Cyclists from 39 states, Canada, and Australia, are converging upon Buffalo today, in preparation for Sunday’s epic annual trek along the Erie Canal. Altogether, there will be over 650 cyclists participating in the ride – a 400-mile journey that will last eight days and nights.
This is the 21st year that this event has occurred. It is made possible thanks to a herculean effort to bridge Buffalo and NYC by building a giant bike trail, orchestrated by the statewide nonprofit Parks & Trails New York. The the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail project is now 80% complete, and is expected to wrap up in 2020.
A recent study shows that the Erie Canalway Trail annually receives close to 1.6 million visits and generates an economic impact of $253 million.
“The 21st annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour is a wonderful way to celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial. Plus, it’s fun, healthy, and good for the economy,” says Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “We have cyclists aged 5 to 86 from 39 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia and they all get to experience what makes the Erie Canal and upstate New York so special.”
Cycle the Erie Canal tour is a way for people get familiar with the historic heritage regions in NYS.
The cyclists will embark from Nichols School on Sunday. But before they leave, they are offered two regional pre-ride treks on Saturday – a tour through Buffalo, stopping at various attractions, or a ride to Niagara Falls via the Peace Bridge into Canada.
The NYS Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority are Premier State Sponsors of Cycle the Erie Canal. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is the event’s Heritage Sponsor and Brookfield is the Supporting Sponsor. Other sponsors include Wegmans, Hodgson Russ, and Capital District Physician’s Health Plan. Eleven regional tourism agencies also sponsor the ride.