Today we rode 92 miles from Henrietta to Liverpool (which is Syracuse). It rained last night (again), cleared this morning (again), stayed cloudy for a most of the day (again). It was also very flat, and we mostly enjoyed a tailwind. So, perfect riding conditions…

We rode for some 20 miles along the Erie Canal. The canal has a bike path that runs from Rochester to Palmyra, and terrain varies from smooth pavement, to town streets, to hard packed dirt and gravel. The gravel was a bit rough and I got a pinch flat. That is my first flat tire since Twin Falls, Idaho some 2,300 miles ago. It’s probably bad luck to sound happy that way, as it is tempting the fates. The canal was OK, but it is a mucky green/brown color. And it was humid and overcast, and didn’t feel like the kind of place that I would say “hey, wish I lived on the canal.” But maybe it is prettier in fall, and maybe the flat tire soured my experience. Others in the group loved it.

As a part of American history, The Erie Canal is impressive: it travels about 363 miles from Albany (on the Hudson River) to Buffalo (at Lake Erie), thereby completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of approximately 565 ft. First proposed in 1807, it was under construction from 1817 to 1825. It was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard (New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the United States that did not require portage, was faster than carts pulled by draft animals, and cut transport costs by about 95%. The canal fostered a population surge in western New York State, opened regions farther west to settlement, and helped New York City become a chief U.S. port. It is the one of the most successful and influential human-built waterways, and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America. It no longer bears heavy commercial traffic, but there is still some activity beyond recreational boaters.

Traveling on the road was great. NY State bicycle route #5 runs 360+ miles from Niagara to the Massachusetts border, and while the road is busy, we had a wide, well paved, fairly clean shoulder most of the way. I thought motorists were great, but some felt that drivers are more rude here. I guess I’m being defensive as a New Yorker?

I rode most of the day with Polly, one of the women who I have most closely befriended on the trip. She left the ride after today, as her niece gets married in England this Saturday, and she could not miss the wedding. I am sure that we will stay in touch, but still kind of weird to be with someone for 7 weeks constantly and finish the ride together for 5 hours today, and then within 30 minutes she showered and drove away in a car with her husband. It certainly was a preview of what it will be like next Monday…

Erie Canal bike path

Erie Canal

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