BUFFALO, N.Y. — More than 650 cyclists will ride along the Erie Canalway Trail between Buffalo and Albany for the 21st annual Cycle the Erie Canal Tour. Families, couples and singles from 5-years-old to 82-years-old will ride 400 miles in eight days.
"It's not really something you can see by car. Yes, there's the main street, but the Erie Canal... The trail really does connect each town along the way," said Jonathan Duda, the assistant tour director.
The travelers are encouraged to explore each town they pass through as they bike about 50 miles, around four hours, a day.
"Go in, find a restaurant, find a pub, see what this town has to offer," Duda said. His goal is to check out each town along the ride this year.
He said one of the goals of the tour is to bring people to Upstate New York to observe all the place has to offer. People from 39 states including Alaska, Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia have brought their bikes this year. Howard and Vicki Andress came from Michigan to explore the canal for the first time.
"The scenic routes, the historical sites, the comradery of meeting new people - it's a great way to travel," said Howard.
"We've already met a lot of really nice people. Everybody's really excited. You've got to love the good mood," Vicki said.
A volunteer says people come to the ride strangers, but leave friends.
"You meet people from all over, and everybody's like one big family."
Duda said that actually has happened.
"The first time I rode, there was a big group of singles. Two of them met and wound up next year getting married, and they're back again this year, riding for the first time as a married couple," Duda said.
The trail is expected to become part of the 750 mile Empire State Trail by 2020. It is about 80% completed. The Erie Canalway Trail receives about 1.6 million visits and generates an economic impact of about $253 million.