This story is by Mirror staff writer Jane McKinley
Saturday marked the 26th CBES annual Between the Waters bike ride. Riders were greeted with blustery weather and “liquid sunshine” which didn’t let up for most of the day. In spite of these impediments, spirits were high and riders were, once again, treated to an inside view of the beautiful Virginia Eastern Shore. Having participated in this annual event since 2014, I am reminded each year that this event introduced me to the area, ultimately resulting in my move to Cape Charles. And I understand that I’m not the first to either move, vacation or buy property here after seeing the wonder of the Eastern Shore in this intimate way.
Each year the location moves to a different 25, 40, 60 and 100 mile route, taking turns between Northampton and Accomack counties. This year’s ride, out of Onancock, quickly reached its registration goal for both the ride and the oyster roast. Total number of riders is kept to around 1,000 to ensure their safety and to provide a more personal experience. Having opted for a shorter ride than planned due to the weather uncertainty, I rode the 25-mile route which impressed me with the beautiful little villages and towns that we rode through. This route took us through Onancock, Accomac and Onley plus numerous small villages. The other views were obstructed by the raindrops settling on my glasses!
Others commented on how happy the riders were in spite of the weather. With only one significant “river” to navigate (early on, the greater-than-25 milers rode through water “up to my knees!”), being wet and soggy just added to the ambiance of the ride. The pace was slower and, perhaps, riders got started a little later than planned, but we all made it!
This event is CBES’ biggest fundraiser, supporting its mission to build an awareness of our natural and cultural resources. And is unofficially the largest ecotourism event on the Shore. It also
has a valuable side benefit of bringing revenue into the towns and counties. Last year, the ride out of Sunset Beach Resort generated an estimated $300,000 in total dollars spent by bike tour riders on items such as lodging, food and shopping. This year CBES partnered with the Onancock Business & Civic Association to offer discounts on purchases in town and supplementary events including a movie night at the Roseland, a community Spaghetti Dinner and a Bike & Brew celebration following the ride.
The traditional Oyster Roast returned to its popular Eastville location on the bay hosted by John Wescoat, son of CBES founder, Suzanne Wescoat. The event featured the popular and delicious Eastern Shore clam chowder and fresh-from-the-tides oysters. Oysters were roasted over an open fire with bucketsful for the taking poured out along the table. An upgrade to this year’s event was the cash bar offering selections from Chatham Vineyard and Cape Charles Brewery.
The Between the Waters ride offers a unique experience not found among many large bike riding events. Riders have repeatedly commented on how friendly and helpful the volunteers are which sets this ride apart. I’m sure you agree that this friendliness is reflective of the spirit of the Eastern Shore. Thanks are extended to the 120+ volunteers who offer their friendliness and make this event such a hit year after year.
Thanks also go to Sally Richardson, Bike Tour Coordinator, and Donna Bozza, Executive Director, who spent many long hours over many months working to ensure the success of this year’s ride.
Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore works year-round to inform and equip citizens and local government for the development of sound public policy. CBES is committed to promoting sustainable development, economic success, natural resource preservation and social responsibility to ensure a healthy and successful community. It’s monthly newsletter, “Shoreline,” is an interesting and informative read which provides in-depth analysis on issues that impact the Shore community. For more information and to find out how to become a member, visit their website at www.cbes.org.
And, if you are riding out of Cape Charles and interested in learning about routes of different lengths, please go to my article, “If Your Bike Beckons,” published in the Mirror last Spring.
Hope to see you at the 2019 CBES ride!