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Old 09-12-06, 09:11 AM   #1
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Erie Canal Trip

I am in the process of starting a Erie Canal Touring trip in June. I grew up just outside of Rochester, NY, but never was able to do the Erie Canal. If there is anyone that has had experience on the trip, let me know. I would love any helpful hints possible.
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Old 09-24-06, 12:24 AM   #2
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Park & Trails New York does a yearly tour and publishes Cycling The Erie Canal Guidebook
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Old 09-27-06, 07:58 AM   #3
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Erie Canal

I've biked the Erie Canal last summer as part of the 8 day tour with New York Parks & Trails. And in 2004 I was did Lockport to Palmyra as part of Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier (self-supported).

Currently the Erie Canal bike way is about 60% complete (the other 40% is on adjacent roads). They plan to be 100% in 2008 or 2009.

Most of the treadway is packed stone dust. Narrow road bike tires are not recommended, but I did it OK with 25mm wide tires.

My daughter found the towpath to be boring, so she opted to ride Bike Route #5. This route parrallels the towpath on adjacent roads. (maps available from NYS DOT).

There's a lot of history along the way. The New York Park & Trails ride includes stops at many of the historic sights, as well as evening programs focused on canal history. It's a well organized and well run ride, managed by Al Hastings (In-motion events). The price includes tenting at high schools and colleges along the way, and breakfast and dinner most days, as well as a morning and afternoon rest stop each day. Their shuttle from Albany to Buffalo is a great way to get started. No worry about how to get back to your car at the end of the tour. And it leaves the boring turnpike driving to someone else. We enjoyed the tour.

What else would you like to know?
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Old 06-09-09, 07:18 AM   #4
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I have the chance

I have the chance to live close to the canal(Penfield). It is wonderful to bike and admire nature.
I posted photos of the ride from macedon to Pittsford on my site:

I also wrote about the history of the canal and published old pictures.
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Old 06-10-09, 09:18 AM   #5
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I am leaving home, east of Toronto on Friday June 12 and will be in Niagara Falls Ontario Saturday June 13. On Sunday I am crossing the border and picking up the Erie Canal at Lockport. I will be riding the Erie Canal/NY Bike Route 5 to Albany and then north along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain to Montreal. From Montreal I will be riding home using the Waterfront Trail.
I have ridden a section around Rochester and Tonawanda previously and enjoyed it so much that I decided this year to ride the whole canal.
Do you have an itinerary yet? What kind of bicycle do you ride? I usually will recognize a bike before I will notice who is ridding it.
I am planning on camping with the odd hostel.
Perhaps our paths will cross enroute.
Happy Touring!
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Old 06-10-09, 11:40 AM   #6
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Please post a trip report when you are done with this ride. I've ridden sections near Albany that were terribly boring, and then I've ridden sections near Rochester that were much more enjoyable. Both rides were about ten years ago or more, so I'd love to know if this is worth revisiting now.
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Old 09-08-11, 06:45 PM   #7
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I will be making the trip from Albany to Buffalo this fall. I have a Trek 1500. I have biked the part of the trail in Albany and it's paved and fine for 25mm road bike tires. I was concerned about the stone dust portion of the trail. I was deciding weather to get Kevlar liners, or to get some knobby tires.

My concerns with the options are:
Kevlar; will I be slipping on the trail with the 25mm road bike tires?
Knobby Tires; Sacrificing speed. Anyone have an idea how much knobby tires I'd need would slow you down?

Anyone have any helpful advice?
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Old 09-08-11, 10:12 PM   #8
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No need for knobbies. Lots of the trail is speed-limited anyways, so there really isn't much chance to get up to a "dangerous" speed, and the knobs don't really do that much anyways. If you can go 700x28 instead though, that might be worth it. I grew up in/around Syracuse and rode 700x23's on it all the time with no issues. Then again, you typically creep along because there are so many people (joggers, strollers, etc... it's one of very few MUPs in the area), at least through the eastern suburbs.

As a side note, how do they route you through Syracuse itself? The canal has been filled in there, and there is no MUP or path, just busy city streets, mostly without bike lanes. There's a busy 6 lane boulevard over the old canal route, and it's the worst road I have ever had to ride on (used to work at a store on it), if that's the plan, I'd try something else.
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Old 09-09-11, 07:07 AM   #9
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I went to school near Rochester in the 70s, and regularly rode on the tow path with tubulars, which was all I had on my one all-purpose touring/racing bike. No issues with excessive flatting or slippage that I can remember.
It was a lot more fun to XC ski on the path (or on the canal itself when it was cold & snowy enough) than to ride on it. Other than some cool old industrial buildings and wildflowers, I don't remember it having much that was interesting to look at. And of course it is flat as a board. Very nice, though, not to be dealing with cars while riding.

I'd love to hear how your trip turns out.
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Old 09-09-11, 04:59 PM   #10
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I did the Fayetteville to Rome and back section a few weeks back, on 32's with small knobs. I liked the knobs for the crushed limestone but there are a lot of sections of the trail that are paved road. I don't know the official route thru Syracuse, but I can give input if you find it. Wouldn't do Erie Blvd but there are several roads that run parallel that I ride all the time. Shouldn't be a show stopper. 298 to Burnet gets you through most of the city, and its bike friendly. ish
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Old 09-25-11, 07:33 AM   #11
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Probably goes without saying, but there are a number of useful journals about this ride on the Crazy Guy on a Bike site.

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Old 09-27-11, 06:36 PM   #12
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I rode with my family and another family last summer from Buffalo to Pittsford NY. The section between Spencerport and Lockport (from east to west) if wet can be soft and muddy. Regular tires may be tough. I rode my road bike on a different ride without problem in dry conditions, but was thankful for my hybrid for the real trip when it was wet and the ground a bit soft.
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Old 10-04-11, 02:23 PM   #13
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In Syracuse, avoid Erie east or west. I believe the book says to take Milton off the end of the Camillus section, which is the lesser of the evils I guess. From Milton Erie west is an industrial section, not bad, and leads to 298 via Hiawatha->Spencer. I would agree that 298 thru the north side might be the least bad way thru town. Then maybe Kinne to 290 or Kinne - Bridge - Widewaters - Towpath.

I live in Dewitt and use 27" Kenda k161 knobbies or 26" michelin wildgripper sprints on the canal.
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