The Erie Canal is a 363 mile long, man-made waterway that runs from Buffalo to Albany. There is a bike trail that runs alongside it for the entire length; we hopped on it in Lockport and rode it for 75 miles into Fairport today.
The trail alternates surfaces between pavement and crushed limestone. The paved sections are faster, but are also riddled with cracks and bumps from tree roots growing underneath. The limestone slows you down a little bit, but it is much smoother than the average gravel road. The only real downside to the limestone is the clouds of dust that cover you and your bike in a fine, light grey film.
After having to navigate the madness that was Niagara Falls yesterday, it was a nice mental break to ride along one single, straight path all day. We had no complicated directions and no impatient drivers to deal with. Every ten or so miles, the canal runs through a town where you have the option to cross a bridge and go fill up on water or buy food.
Around midday, I ran into another bike tourer riding west on the trail. He told me his name was Mark and that he was headed to Bar Harbor. I gave him my name and told him he was going the wrong way. Apparently he had dropped one of his biking gloves and was pedaling back to get it. His wife Judy, he said, was waiting for him further down the trail. I ran into Judy about a mile later and we exchanged our stories. She and Mark started riding from Lander, Wyoming and have the same final destination as us. Lander was one of the towns we stayed in during my cross-county trip in 2015. I even have a sticker on my bike from Gannet Peak, their local bike shop! During Mark and Judy’s ride, which is called “Craw4Awareness,” they are promoting PTSD awareness in veteran and first responder communities. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram at “Craw4Awareness.”
Today was another hot one, with temperatures around 90 and little shade to be found along the canal. By the time we reached Fairport, we were sweaty and tired very glad to have a place to stay here. My girlfriend’s aunt and uncle, Barb and Dave, heard about our trip and reached out to offer their house for tonight. We were able to shower, do laundry, scrub the limestone dust off our drive trains, and sit down for a wonderful meal with our wonderful hosts. Thanks Barb and Dave!