Remembering Dennis Miller

Long-time Trail Ambassador and Adopter Dennis Miller died in June. He leaves a legacy of trail stewardship and volunteerism, and will be remembered both by family and friends, and by those he touched on the Canalway Trail.

Beginning in 2010, Dennis, his friend Dave Ross, and Dave’s son Hunter served as Trail Ambassadors for the section of trail from Spencerport to Holley west of Rochester, riding regularly as the “Can-Ale” Cycling Club.

Dennis’ dedication to the Canalway Trail was not limited to being an Ambassador, however, as he adopted the Orleans County Line to Redman Road trail section in the Town of Sweden for many years through the Adopt-a-Trail program.

Dennis will also be remembered for the creative approach that the Can-Ale group used to connect with trail users. They held camp-outs several times each summer at the NYS Canal Corporation Boater/Biker/Hiker Campsite at the Holley Canal Port. According to Dave Ross, they met people from around the country and the world. “Last summer we met a through-cyclist from Boston, accompanied by his dog that rode in a specially-made trailer,” said Dave. “We had another chance meeting with a cyclist from Germany who was taking a bike trip around the world.”

Ambassadors

Off the trail, Dennis was a Mason and heavy equipment operator. In his retired life, he mowed the grass at Brockport Country Club.

He was a veteran of the Navy in Vietnam, and is survived by his Sister Marjorie Miller and Brother Rick Miller, along with many nieces and nephews.

You can find more information about the services held for Dennis Miller here.

Our condolences go out to Dennis’ family and friends. Dennis, the entire Canalway Trail community will miss you!

 

 

 

 

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More than 650 Cycle the Erie Canal

e28f97839e3b02cf6f7ad275a4338e38On July 9, more than 650 cyclists departed Buffalo for the 400-mile trek to Albany along the Erie Canalway Trail. The 19th annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour was Parks & Trails New York’s largest tour to date and coincided with the beginning of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Erie Canal.

With riders from 36 states and DC, two Canadian provinces, and Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom each Cycle the Erie Canal rider brought a unique level of familiarity of the Erie Canal to the tour. For more than three quarters of our riders, this was their first time participating in the Cycle the Erie Canal tour. Almost one in four, however, also rode during a previous year and felt compelled to return due to the unparalleled riding conditions and strong camaraderie you develop riding with hundreds of enthusiastic cyclists for eight days. Nonetheless, returners and new riders were treated to some new attractions, such as the recently completed Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron that offers trail users the unique opportunity to bike through an almost 200-year old lock.

Port Byron Lock

Whether it was a large welcome arch made out of balloons in downtown Fairport or free trailside popsicles in Memphis, Cycle the Erie Canal riders encountered the legendary hospitality for which the dozens of communities along the Erie Canalway Trail are famous. In addition to the strong community support, more than 90 volunteers ensured that everything, from meals to luggage transportation, were taken care of so the only thing cyclists worried about each morning was which jersey to wear that day. You can see pictures from this year and previous years on PTNY’s website.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 20th anniversary edition of the Cycle the Erie Canal tour, which will leave Buffalo on July 8, 2018 and arrive in Albany eight days later on July 15.

Blacksmiths forging bike racks for Erie Canal communities

The fires are burning and the anvils ringing in the blacksmith shop at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum throughout the summer. Blacksmiths are building sculptural bike racks that will be donated to local Erie Canal communities as part of a “Blacksmiths and Bicycles” project.

Blacksmiths group photo

“Blacksmiths and Bicycles” is a project between artist blacksmiths and local communities. “We asked local communities, Erie Canalway Trail cyclists, and visitors to the Erie Canal to tell us what the Erie Canal means to them and to draw pictures of things that remind them of the canal” says Mark Teece, the artist blacksmith who is leading this community art project. Then red-hot iron is bent, twisted, and hammered into these designs using centuries old technology with modern designs to produce beautiful public artwork that you can also lock your bike to! These intricate sculptures promote cycling along the Erie Canalway Trail and also encourage cyclists to pause for a while in canalside communities.

The designs range from canal boats and Sal, the friendly mule, to fish and birds found along the canal to sculptures submitted by local artists. “Building these modern bike racks in a canal-era working blacksmith shop alongside the Erie Canal with the familiar smells of burning coal fires and the sound of hammers on iron is a wonderful experience” explains Mark Teece.

Bike rack at CLCBM cropped

The project is funded by a grant from CNY Arts and sponsored by Chittenango Landing and the Erie Canal communities of Oneida, Canastota, and Chittenango.

You can find Mike Allen, the resident blacksmith, working every Thursday in the blacksmith shop at Chittenango Landing throughout the summer. During September blacksmiths will be working on these bike racks and they are always looking for more designs that can be shared with them on their Facebook or Instagram pages (@blacksmithsandbicycles).

You can find out more about this project and see more photos of their work at www.BlacksmithsAndBicycles.com and @blacksmithsandbicycles.

Summer Fun on the NYS Canal System

2017 marks the Erie Canal bicentennial! Celebrate one of the United States national treasures and attend one of the many events happening across New York State.

 

 

The World Canals Conference

 

September 24-28, 2017

This five day world class conference in Syracuse, NY will celebrate the bicentennial of the Erie Canal as well as hold discussions about the operation and maintenance of new and historic canals, canals within larger landscapes, environmental issues, economic and community revitalization, navigation, tourism, recreation, historic preservation and interpretation. This conference requires registration.

 

Tour the Towpath

September 23 & 24, 2017

The Tour the Towpath is a two-day, supported bike ride along the world famous Erie Canal! It begins in Rome, NY and follows the Old Erie Canal Towpath trail for 36 miles to DeWitt, NY with an option to bike to the Inner Harbor in

Syracuse (additional 10 miles). There are lots of organized and spontaneous things to discover along the way!

With one and two-day options, Tour the Towpath is a family friendly event and open to cyclists of all abilities. Riders will receive a map and guide to the many attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and historic sites that they can explore in the communities that the route encounters on the way from Rome to Syracuse. All participants end at the World Canal Conference Kick-off Celebration at the Inner Harbor in Syracuse. For more information go to www.tourthetowpath.com.


Locktoberfest 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9 AM to 5 PM

Visit Lockport for a family-friendly event that celebrate farms, food, crafts, and the community. There will be live music including Jamie Holka, The Bergholz German Band, Tom Keefer and Celtic Cross, and The Skiffle Minsterels. Locktoberfest is organized by Lockport Main Street. More information at locktoberfest.org or (716) 434-0212.

Hittin’ the Trail

2017 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Head to Utica

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation hit the trail to Utica for the annual “Bicyclists Bring Business: Canalway Trail Tourism for Your Downtown!” events. The evening program and community bike ride generated healthy discussion and excitement about how Utica, Oneida County, and the Mohawk Valley can further develop as cycling destinations.

This year’s events were sponsored by the City of Utica, Oneida County Tourism, Oneida County Health Department, and Utica Bike Rescue, Homegrown Bicycle Adventures, and Mohawk Valley GIS.

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The venue for Tuesday’s Evening Roundtable was thINCubator (326 Broad Street, Utica), a shared work space that demonstrates that innovation and creativity are alive and well. After light refreshments, the evening’s presentations provided an update Utica’s growing urban cycling network and future connections to the Empire State Trail, and some background on bicycle tourism on the Erie Canalway Trail. The heart of the program, as always, was robust discussion and a bringing together of various public agencies and resident groups around issues related to the bike/ped network.

All Attendees received a copy of the handbook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide to Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.

On Wednesday, as a follow-up to the presentation, staff from Utica Bike Rescue led a Community Bike-a-Round, a relaxed ride on Utica’s stretch of the Erie Canalway Trail and through several of Utica’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods.  Along the way, the group was able to see new recreational loop routes from the perspective of a cycling tourist. We’ll make stops to discuss connection to local points of interest and opportunities for improved infrastructure, programming, and promotion. After the ride, the group talked over what they saw over lunch at Aqua Vino.

Despite a great evening event and a

wonderful ride that reinforced Utica’s beauty, history, and great potential as a cycling destination, much work remains. However, all agreed that the enthusiasm generated and connections made at this week’s events will provide a boost to local efforts.

Media Coverage

Coverage of the evening event is available here, and bike around clips here.

Economic Impact of the Canalway Trail

According to a 2014 study, the Erie Canalway Trail experiences more than 1.58 million visits per year, and spending by ECT visitors generates approximately $253 million in annual economic impact. Oneida County’s 25 miles of existing Canalway Trail feature scenic views of the Mohawk River and connect the cities of Rome and Utica to the statewide trail network. With the County’s remaining gap section scheduled to be closed by 2020 as part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail vision, and the region’s unique combination of big-city amenities and access to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Adirondacks, Utica is well positioned to become a premier destination for cycling tourists and other recreationalists.

Bicyclists Bring Business, or B3, is presented in one Canalway Trail community each year by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation. Communities interested in hosting B3 should email b3roundtable@ptny.org.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the great event sponsors and partners in Utica that made this year’s event memorable and successful!

Share Your Thoughts on Canalway Tourism

Erie Canalway Visitor Survey
Please participate!

Have you visited New York’s canals, the Canalway Trail, historic or cultural sites or canal communities in the last few years?  Have you considered it, but didn’t? We need your help!

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is conducting an online survey to learn about your impressions of travel destinations within the canal corridor, and about the various ways that people find out about traveling here.

Please take a moment to participate and share your thoughts. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. Your answers will be aggregated and will not be linked to you personally, nor will you be asked to buy anything.

Thank you very much for helping us learn what’s important to you!

Survey link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3661565/Parks-Trails

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Great Flats Brewing: Serving Schenectady’s Bike Scene

Great Flats Brewing makes great beer, and as a meeting point for Schenectady’s growing cycling scene. And it’s all just blocks from the Canalway Trail!

Great Flats Brewing opened in March, 2017. Using ingredients grown in New York State, they serve fresh beer, cider, and wine.

Great Flats organized a clean up event as part of the 2017 Canal Clean Sweep, and they have recently become certified as a Bike Friendly New York business. “We like biking ourselves. Also, beer and biking go well together.”

Every Sunday,  Bike Old Dorp and Great Flats Brewing invite cyclists to go out for a night ride, and to join them for a beer afterwards.

Being close to the trail means lots of business. “It’s a big open space for people to hangout and rest, while drinking a beer or soda. It’s a great place to start a ride or take a break.”

Great Flats occupies a prime, trailside location in Schenectady – just blocks from the Erie Canalway Trail, know locally as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail. They are also a quarter mile from the Electric City Bike Rescue and three miles from Plaine and Son Bike Shop.

Check out their website for more information on their beer list and new flavor releases.