Personal milestones are set every day at Salisbury University, but Saturday, Oct. 4 saw thousands of people pass a handful of them on their bike ride.
The 31st annual Sea Gull Century took place on Saturday, Oct. 4 here on the Eastern Shore. Thousands of cyclists from all over came to participate in one of two bicycle rides through the area.
The largest one-day tourism event for Wicomico County, the Century has an estimated impact of $4.5 million, according to SU’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network.
Consisting of a 64-mile ride and a 100-mile ride, the Century is not a race, but an event designed to bring together cyclists and attention to the natural beauty of the Shore.
The casual nature of the event took riders like Tamon Honda, a 53-year-old Federal Aviation Administration employee from Arlington, Virginia, by surprise.
“The people were really nice. I thought there were going to be a lot of a lot of alphas,” Honda said. “The last time I did something like this was a triathlon, and you really do get the alpha types for that.
Cyclists are known for being competitive not only about their bikes, but their performance. To riders like Honda, this departure from the often-competitive cycling scene is a relief.
“You know, there wasn't a lot of jockeying for position or trying to show others up, just people riding at their own pace,” Honda said.
The Century has been named one of the top 10 century bike rides by Bicycling Magazine. Cyclists often praise the beautiful coastal scenery as well as the flat terrain.
In fact, it was the prospect of an easy ride that made Susanne Goodwin and Armella Schroder, two friends both aged 55 from Reston, Virginia, head up for the ride.
“It’s nearby, so it’s not too far to drive. And it’s flat,” Schroder said.
“It’s a good time of year, too. We thought it was going to be a little warmer, but it’ll warm up,” said Goodwin, shortly before she and Schroder departed.
While many participants were older cyclists and not from the area, there were SU students represented in the Century as well.
Julia Rorher, a junior and an English to speakers of other languages major who rode with her dad, had a pleasant ride up and down the coast.
“It was a really awesome experience,” Rohrer said. “This was my first time doing it, so I didn't really know what to expect.”
Not only was this Rohrer’s first Sea Gull Century, it was her first time cycling for more than 50 miles.
“The most I had done in my training was 50 miles, so my goal was to finish the full 100.”
Like many first timers participating in a large ride, Rohrer went into the Century not knowing for sure if she could complete it.
However, she felt confident having spent so much of her summer working up to cycling for longer distances.
“This summer, I was kind of like ‘Well, you know what? I could do it. Let me just let me just start out and see how I go,’” Rohrer said. “And then sure enough, I was going farther and farther every time I went out for a bike ride. And then I was like, ‘Well, I might as well sign up and go for it.’”
The wrong type of bicycle or poor training regimen can derail an aspiring distance cyclist’s dreams.
Rohrer found that taking small steps and having the right equipment made all the difference in her conditioning.
“I would definitely recommend getting a good bike. I think that’s really important,” Rohrer said. “Definitely get a road bike, and not just, like, what a lot of students have, which are just, like, little cruisers.”
It also pays to know about bikes and why beyond short transportation why specialization is key in purchasing one.
“My friend’s dad did the 100 miles on a mountain bike, and he was hurting,” Rohrer said. “You need to know the difference between a mountain bike versus a road bike versus a hybrid bike, and what the different bikes can do.”
For those seeking a guide on how to start cycling with purpose, a guide by Bicycling Magazine can be found here.
By K.B. MENSAH
Featured image: K.B. Mensah Images.