Cyclists from 34 states begin 8-day ride along canal today

Posted 11 July 2021 at 8:37 am

300-plus participants will reach Medina later today, pass through Albion and Holley on Monday

Photo by Tom Rivers: Cyclists cross Main Street in front of the lift bridge in Albion on July 9, 2018 when about 650 cyclists were part of the eight-day Cycling the Erie Canal. The cyclists will be staying at “tent city” tonight in Medina.

Press Release, Parks & Trails New York

ALBANY – After going virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic, the annual eight-day, cross-state Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour returns this year, departing from Buffalo today and arriving in Albany eight days later on July 18.

Reduced in numbers to meet Covid-safety requirements, more than 300 cyclists from 34 states will cross New York State as part of the 23rd Cycle the Erie Canal tour organized by the statewide nonprofit Parks & Trails New York.

Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now more than 85 percent complete and is the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

The decision to go ahead with the event was a difficult one that was made several months after planning usually begins. Coordinators faced many challenges in putting together this year’s event to keep it safe for riders, volunteers, and the numerous communities through which the tour passes, especially as regulations were continually changing.

Cycle the Erie Canal riders are required to either be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of the start of the ride.

The first day of the tour takes cyclists through Lockport, where they can opt to take a boat ride through a lock, and ends in the historic community of Medina.

On day two, riders enjoy rest stops in friendly “port” villages such as Holley and Spencerport, where a unique “lift bridge” carries Main Street over the canal. They can take an excursion along the Genesee River bike path into downtown Rochester, with its spectacular waterfalls. They also stop in Pittsford and visit Schoen Place’s popular boutiques, galleries, and cafes.

“Cycle the Erie Canal tour is a wonderful way to experience the Erie Canal. It’s fun, healthy, and good for the economy,” says Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “We have cyclists aged 12 to 88 and they all get to experience what makes the Erie Canal and upstate New York so special.”

The Erie Canalway Trail contributes significantly to the economy of upstate New York. A recent study shows that the Erie Canalway Trail generates an economic impact of $253 million.

The NYS Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority have partnered with Parks & Trails New York on Cycle the Erie Canal since its inception. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is the premier heritage sponsor of the event. Nine regional tourism agencies also sponsor the ride.

Parks & Trails New York is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space.