Medina Journal-Register — The first leg of the Cycling the Erie Canal bike tour brought more than 500 riders through canal communities in Erie and Niagara County before reaching a “tent city” that grew outside of Wise Middle School.
The annual bike tour brings a caravan of cyclists from Buffalo to Albany over eight-days of riding and stops for nourishment and educational recreation. Sunday’s 47-mile leg began in the Queen City but included stops for riders to grab a bite to eat and learn about local history.
The first day’s travel brought riders to the Amherst Museum, on a tour of the canal in Lockport and a trip to the Medina Railroad Museum in addition to the peaceful towpath trail.
“It’s a thrill to meet people from across the country who wanted to see the Erie Canal,” Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Executive Director Beth Sciumeca said. “The focus is to see historical sites and towns.”
The chance to see the canal brought in many riders from outside of the region. More than half the riders who reached Medina hailed from outside of New York. New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton, who joined riders for the first leg, said the pack had representatives from 35 states and a half-dozen countries.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Stratton said. “People come from around the world because of the legend of the Erie Canal.”
At the encampment surrounding the school, many riders said they were impressed by the communities and sights they saw on their first day’s ride.
Barbara Kunzi said she had only been west of Utica while driving on the Thruway, but was taken by the agricultural and historic vistas.
“I’ve never been here before,” Kunzi said while making her way between the tents of people she met on the tour. “It’s amazing and beautiful. I love the agricultural and historic areas.”