cycling · fitness

15 kilometers on the Erie Canal

Last weekend Sarah and I helped Jeff get his boat, Escapade, up the Welland Canal, through a series of somewhat intimidating locks. See here for photos and details.

This weekend we got to reap the benefits of our hard work visiting Jeff and Escapade on the Erie Canal. It’s my fave place so far we’ve done the “bikes and boats” thing. And I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in bikepacking. In the area we were in, Gasport NY to Knowlesville NY–the towns were spaced about 7 km apart. They also seemed very keen on visiting cyclists, offering up free camping and wifi, hot showers, etc.

I’m still getting back to outdoor riding after knee surgery and managed 15 km Saturday and 15 km Sunday but more importantly, it felt so good to be out there.

We saw a lot of different styles of cyclists, from people with gravel bikes fully kitted out with sleek rain proof bikepacking gear to groups people with hybrid bikes with milk cartons attached to their rear rack and tents wrapped in garbage bags. We also saw some young old order Mennonite women riding in long dresses and bonnets.

Definitely we had it the easiest since we didn’t have to carry our accommodation on the bike. For reasons of fuel efficiency Jeff runs the boat at a speed slower than we ride and he also had to wait for some bridges to open, so we usually got to the next town first.

Here’s a great shot of Jeff and Escapade motoring alongside Sarah and me riding our bikes.

Sarah and Sam on the path, Escapade in the canal

Here’s a guide to camping on the Erie Canal.

If you want to try biking and boating but you don’t own a boat, you can also rent a canal boat.

Since I’m riding more slowly these days we also stopped to take lots of photos!

Here’s Day 1: Gasport to Middleport (8.5 km) and then a coffee break before Middleport to Medina (7.25 km).

After I posted that we’d ridden 15 km on the Erie Canal pathway, our friend Alex sent us this video.

Erie Canal song on YouTube

Day Two: Medina to Knowlesville return 15 km

Sunday morning bike ride

Here is a description from the New York Times of the canalside bike paths,

“Dotted with canalside towns that tell a rich and often strange history of the westward expansion of America, the Erie Canalway Trail, a 360-mile bike path connecting Buffalo to Albany, is a route to savor. One endurance cyclist I spoke with made it from end to end in just over 31 hours (stopping only to stretch, eat and fix a flat), which is impressive. But racing through this trail defeats its purpose.

The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, not only opened up the nation to commerce, it also was a kind of psychic highway that attracted a steady stream of 19th-century freethinkers: Abolitionists, Mormons, Spiritualists, Adventists and suffragists can all trace their roots to this fertile vein of New York State.

The towns along the path, which is much more established than its north/south counterpart, can hardly be glimpsed from the interstate and are very welcoming to cyclists.”

We’re looking forward to riding a different section of the trail next year. 10/10 recommend.