Every once in awhile I become pleasantly reminded about how fortunate I truly am. I have a wonderful family, live in a beautiful area, and I am able to be physically active and enjoy relatively good health. Both in 2014 and 2016, the annual Cycle the Erie Canal (CTEC) bike ride has helped me to further develop as a person through an incredibly well-organized event by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and their stellar consultant, Al Hastings.
Where I work, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, our goals are to preserve and share our extraordinary canal heritage, to promote the NYS Canal System and its adjacent amenities as a world-class destination, and to foster vibrant communities connected by our waterways. CTEC, through its many facets, allows us to pursue these goals with vigor and enthusiasm. That’s why we have been a long-time supporter and sponsor of CTEC. As a ride participant, I have had the extra benefit of humbly hearing the personal stories of many diverse human experiences – extraordinary people, fully engaged in their amazing journeys…
…A mourning husband whose wife just went into hospice, and who had not rode a bike in years, but who joyfully sang Jewish (and Bob Seger) songs with other riders all along the way.
…A near-perfect family of four adapting to the ride’s communal aspects, with the teenage son rather quickly ditching his bike after the first day or two, deciding instead to become part of the volunteer support team packing and unpacking the “tent city” each morning and evening.
…A state employee, on vacation, completely focused on accomplishing her very meaningful bucket list item.
…A father and his young daughter bonding through conversation from their separate bikes, both remarkably patient and exhibiting determined persistence, as they made their way on the trail at the back of the pack (often where the most interesting people tend to be).
These are just a tiny fraction of the thousands of stories that CTEC encourages and facilitates. Indeed, the ride can be life altering.
It is an honor and a privilege to take part in these rides. CTEC brings out the very best in people, as individuals and as a community. PTNY, the NYS Canal Corporation, and the numerous other people and organizations that make this ride possible each year, deserve our highest accolades and admiration for providing such an enriching opportunity.