Canal cyclists enjoy a rest in Fairport

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Monday, July 9, 2018 - 4:16pm

Pete Jank has completed five or six week-long cycling rides in his lifetime, but he has always wanted to do the New York Parks and Trails Cycle the Erie Canal.

Monday the 68-year-old Granger, Indiana, resident couldn’t be happier resting in Fairport after two days of cycling on the Erie Canal.

“This ride is a little different,” he said. “Lots of gravel, but it is away from traffic and the homes and locks on the canal are just beautiful.”

Jank’s traveling partner, Ed Schultz, 68, is also enjoying the view.

“When you take a trip like this the weather is the weather,’’ Schultz said. “The weather so far has been perfect.”

About 730 people, 650 of them cyclists, are spending the night in tents at Minerva DeLand School Monday, before heading out on the third leg of the journey to Seneca Falls Tuesday. The trip started Sunday in Buffalo, with the tour spending the night in Medina. Monday morning they headed to Fairport.

“In Albion we had our own cheering section,’’ Jank said, who along with Schultz will be staying in a hotel Monday. “Residents came out and lined the canal just for us.”

The Cycle the Eric Canal is in its 20th year and this year the 400-mile journey helps celebrate the 200th anniversary of the canal. The journey ends July 15 in Albany.

"I just want to thank Fairport (Schools) Superintendent Brett Provenzano for leading the way for the town and village to get this together so quickly," Perinton Supervisor Michael Barker said. "He made sure the school property would be available. Things like this are what make our community great."

The cyclists complete between 40-60 miles a day along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now 80 percent complete and will, by 2020, be completed as part of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Tents covered the grass at Minerva DeLand Monday with cyclists settling in for the night. At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, participants get a briefing on weather and rest stops and then head out.

“People get up when they want and get with who they want and leave when they want,’’ New York’s Park and Trials Co-ride director Al Hastings said. “We encourage them all to visit the museums and other stuff along the way.”

Tuesday’s fourth leg takes riders to Seneca Falls. Wednesday is Seneca Falls to Syracuse; Thursday is Syracuse to Rome; Friday is Rome to Canajoharie; Saturday is Canajoharie to Niskayuna and the trip wraps up Sunday when cyclists pedal from Niskayuna to Albany.