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Orleans rolls out welcome mat to 700-plus cyclists

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2016 at 9:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – More than 700 cyclists passed through Orleans County on the 18th annual “Cycle the Erie Canal” ride. The 8-day trip started Sunday in Buffalo and ends 400 miles later in Albany.

The group started in Medina this morning and headed east to Rochester. The top photo shows cyclists looking over granola bars and other snacks and drinks provided for free by the Albion Merchants Association. many community members donated to the bounty to make the cyclists feel welcome on a hot day.

After riding about 10 miles this morning, cyclists take a break in Albion. Many of the riders ventured up down Main Street to visit some of the historical sites in Albion, including the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, which was open early for tours.

Mike Kennedy of Troy (pictured) is riding in the canal trek for the 14th time. About a third of the cyclists are repeat riders in Cycling the Erie Canal.

“I’m hooked,” Kennedy said about the annual trip. “After this many years I have a great many friends.”

Kennedy works as a sous chef for the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy. He said training for the annual cycling trip provides motivation to exercise.

Deborah Fortune of Troy was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. After fighting the disease for a year, “I decided to do things I always wanted to do.”

That included climbing the fire towers in the Adirondack and Catskills mountains. She decided to do the long canal ride. She is using the ambitious trip to also raise funds for Make-A-Wish. Click here to see her fund-raising page.

Patricia Fahy, a member of the State Assembly from Albany, is making the canal trip with her daughter Eileen Bequette. Fahy is also on Assembly committees for the environment and tourism. She is using the 400 mile-trip to experience the canal communities and brainstorm ways to better promote the canal and the communities along the historic waterway.

“This is a great way to learn about New York,” she said in Albion this morning.

Some of the cyclists stop in Albion for a break and also to take photos of the lift bridge and some of Albion’s historic downtown buildings.

It was a calm morning to be out riding along the canal.

This rider heads east in Albion.

After staying overnight in Medina, the cyclists rode to Rochester today. They stopped in Holley which is an official hospitality stop on the trip.

Holley had a sampling of baked goods, fruits, coffee, water and other snacks and beverages.

Greg Francese, assistant director of the ride for Parks and Trails (organizer of Cycling the Erie Canal), said the strong reception in the canal communities makes a big impression on the cyclists.

“it speaks to the generous spirit of the communities,” Francese said in Holley.

These cyclists cross the lift bridge in Holley after visiting Holley’s Canal Park.

These two cyclists met on Cycling the Erie Canal last year. They have become friends and they promote dancing each day on the canal.

Linda Ranslow of Pittsford, left, rode the bike trip last year for a big achievement the year she turned 60. Dennis Doyle of Camillus took the ride after retiring. They both said they wanted to meet new friends and ended up meeting each other the first day. They have stayed close ever since.

Ranslow is blogging about the bike ride. Click here to see her blog.