There’s nothing quite like the salt air of the ocean, the flat riding surfaces of the coast, the scenery, and the breaking of spring to bring cyclists to the southern end of Delaware. While known for summer activities along the beaches and the waterways, Sussex County — and the Bethany Beach Indian River area in particular — offers a fantastic reason to visit this spring and to plan that visit now. The 26th annual Ocean to Bay Bike Tour is the perfect reason to visit the area, enjoy the springtime, do something healthy, and shake off the remains of the winter blues.
Registration is now open for the event, which takes place April 18 in Bethany Beach. The earlier you register, the lower the rate — so do it now, before your calendar fills up with less important things. The annual event now attracts 2,000 cyclists, of all ages and skill levels.
At the easier end of the spectrum is the 5-mile family fun ride. Registration is only $25 for the first registrant and $15 per additional cyclist; children 5 and under are free (although bag and shirt are not included). More experienced riders can opt for the 5-mile, 30-mile, 50-mile, or metric century (100km) routes. Completing the routes is optional. Discounts are available for teams of six or more cyclists on these routes; check for details on this during registration.
Stops along the way
Part of the popularity of cycling near the shoreline comes from the views. Enjoy scenic vistas from Holt’s Landing State Park and the commanding views of the Indian River or the wildlife seen at Salt Grass Point and Dirickson’s Creek.
Holt’s Landing is one of the rest stops for the 30-mile, 50-mile, and metric century riders. Support is available there from 8:00 to 11:30am. If you’ve not been there, the park offers great views of the Indian River and Bay from its expansive fishing pier.
The Bishop’s Landing Club House is a stop for the 30-mile riders from 8:30am to noon, while 50-mile and metric century riders have stops set up at the PNC Bank in Selbyville from 9:00am to 1:00pm, and the Bayside Clubhouse from 9:30am to 1:30pm. Selbyville is the town you see on Route 54 heading from 113 toward Fenwick Island and Assawoman Bay. Bayside Clubhouse is located in the community. You might recognize Freeman Stage, where big-name entertainers such as Sheryl Crow please the summer crowds. Bishop’s Landing’s Club House is beautiful and is located further north near Route 26 in Oceanview.
While these stops offer support for the bike tour, there are plenty of other worthy sights along the way.
The mostly flat countryside is spotted with old farmhouses, chicken coops, turn-of-the-century buildings, and cool little shops, as well as marshlands and waterways that all lead to the bays and eventually the ocean.
You can’t miss the waterfowl, which will be returning from their winter roosts. If you are lucky and have a sharp eye, you may spot beaver, deer, bald eagles, egrets, herons, and hawks.
Start and finish
All routes, regardless of length, begin and end in Bethany Beach. A “Show & Go” ceremonial start is at 7:30am. Registered cyclists receive bibs and event shirts at check-in, and must be wearing their bib numbers to have access to support services. From 8:00am until 3:00pm, a sag wagon provides the necessary support services, in addition to the designated rest stops which are equipped with restrooms, food, music, door prizes, and beverages. The routes and rest locations are strategically located to break up the trip into reasonable segments and help keep you energized.
At the end of the day, reward yourself with the after party. Again this year, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses offer a “Continue the Tour” bonus. Each rider receives a $5 voucher attached to their bib that can be used any time following registration and packet pick-up in many participating businesses. Offered specials are geared towards cyclists’ needs. Stay tuned for details.
Need a place to stay? ResortQuest, as a supporting sponsor, offers a 10 percent discount on lodging options. Just use the code INT-OTB (Ocean to Bay) at the time of reservation.
Need to know: Ocean to Bay tour director Lauren Weaver, of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, can answer questions (302-539-2100 ext. 118 or firstname.lastname@example.org).