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  1. #1
    Senior Member fast_track's Avatar
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    Erie Canal Tour: Buffalo to Albany NY (TRAIL PHOTOS)

    I just returned from a trip on the Erie Canal from Buffalo, NY to Albany, NY (our route was 432 miles). I went with my parents and a close family friend. It was a blast. Due to my fathers Arthritis we decided not to push our luck and force him to camp. This was hands down the longest journey my parents have ever taken on a bicycle. We CC tourer our way west to east across the canal and had lots of time to enjoy the sites, see a little history and ride at a very reasonable pace.

    I mostly wanted to share this post to let people see some of the sites along the way and to give some pictorial samples of what the canal trail its self looks like and it's surface. When I was planning our crossing I didn't find too many photos along the trail online so I thought I would share them for interested parties.

    We used a guide book we purchased from Parks and Trails New York that has been designed for use by thru cyclist. The book is called "Cycling the Erie Canal." Overall I give the book a B+ for it's information and mapping. It had a few route issues that were easily resolved by speaking with nice locals and google maps on my iphone.

    As a note: the book's route uses as much of the erie canal off the road path that exists as of today (mostly a reasonable crushed stone surface) There are sections of the canal where no trail exists. At these times the book directs you to reasonable roads, often using portions of NY State bike route 5.

    If you are going to do this trip I would highly suggest taking the optional trip down from Clyde to Watterloo and then east to Seneca Falls. From Seneca Falls you head north thru Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and back up to the canal route in the book (at this point it's route 31, part of State Bike route 5) This was hands down one of the best portions of the trip.

    Don't want to make this post too long so if anyone has specific questions about the trail, hotels, towns visited or whatever you can let me know. Otherwise check out a few of the links below:

    A sample of photos from the trip:
    http://gallery.me.com/ryanbenyi#100030

    Link to Parks & Trails New York Website about the Canalway Trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/canalway/

    Link to purchase the book we used as our guide for the trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/guidebook/index.shtml

  2. #2
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    Thank you for the intro to this route! My sister and I are thinking of doing this trip next year. I am completely new to touring and going anything more than a century ride. What are some of the stuff you need that are essential to this trip. Especially equipping your bike? I have a 85 Trek 400 Elance 700x23 tire, and I'm taking my time to get it ready for this trip. I suspect that the tire I have may not be suitable for the trip?! Any thoughts? Thank you for any great inputs and suggestions.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast_track View Post
    I just returned from a trip on the Erie Canal from Buffalo, NY to Albany, NY (our route was 432 miles). I went with my parents and a close family friend. It was a blast. Due to my fathers Arthritis we decided not to push our luck and force him to camp. This was hands down the longest journey my parents have ever taken on a bicycle. We CC tourer our way west to east across the canal and had lots of time to enjoy the sites, see a little history and ride at a very reasonable pace.

    I mostly wanted to share this post to let people see some of the sites along the way and to give some pictorial samples of what the canal trail its self looks like and it's surface. When I was planning our crossing I didn't find too many photos along the trail online so I thought I would share them for interested parties.

    We used a guide book we purchased from Parks and Trails New York that has been designed for use by thru cyclist. The book is called "Cycling the Erie Canal." Overall I give the book a B+ for it's information and mapping. It had a few route issues that were easily resolved by speaking with nice locals and google maps on my iphone.

    As a note: the book's route uses as much of the erie canal off the road path that exists as of today (mostly a reasonable crushed stone surface) There are sections of the canal where no trail exists. At these times the book directs you to reasonable roads, often using portions of NY State bike route 5.

    If you are going to do this trip I would highly suggest taking the optional trip down from Clyde to Watterloo and then east to Seneca Falls. From Seneca Falls you head north thru Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and back up to the canal route in the book (at this point it's route 31, part of State Bike route 5) This was hands down one of the best portions of the trip.

    Don't want to make this post too long so if anyone has specific questions about the trail, hotels, towns visited or whatever you can let me know. Otherwise check out a few of the links below:

    A sample of photos from the trip:
    http://gallery.me.com/ryanbenyi#100030

    Link to Parks & Trails New York Website about the Canalway Trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/canalway/

    Link to purchase the book we used as our guide for the trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/guidebook/index.shtml

    Hey, you have some fantastic shots there!

    My nine-year-old son and I have been doing the PTNY in segments, and just got back from our latest one. We have a journal at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=7519&v=24

    I'm amused about your comment about the side trip to Waterloo - as I mention in the blog, we did part of it, but totally unintentionally. ;-)

    - Rich

  4. #4
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    Hey, you have some fantastic shots there!

    My nine-year-old son and I have been doing the PTNY in segments, and just got back from our latest one. We have a journal at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=7519&v=24

    I'm amused about your comment about the side trip to Waterloo - as I mention in the blog, we did part of it, but totally unintentionally. ;-)

    - Rich
    Looks like you and your son had a lot of fun.That's what it is all about fun and taking your son is that much better great job. He will remember this for life time he spent with his dad.

  5. #5
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast_track View Post
    I just returned from a trip on the Erie Canal from Buffalo, NY to Albany, NY (our route was 432 miles). I went with my parents and a close family friend. It was a blast. Due to my fathers Arthritis we decided not to push our luck and force him to camp. This was hands down the longest journey my parents have ever taken on a bicycle. We CC tourer our way west to east across the canal and had lots of time to enjoy the sites, see a little history and ride at a very reasonable pace.

    I mostly wanted to share this post to let people see some of the sites along the way and to give some pictorial samples of what the canal trail its self looks like and it's surface. When I was planning our crossing I didn't find too many photos along the trail online so I thought I would share them for interested parties.

    We used a guide book we purchased from Parks and Trails New York that has been designed for use by thru cyclist. The book is called "Cycling the Erie Canal." Overall I give the book a B+ for it's information and mapping. It had a few route issues that were easily resolved by speaking with nice locals and google maps on my iphone.

    As a note: the book's route uses as much of the erie canal off the road path that exists as of today (mostly a reasonable crushed stone surface) There are sections of the canal where no trail exists. At these times the book directs you to reasonable roads, often using portions of NY State bike route 5.

    If you are going to do this trip I would highly suggest taking the optional trip down from Clyde to Watterloo and then east to Seneca Falls. From Seneca Falls you head north thru Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and back up to the canal route in the book (at this point it's route 31, part of State Bike route 5) This was hands down one of the best portions of the trip.

    Don't want to make this post too long so if anyone has specific questions about the trail, hotels, towns visited or whatever you can let me know. Otherwise check out a few of the links below:

    A sample of photos from the trip:
    http://gallery.me.com/ryanbenyi#100030

    Link to Parks & Trails New York Website about the Canalway Trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/canalway/

    Link to purchase the book we used as our guide for the trail:
    http://www.ptny.org/guidebook/index.shtml
    Nice pics bet you had a lot of fun I sure would have.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phocycle View Post
    Thank you for the intro to this route! My sister and I are thinking of doing this trip next year. I am completely new to touring and going anything more than a century ride. What are some of the stuff you need that are essential to this trip. Especially equipping your bike? I have a 85 Trek 400 Elance 700x23 tire, and I'm taking my time to get it ready for this trip. I suspect that the tire I have may not be suitable for the trip?! Any thoughts? Thank you for any great inputs and suggestions.

    There are sections of the PTNY route on which 23mm tires would make you very, very unhappy. :-) You might be able to get away with minimal slipping and sliding on the western-most portions of the stone dust trails, but some of the towpath east of Weedsport would eat you alive. In particular, the 36-mile path between Syracuse and Rome is currently being prepped for paving over several miles, and is covered with a very fine sand and dirt. It may or may not be completed by the time you ride, but it's something to think about. Also, the section of the towpath between Rome and Utica has a few miles that are more like easy doubletrack, which would be an issue when muddy.

    That being said, one of the beauties of the PTNY route is that there are many sections where you feel like you've gotten away from it all, but you're never more than a couple of miles from towns and civilization. You can do anything from a credit-card to full-on camping tour without any problems.

    There are a whole bunch of trip journals from people over on CrazyGuyOnABike. You might want to check them out for other ideas.

  7. #7
    Senior Member fast_track's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    Hey, you have some fantastic shots there!

    My nine-year-old son and I have been doing the PTNY in segments, and just got back from our latest one. We have a journal at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=7519&v=24

    I'm amused about your comment about the side trip to Waterloo - as I mention in the blog, we did part of it, but totally unintentionally. ;-)

    - Rich
    Rich- loved your travel journal. Sounds like you guys had a very nice trip. Hope you love your Lone Peak stuff as much as I do. Agree with your blog post that overall I thought PTNY chose some pretty nice roads for the "street" portions, often choosing NOT to use available sections of State Bike Route 5 for something more chill and with even less traffic. Jenkens road south from Cylde to Waterloo was heaven to us. Beautiful country side and SUPER quiet. Good luck finishing the whole Erie!

  8. #8
    Senior Member fast_track's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDC1956 View Post
    Looks like you and your son had a lot of fun.That's what it is all about fun and taking your son is that much better great job. He will remember this for life time he spent with his dad.
    It's funny because as a 33 year old guy, I loved taking this trip with my parents who are 60+. They have some orthopedic issues and my father also suffers from arthritis so the pace was much slower than I'm used to riding at. I would be leading and say, "Did you just see the hawk?" No one would respond and I would turn around and see a hundred yards btwn me and the folks. That said, I slowed down, enjoyed the pace and most importantly relished the time with family. The Erie is a very chill touring opportunity that you could easily take with children or a group of riders with mixed skills/experience. Doing a "family" tour was wonderful and will be a lasting memory for me for years to come. And if I failed to mention earlier is FLAT FLAT FLAT!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member fast_track's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phocycle View Post
    Thank you for the intro to this route! My sister and I are thinking of doing this trip next year. I am completely new to touring and going anything more than a century ride. What are some of the stuff you need that are essential to this trip. Especially equipping your bike? I have a 85 Trek 400 Elance 700x23 tire, and I'm taking my time to get it ready for this trip. I suspect that the tire I have may not be suitable for the trip?! Any thoughts? Thank you for any great inputs and suggestions.
    I agree with Mulveyr's above post. 23c tire would be a no go. The crushed stone is decent for the most part but with a load on the bike, plus rider weight, the 23's at 100-120 psi are going to jar you to the bone. Not to mention that the slightest bit of rain/water soften the trail surface enough to have made me rethink my 32's on our one slightly wet day on the toe path. In my opinion, a 32c tire or larger with some tread is the way to go for the most comfortable trip on the Erie canal. 85 psi on a wider tire is a blessing after 400+ miles mostly on crushed stone/stone dust. I'm not familiar with your bike (the 85 Trek Elance) but I would suggest the largest tire you can fit if it's basically a road frame. Not sure what clearance issues you may have at the fork crown or near the chain stays.

    You asked about essentials for the Erie trip. As also mention above by Mulveyr, you are never too far from a town. Unless it was deadly hot, I wouldn't feel obsessed with the idea of carrying more than 2 water bottles, maybe 3 if it's quite warm. Lost of places to stop and get drinks and food. Carrying light snacks is always a bonus, sometimes the town you want to eat in is a little further than you think! For me the most important things that I ended up using are some of the most basic. Tubes, tire boot kit, tire iron, good quality pump, metric allen key set, extra metric bolts incase you bust one, extra brake and derailleur cable if you know what to do with it, quality comfortable clothing that dries well, a bright front and rear light or reflective triangle for the rear of the bike, panniers or saddle bags to carry your load, and a quality rack. I didn't go nuts carrying tools serous bike tools and extra tires like you might when touring in more remote locations. The PTNY book listed a lot of bike shops locally and for the most part, they were close enough if you really got in a bind. My father badly bent one side of his front V-Brake (totally his fault-sorry dad!!) We found a LBS a 1/4 mile off the canal and bought a new set of V-Brakes for a decent price. Want to post the name and town of the shop if I can find it. Shop owner was SUPER nice and just a great guy. Hope this helps. Oh, we didn't camp. Camping stuff, that's a whole separate list. Lost of folks have some great list already available online with things you might forget. Overall, you can get away doing the Erie with a pretty basic inventory of affordable "support" gear that you should own anyway.
    Last edited by fast_track; 09-10-10 at 09:09 PM.

  10. #10
    Kip
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    Thanks for the photographs. I rode the canal from Rome to Rochester a couple of years ago and recognized some of the images. I used the PTNY book and found it helpful. Before I took the ride I read several books about the area including Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation by Peter L. Bernstein. This background information helped me appreciate what I was seeing.

  11. #11
    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    I have been thinking about taking the family on this trip next year. Looks like a great ride and thanks for sharing the pics.

  12. #12
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast_track View Post
    Rich- loved your travel journal. Sounds like you guys had a very nice trip. Hope you love your Lone Peak stuff as much as I do.
    I actually got the Lone Peak panniers just a week before we left; I had some cheap no-names that I had been using for my front panniers on earlier trip, but they kept popping off on bumps. The Lone Peaks would have been front panniers if we hadn't decided to go credit-card touring. In any case, they stayed on my Tubus Cargo rack like they were welded there - no movement at all.

    Anyhow - I'm very pleased with them. Spacious, and nothing got wet in the rain/30+MPH downpour we encountered in Utica. ( With the rain covers, at least ). I've found that the rain covers are a slight pain to affix completely, but not a big deal.

    I've also got a set of Ortlieb Bike Packers, but left those behind when I discovered I could fit all of the gear we needed into the Lone Peaks. I look forward to seeing if I can wear them out. ;-)

  13. #13
    Senior Member fast_track's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    I actually got the Lone Peak panniers just a week before we left; I had some cheap no-names that I had been using for my front panniers on earlier trip, but they kept popping off on bumps. The Lone Peaks would have been front panniers if we hadn't decided to go credit-card touring. In any case, they stayed on my Tubus Cargo rack like they were welded there - no movement at all.

    Anyhow - I'm very pleased with them. Spacious, and nothing got wet in the rain/30+MPH downpour we encountered in Utica. ( With the rain covers, at least ). I've found that the rain covers are a slight pain to affix completely, but not a big deal.

    I've also got a set of Ortlieb Bike Packers, but left those behind when I discovered I could fit all of the gear we needed into the Lone Peaks. I look forward to seeing if I can wear them out. ;-)
    I love mine as well. Very secure and light weight. Been very happy with my set. Happy Riding!!

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