokes for the 2 1/2 -hour cruise between Rock Hall and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

"This beats riding in the Midwest," said Phil Harding of Milwaukee, Wis., 45, who left his native Baltimore 20 years ago. "All you see [there] is cornfields. Miles and miles of cornfields."

The bay cruise was the highlight of Day Three in the six-day First National Bank Cycle Across Maryland Tour -- the fifth annual trek in which more than 1,400 cyclists are seeing 320 miles of the state from aboard a bike.

Mr. Harding was one of the tour's cyclists who pedaled at dawn through the rural scenery of Chestertown and Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore and by afternoon found themselves weaving their way through the steamy streets of Baltimore to reach Catonsville Community College, the day's destination.

Aside from state police accompanying many of the cyclists along Baltimore streets, no special treatment was afforded them, said Pat Bernstein, Cycle Across Maryland's executive director.

"These folks observe all the rules of the road," she said. "We don't close any streets. We don't stop any traffic. We're just normal motorists."

Today's leg -- Day Four -- takes the cyclists to Westminster. The tour began in Cambridge Monday and on Tuesday wound through Federalsburg and Chestertown on the Shore. The cyclists will journey to Bel Air tomorrow and end Saturday at Towson State University.

And while many cyclists enjoyed the sights of the Eastern Shore, the change yesterday from rural to urban was a relief for some.

"My idea of fun is not getting on a bike and riding" in the countryside, said Danny Serpico, 13, of Laurel, who starts as a freshman at Hammond High School in September.

Danny's mother, Sally Serpico, explained with a smile: "I think he doesn't like the flat countryside. He's used to Howard County hills."

But, what the rural part of the tour did offer cyclists on Tuesday was a taste of Eastern Shore hospitality from residents along two routes there -- the standard 60-mile route and an optional 100-mile trek.

The longer of the two, known as the "Century" route, was 100 miles of road that more adventurous cyclists took from Federalsburg, up through a part of Delaware, and then back to Chestertown.

While many opted to take the traditional 60-mile path between Federalsburg and Chestertown, a good number of cyclists decided to face the stiffer challenge.

"It's competition with yourself," said Donna L. Morrison of Washington. "That's how I look at it."

But, Ms. Morrison, a 44-year-old District of Columbia public works employee, said the Century route had its downside.

"You're out on the road and you start to go crazy: 'I paid for all of this?' " she said. "But, it's worthwhile. I would recommend this to anyone who cycles."

Tim Newhouse, 33-year-old respiratory therapist from Catonsville, only began to relearn the art of riding a bike a couple of years ago -- but Tuesday he decided to "do the Century."

"I was fine while I was riding," Mr. Newhouse said. "I was OK until I set up my tent at the end."

Mr. Newhouse had never ridden more than 40 miles until then.

"I felt like it was quite an accomplishment," he said. "I was proud that I could do it. . . . Plus it was good terrain to do 100 miles on."

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