Cycling -- and eating -- across Md. Riders from 28 states in Havre de Grace

fueling up for 6-day ride

July 22, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

It's a 350-mile, six-day trek through parts of Maryland -- but the more than 1,000 cyclists setting off today from Havre de Grace are not exactly health nuts.

Pit barbecue and pizza -- not tofu and vegetables -- topped yesterday's lunch menu for the participants who wheeled, walked and drove into the small, Harford County bay shore town in preparation for today's send-off.

And for the cyclists who will burn thousands of calories riding about 55 miles a day, the eating -- hearty and downright artery-clogging -- has just begun, says Pat Bernstein, executive director of Cycle Across Maryland.

"Fully half of them ride because they know this is the one week in their lives they can eat anything they want," Bernstein said, standing across the street from a sizzling, missile-sized barbecue grill.

"They eat their way across the state," she said. "They will eat anything that doesn't eat them."

This year the cycling -- and eating -- tour will take residents from 28 states from Havre de Grace to Pylesville to Union Bridge to Silver Spring to Westminster to Essex and to Bel Air, where the trip will end Saturday.

"This is a vacation. It's just a week of enjoyment to get away from the life you are normally doing," said Mitchell Tobias of Reisterstown, looking sporty as a bike-gear advertisement as he grabbed his lunch of three slices of pizza in front of the local high school.

The cyclists -- the majority from Maryland -- will ride the route solo, or with friends and relatives.

Both of 12-year-old Brandon Kappert's grandfathers will accompany him on this year's trip. One of them, John Layne, of Neptune Beach, Fla., said riding as a family gives them a chance to grow closer.

"It's a challenge you can share, and it's a feeling of accomplishment you can share," Layne said.

But perhaps for Brandon, a student at Wilde Lake Middle School, the trip has less to do with family bonding. "It's just pretty much fun and I get to beat them up the hill," he said.

Frederick residents Brian and John Blumenauer have ridden in the event since it began eight years ago. The brothers' first 12-mile trip left them breathless and panting.

Now cycling has become their main hobby. The brothers cycle about 5,000 miles each a year -- riding together every week.

For them the trip is about camaraderie, admiring the landscape -- and splurging on ice cream. They look for a shop as soon as they pull into a town.

"You've ridden 60 miles so you can eat ice cream," John Blumenauer said.

Pub Date: 7/22/96

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