Bike, Band & Bay Festival
|These bikers took the 22-mile Mobjack route at the Tour de Chesapeake’s “Bike, Band and Bay Festival” last year in Mathews County. (Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation)|
by Larry S. Chowning
The 14th annual Tour de Chesapeake on Friday and Saturday, May 18-19, will feature the “Bike, Band and Bay Festival” in Mathews County. This year the Mathews Land Conservancy and the Mathews Visitor Center are teaming up to host the annual cycling event that in the past was sponsored by Bike Virginia.
Mathews County will roll out the red carpet for hundreds of bicyclists coming to enjoy the annual event. The county offers great flat routes with views of the water around every turn, delicious local eats, toe-tapping music and nice, down-home folks eager to help with cyclers’ needs.
The Tour de Chesapeake is a family-friendly event that on Saturday features a fully-supported ride with rest stops, great scenery and historical sites, and multiple route choices.
On Friday, registration for the ride is from 4-8:30 p.m. at the event headquarters, Thomas Hunter Middle School (THMS) at 387 Church Street near Mathews Court House. Also at this site there will be sponsor tables and programs on bike repair.
On Friday evening from 8-11 p.m., the music portion of the event will kick-in as “The Lefdovers” will perform at the Portside Deck and Bar of the White Dog Inn on Church Street. The concert is free and open to the public.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, May 18: Registration and Check-In – 4-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Hunter Middle School
Tour de Chesapeake merchandise on sale, Mathews Welcome Center will be open, Saturday Bike Rodeo sign-up table (YMCA), entertainment provided by Carolyn and Mike August, baked goods, Mathews’ famous limeades, and fresh kettle corn available, sponsor tables open, Cycles Ed Bike Repair
10 a.m.-7 p.m. – Local merchants on Main Street keep their doors open late for your convenience.
8-11 p.m. – “The Lefdovers” perform at the Portside Deck & Bar of the White Dog Inn, Church Street; 804-725-7680 – Free and open to the public
Saturday, May 19: THE RIDE – CYCLIST INFORMATION/ACTIVITIES
7-10 a.m. – Registration/Check-in open (Inside THMS)
6:30-8:30 a.m. – Full hot breakfast served inside THMS ($7) – Pre-registration and walk-ins welcome
8-10 a.m. – All routes open; SAG available; rest stops open
11:00 a.m. – Family Fun Ride – Starting from Thomas Hunter Middle School, this will begin with a safety briefing. Then local police auxiliary will lead/follow cyclists along this four mile route. Free for anyone.
Lunch is on your own OR you can pre-order a box lunch from the White Dog Inn
10:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m. – Box lunch pick up at the White Dog Inn (pre-registration recommended; walk ups taken first come, first served) located on Church Street (go to the Portside Deck)
1 p.m.-4 p.m. – Neck and shoulder massage – small fee at THMS
3 – 5 p.m. – “Tour de Cheesecake” dessert by The Cake Man on Main Street – *Free for all registered full tour cyclists at THMS
5 p.m. – All routes close
Saturday is the main day. Final registration and check-in is 7 to 10 a.m. at THMS. A “full” hot breakfast will be served from 6:30-8:30 a.m. for cyclists. The cost of the breakfast is $7.
The starting point for all routes is THMS and all routes are open starting at 8 a.m., and close at 5 p.m. The routes range from 18 to 100 miles. A route for families with children is included.
Around Mathews, all roads lead to saltwater, beach and marsh—and riders will see a lot of this! A colored route map is available identifying the four designated routes for the day. The Mobjack route is a 22-mile ride; Gwynn’s Island route, 19 miles; Bethel Beach route, 24 miles; and New Point Comfort route, 21 miles.
The cost for adults and teen riders is $30; children ages 7-12, $20; and children ages 6 and under, free. Included in the fee are route maps, road signage, full gear support, well-equipped rest stops, hot showers, post-ride dessert, free parking (non-RV), and bike repair support (extra cost may apply.)
There also will be a “Family Fun Ride” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, starting with a safety briefing at THMS. Then, the local police auxiliary will lead/follow cyclists along this 4-mile route, which is free for anyone.
There will be a “Bike Safety Rodeo For the Kids” from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Mathews Boys and Girls Club across from THMS. Free helmets will be given to those who complete the course, while they last. This event is sponsored by the local sheriff’s office, Mathews Family YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Club of Mathews. Also, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Bay School of The Arts will offer classes for children, which include punched tin butterflies and wilderness weaving. There also will be a playground available for children next to Mathews High School on Routes 14/198.
There will be post-ride dessert (cheesecake) served on Saturday from 3-5 p.m. An Indian tribe that lived on the banks of Mathews County when it was part of Gloucester County in colonial days was called “cheesecake” by the early English settlers. The organizers of the event decided to preserve this tidbit of history by providing desserts to participants. The desserts will be served at The Cake Man Bakery at 312 Main Street in Mathews Court House.
Capping off the event on Saturday will be a seafood feast from 4-8 p.m. at Williams Wharf Landing on Rt. 614. The menu will include a choice of crab cake sandwich or slow-smoked pulled pork sandwich with a quarter-pound of jumbo steamed shrimp, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, desserts and drink. Entertainment will be provided by the cast of Donk’s Theater, Virginia’s Li’l Ol’ Opry. The cost for the meal is $25 for adults and $10 for children age 6 and under. There is a $15 walk-up “no meal” option.