Erie Canal Bike Tour
Rachmiel Langer

Saturday August 30, 1997   •   Newark to Weedsport

After packing, we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I ordered a Western omelet without the ham. Somehow, the chef decided that leaving out the ham meant he should put in bacon instead! Finally, I got an omelet with no pork.

As we checked out, the attendant told us that by next year there would be continuous usable towpath for the entire length of the Erie Canal. Apparently, state or federal funding has been authorized to develop the entire towpath. I'm skeptical of the completion date, but I'd love to ride the entire canal under those conditions. Riding along the towpath for the last two days was extraordinary!

Wayne County EC Trail
We had a little trouble finding our way out of Newark, but we reached the canal towpath by 11:30 a.m. We attempted the Wayne County EC Heritage Trail in Lyons, but it was rough grass with sections of mud. After only a short distance, we decided we had enough and got off onto a cross-road. By the time we cleaned the mud from our tires and brakes and figured an alternate route, it was 12:30 — one hour to go seven-tenths of a mile!

Since we stuck to roads after that, our pace was better. The shoulders were good and there were a few small hills. We followed Harvey's Seneca Falls Bypass route, continuing to head east, staying near the old Erie Canal. In Savannah, we stopped for a picnic lunch at the town memorial. There seemed to be a bit of traffic to nowhere as people cruised past us to gape. Throughout the day, we met many friendly and curious people. The standard response from children was, "I want one", and from adults, "That looks comfortable."

Rachmiel on Grass Towpath
Later, we stopped in Port Byron at the Erie Canal Trail park. There was a sign with a map showing various historical sights in Port Byron and interesting facts. For example, a shoemaker, Henry Wells, lived there and delivered packages on the Erie Canal. Eventually he joined with a friend from nearby Weedsport and they founded Wells-Fargo Express.

The start of the towpath in the park was mowed grass, but within 100 yards it degraded into unmown grass singletrack strewn with branches. We backtracked and outlined another alternate route, along old Rte. 31 and new 31. Again, the drivers were generally safe and courteous. There must have been a motorcycle rally nearby because we passed lots of bikers. They seemed interested — many stared and one group waved. I expect they saw us as fellow road-wanderers riding hogs without motors. Above-seat-steering would probably have clinched it.

We arrived at the Best Western in Weedsport by 4:30 p.m. The hotel was rather expensive for a motel with few facilities. We ate at the nearby Old Erie restaurant which has a laundromat in the same building. The food was commendable (blackened swordfish), but there was a limited choice avoiding steaks or heavy sauces. The laundry was well-needed.
Mileage Hours MPH
Cycled today 40 3:29 11.5

 Copyright © 1997, Rachmiel Langer

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