The Erie Canal was created to connect people with goods to people that needed them. Today, Cycle the Erie Canal continues to connect people.
While the Empire State Trail was under construction, Jim E. was working out on the trail, checking traffic signals, lights and crossings, when one day he saw a large group of bikers pedaling across the state. Wondering what was going on, he did a random Google search and discovered the Cycle The Erie Canal bike tour. He’d never been a bicyclist, but he’d coached sports and he thought why not take a challenge the next year?
Many miles away, Amy L. was starting to think about how she could plan a way to spend a week riding along the Canalway Trail. Ever since she was a little kid Amy had loved being outdoors, especially riding her bike. She thought a trip on the trail sounded like the perfect vacation, but the complicating details of life made that idea little more than a dream. Until suddenly, everything fell into place. As Amy said, “the timing was too perfect, it was too right, hard to understand. Something magical was happening”.
Jim and Amy met briefly the very first day of Cycle the Erie Canal 2022. Jim wasn’t certain about what to expect not knowing anyone. His plan was to concentrate on making his own way across the state. Amy was excited about the “fairly flat” outdoor adventure and was looking forward to meeting people. Their tents happened to be pitched near each other. Jim said “hi” first.
The first few days they rode separately. Jim said he’d seen most of New York State which is beautiful, but to see it on a bike is truly special. “I grew up near water, so to be able to ride right next to the canal and watch the boats going by was like magic. I rode every day with a smile on my face, a big, gigantic smile.” Amy loved the history and the little towns.
But the Canalway Trail kept creating new daily opportunities for them to see each other. “He’s six-foot-five. You can’t miss him” Amy laughed. By the time they reached the halfway mark in Camillus they were riding side by side every day. They discovered that they had been put together in a setting that they both loved, and since then, their bond has developed into long-distance relationship. As Jim said, “it truly was lifechanging experience, in many ways.” In honor of their one-year anniversary, this year they’ve signed up for the Cycle The Hudson Valley, and then some. Amy said, “If I’m doing CTEC, then someday I’m gonna ride North to South.” The couple is planning to meet in Rouses Point at the northern end of the Empire State Trail and use PTNY’s Cycling the Hudson and Champlain Valleys Guidebook to meet up with the start of CTHV in Albany.
What advice do they offer to others planning to ride the Erie Canal? “Keep your eyes open” says Jim. “Take the time to explore the history, there’s so much to see along the way.” Amy adds “Go in open minded; be willing to get out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to connect with people. Start with hello.”
One thought on “When Jim Met Amy: A Cycle the Erie Canal Love Story”
I completed the CTEC last year myself. While I missed these two cyclists, I met many wonderful other cyclists, five of whom I still stay in touch with. I, and one of the five, also signed up for the CTHV tour. So looking forward to it.