Biking for fresh breakfasts Rides: The quiet countryside -- and frequent pancake fund-raisers -- draw weekend cyclists to Carroll County.

November 12, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Some people will go to great lengths for a pancake breakfast, even if it means getting up early and sitting on a tiny, hard, triangular seat to pedal 30 to 40 miles over rolling and sometimes steep hills.

The lure is the Carroll County countryside -- and enticing breakfasts of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, biscuits, hominy and pudding offered at small-town fire halls.

An autumn staple in such places as Union Bridge and New Windsor, this bike-and-eat combination makes Carroll a popular destination for weekend bicyclists.

"Wonderful rolling hills, beautiful countryside and these little back roads that are not heavily traveled, just breathtakingly beautiful," sums up the appeal for Amy Berdann, a Cockeysville cyclist who recently led a pancake breakfast ride from South Carroll High School to Union Bridge.

Carroll is one of the best areas for cyclists in metropolitan Baltimore because growth hasn't been as overwhelming as in other other counties, said Harvey Muller, a county resident who is bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Heavy traffic makes roads in Howard and Baltimore counties more difficult to ride -- not to mention dangerous. But in Carroll County, cyclists find that motorists generally "smile and wave. They have good road manners," Berdann said.

Every weekend, the 3,000-member Baltimore Bicycle Club offers rides for every skill level in the metropolitan region, and many excursions are in Carroll County.

Other bicycle clubs, including Potomac Pedalers and Hanover Cyclers Inc., also find Carroll's country roads inviting.

Food is part of the reason to ride.

There are, for example, pancake breakfast rides to Union Bridge and New Windsor in western Carroll County, pie a la mode rides to Baugher's Restaurant and ice cream rides to Hoffman's, both in Westminster.

"The deal with riding a bicycle is that if you ride it hard, you get to eat what you like and don't gain weight," said Jim White, a construction supervisor from Towson and co-leader of a recent pancake breakfast ride.

A bicyclist pedaling at 10 mph burns an average 370 calories an hour, meaning he or she can devour a hearty breakfast with little worry.

On a recent Sunday at the Union Bridge pancake breakfast, bikers filled plates with pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, hominy and pudding -- a calorie-laden mixture of hog organs, cornmeal, rye flour and head meat such as jowls. The "all you care to eat" breakfasts cost $5, a price most bicyclists consider a bargain.

Cyclists are usually among the regulars at New Windsor Volunteer Fire Company breakfasts, where the menu is similar, and it's all homemade, fire company President Bill Kreimer added with pride.

He said the cyclists are part of an average 600 to 650 patrons who help the volunteer firefighters raise about $3,000 a year through breakfasts.

"We have a good turnout of bikers and appreciate their patronage," Kreimer said.

Bicyclists' appetites are no heartier than those of farmers who have milked cows before coming to the fire company breakfasts, he said.

"I guess if I was going to ride a bicycle all day, I'd want a good breakfast," he said.

It's more than food that entices some to bicycle for pancakes.

"Yes, we do like to eat pancakes," Berdann said, "but we feel it's important to support the communities where we ride, the fire companies, because when we fall, they're the ones who come out and get us."

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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