Big caravan of cyclists reach Medina on day 1 of canal trek

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 July 2022 at 10:14 pm

Group of 750 come from 40 states for annual Cycle the Erie Canal

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Several local residents are taking part in the 24th annual Parks and Trails New York’s annual Cycle the Erie Canal Tour. Here, Chris Leavitt,  a student at Medina High School; Tom Stanowski of Warwick; Dean Bellack of Medina; and Jeff and Bronwyn Green of East Shelby posed on the grounds of Wise Intermediate School, where they camped Sunday night.

MEDINA – Cyclists, totaling 750 from 40 states, arrived in Medina on Sunday enroute to Albany on the Cycle the Erie Canal Tour.

The Medina Tourism Committee arranged an afternoon and evening of events to entertain the bikers, who began arriving about 1 p.m., said Tourism Chairman Jim Hancock.

The riders, who were accompanied by a shower truck and other escort vehicles, set up a tent city on the grounds of the Wise Intermediate School.

Kim Mann of Schaghticoke, left, chats with David Chintry of Castleton-on-Hudson in the tent city set up on the grounds of Wise Intermediate School.

Kim Mann from Schaghticoke said while some of the riders had their own tents, others chose to use a tent service, which follows the tour, provides a tent and sets it up. The tents came with a chair, air mattress and towel. This is his first time riding the Cycle the Erie Canal Tour, but he has biked in the Finger Lakes, Bike Maine and Bike Virginia.

There was a snag in plans, however, Mann said, when some the school and college students hired to set up tents didn’t show up. Eventually, all the tents were set up, he said.

Riders came from across the state and beyond to do the ride, including several Medina residents.

Chris Leavitt, who will be a senior at Medina High School, was encouraged by Dean Bellack of Medina, an avid biker, to make the ride. Leavitt’s mother is acquainted with Bellack and he has been encouraging Chris to get out and ride.

Bellack said he did the ride for the first time four years ago, and is doing it this year to get Chris involved in riding bikes

Jeff and Bronwyn Green of East Shelby recently bought new bikes and have been practicing to make the Erie Canal ride, Bronwyn said.

“We have been riding locally (to Spencerport, for example) and in June just did the Black Fly Challenge from Inlet to Old Forge in the Adirondacks,” she said. “That was 38.4 miles. Many summers we used to come to Medina and walked by the bikers camped here, and now we are one of them.”

Next summer, the Greens plan to go to Glacier National Park and do the “Going to the Sun Road” bike tour.

David Chintry from Castleton-on-Hudson did the Cycle the Erie Canal Tour in 2006 and 2008. He was relaxing in front of his tent and listening to the band Pocket Change playing on the Wise School grounds.

“All these little towns are wonderful,” Chintry said.

A sea of tents blankets the lawn at Wise Intermediate School, where on Sunday night the band Pocket Change planed on a stage in the background.

The Cycle the Erie Canal Tour is a 400-mile ride, which began Sunday morning in Buffalo. Sunday they got to go through the locks in Lockport and view the caves before continuing their ride along the towpath to Medina. After leaving Medina Monday morning, the cyclists will spend Monday night in Pittsford, Tuesday in Waterloo/Seneca Falls area, Wednesday in Syracuse, Thursday in Rome, Friday in Canajoharie and Saturday in Schenectady, ending on Sunday in Albany.

The riders will cover between 31 and 64 miles each day.

In Medina, the Medina Tourism Committee arranged for a shuttle from Ridge Road Express to run continuously from the camp area to downtown and back. Several businesses, including Medina Railroad Museum and Medina Tourism Booth, stayed open later to allow the riders to visit.

From 4 to 6 p.m., David Viterna and his band entertained in State Street Park, and from 7 to 9 p.m., the band Pocket Change played on a stage on the school grounds.

Supper was provided in the Wise School cafeteria by Zambistro’s, who will also cook breakfast.

Hancock said this is the 24th year Medina has been the first overnight stop on the Cycle the Erie Canal Tour.