Big group of cyclists reach Medina on July 7, head through Orleans next day

Photo by Tom Rivers: These cyclists stop by an interpretive panel in Ridgeway above the Canal Culvert on July 11, 2022. This is the only spot where you can drive under the Erie Canal.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 June 2024 at 9:27 am

MEDINA – Spending the night in Medina has been a tradition for Cycle the Erie Canal for all 26 years of its existence. (One year they stayed at the Fairgrounds when the school was doing a capital project.)

There are 650 cyclists already registered for the event this year, sponsored by Parks and Trails New York.

The 400-mile ride takes cyclists along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, spending nights in canal villages and visiting historic sites along the way.

Jim Hancock, chair of Medina Tourism Committee, shows tourism booth volunteer Shari Cassidy some of the events planned for Parks and Trails New York’s annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour, scheduled July 7 to 14. Between 650 and 700 cyclists will arrive in Medina and spend the night on July 7.

In Medina, the grounds of Wise Middle School becomes “Tent City” as cyclists and their support crew arrive and begin setting up their tents for the night.

Tourism Committee chair Jim Hancock and his team have been busy for months planning to welcome the cyclists, who usually begin arriving around 2 p.m.

He said the school has been a big part of this event nearly every year since “Cycle the Erie Canal” started.

“They open their buildings and have staff on hand to help,” Hancock said. “Cyclists can camp in the gym if they prefer not to be outdoors, have access to the restrooms and showers and use of the cafeteria.”

The Tourism Committee sponsors a shuttle which takes cyclists back and forth from the school to downtown Medina, dropping them off at stops along the way. Main attractions include the Medina Railroad Museum, which will be open until 5 p.m.; the Sandstone Hall of Fame, the Visitors’ Center and canal basin, where Brian Hellner will have his boat ready for hour-long tours on the canal.

Authors’ Note owner Julie Berry sets up a booth in the school full of books on the Erie Canal. She will ship them to the bikers’ home if they wish.

At State Street Park, a concert is planned from 4 to 6 p.m., featuring bluegrass music by Creek Bend. It is free and open to the public, Hancock said. He also plans to have a food truck there.

At Tent City, a welcome booth will be set up by the Tourism Committee, where Guin Panek from Ledge Rock Farms annually provides a tote of sweet cherries for the cyclists, a treat they really enjoy, Hancock said.

Dinner the night of arrival will be catered in the Middle School cafeteria by Zambistro’s, who also provides a send-off breakfast in the morning.

Several seminars of interest about the canal are scheduled in the school on Sunday afternoon and early evening.

From 7 to 9 p.m. at the school, a concert will be presented by Pocket Change with Dave Stockton.

Hancock also extended his appreciation to Todd Eick’s FFA class at Medina High School, who volunteer every year to help unload gear and set up tents.

Also at the welcome booth, cyclists can pick up a rack card with a schedule of the highlighted attractions, a schedule of the shuttle bus and, on the back, a listing of future events planned in Medina.

“After spending a day with us, we know they are going to want to come back,” Hancock said.

After leaving Medina, the cyclists’ destination the next day will be in Fairport. Along the way they have rest stops and snacks provided in Albion and Holley.