SALISBURY, MD---Some two decades ago, a group of 68 cycling enthusiasts banded together for Salisbury University’s first Sea Gull Century. This year, organizers welcomed more than 8,300 cyclists for the 21st ride on Saturday, October 10.
Over the years, the picturesque ride across the Lower Eastern Shore has grown to include two routes: the 100-mile Assateague century and the 100-kilometer Princess Anne metric (64 miles). Cycling enthusiasts in the local region, and from as far away as Maine, Colorado and the Virgin Islands, return year after year because of the terrain, the challenge, the food, the entertainment and the chance to explore the Chesapeake region.
New for this year was a rest stop at Nassawango Golf Course, where riders may enjoy the shade of cypress trees on the banks of the Pocomoke River. Other stops included Assateague Island’s panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and famous wild ponies, and Adkins Mill Pond, where riders filled up on pie à la mode before the final leg. Stops featured everything from high-carbohydrate food to eclectic music played by bands including the Bonedaddys, the Permilla Project, the Honeycombs and the Jam Junkies.
Another change is the start and finish locations, due to construction of a new home for SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business. With a show-and-go start from 7-9 a.m., the ride begins near the corner of Bateman and Wayne streets, and ends near the mall outside of Henson Hall.
On Friday night, riders and their companions attended a “Meet at the Boardwalk” welcome reception near Maggs Center. On Saturday many took part in a Lawn Party on the mall outside Henson Hall. Saturday also featured an outdoor festival at The Centre at Salisbury, with food, vendors and concerts by Dawn and the Williams Project, and No Byscuyts.
Also new for 2009 was an optional 24-mile ride to Bordeleau Vineyards and Winery on Sunday for a tasting and tour. Other optional rides allowed participants to tour the carving collections in SU’s Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art on Friday or enjoy crab feasts at the Old Mill or Red Roost crab houses on Sunday.
This year’s Sea Gull Century print was “Super Course” by Karin Saral Hoffman. It depicted a 1973 Raleigh Classic along Route 611 to Assateague Island. Prints and merchandise are available at www.seagullcenturystore.com.
A “Best Bicycling in America” event, the century is named among the top 10 rides in the nation by Bicycling magazine. The Ride Magazine has called it “one of the prettiest big rides in America.” The Washington Post has named it “by far the most popular local century” in the Maryland-Delaware-Virginia region. The century also earned kudos from Washington, D.C. Sports Travel Examiner Lisa Kilday. The largest one-day tourism event in Wicomico County, the century has an estimated annual economic impact on the Lower Eastern Shore up to $2.5 million, according to SU’s Perdue School of Business.
Sea Gull Century proceeds support programs on campus and in the community, including an annual scholarship fund for SU students and more than $100,000 in contributions to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.