1,000 cyclists are expected to join 11th CAM bike tour in Western Md.

Options allow participants choice over rugged terrain

July 21, 1999|By Dee Dixon | Dee Dixon,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Annapolis psychologist Tom Bach, 58, intends to cycle 3,000 miles from Seattle to Washington, D.C., next summer.

So for him, the 11th Cycle Across Maryland bike tour, which runs Saturday through July 30, is a warm-up.

Bach, who has cycled for 40 years, began training for the American Lung Association's 3,000-mile Big Ride two years ago, and each bike tour he pedals his modified lightweight Panasonic through is preparation for that cross-country ride.

"I keep short goals and start with small rides," he said. "I want to stay alive, so I keep on moving."

"This isn't a race," said Pat Bernstein, executive director and founder of CAM. "You don't have to be a super jock with any extraordinary type of ability -- just the ability to get on a bicycle."

About 1,000 cyclists will participate in the tour, which will wind through rugged Western Maryland. It's a route that intimidates some registrants, said Bernstein.

"We always anticipate a drop when we go to Western Maryland because people perceive it to be a difficult ride," Bernstein said.

Bob Carson, 65, who rides about 6,500 miles a year, spent several months with a team of cyclists mapping the route.

"We've tried to make it as reasonable as possible, and -- with some options -- there are easier ways [to ride]," Carson said. "We tried to avoid the hills as much as possible, but the one day there is no choice involves some pretty significant climbs."

The hardest part of the tour is also the shortest -- 38 miles.

Options allow cyclists to modify their ride by picking shorter or longer routes, Carson said.

"There is so much to do in Western Maryland, and we have crafted a beautiful cycling trip and adventure list," Bernstein said.

Additional activities include a Potomac River canoe trip, mountain biking at Green Ridge Forest, a murder-mystery train ride, swimming, horse-drawn wagon rides, a crab feast and whitewater rafting.

Nancy Calvert, 44, a six-year veteran of the tour, said, "This year, I am in the best shape I have ever been in for this ride, and this will be my first time riding by myself." The past five years she has ridden a two-seat tandem bicycle with her husband.

Calvert, with her brother and sister, is planning to go whitewater rafting in Williamsport. Meanwhile, her husband will participate in the 100-mile Century Ride, which will take cyclists on a visit to Antietam National Battlefield near Hagerstown, then to the Pennsylvania line and back to Williamsport.

Refreshment, rest and first-aid stops will be set up along the path. Bernstein encourages people to ride at an 8-mph pace, which is slow enough for children.

"You have all day to complete the route, so you can take it real easy or take several breaks during the day so you have plenty of time to rest," Bernstein said.

Entertainment will be provided each night. As an alternative, cyclists can register for the mini-CAM Saturday through Tuesday, a three-day tour of Rocky Gap State Park.

Proceeds will benefit the CAM Teen Challenge, a four-month mentoring program for teens. Teens receive a new bike upon completing the program.

To register: 888-226-7433.

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