Frequently Asked Questions
What is Cycling the Erie Canal?
Cycling the Erie Canal is an eight-day 400-mile fully supported recreational
bicycle tour from Buffalo to Albany along the historic and scenic Erie
Canal. Nearly three-quarters of the ride is on the traffic-free off-road Canalway Trail.
When is the tour?
The 2013 tour starts on Sunday, July 7, in Buffalo and finishes on Sunday,
July 14 in Albany. Because the tour starts at 8:00 am on Sunday, people
should arrive on Saturday, July 6. Saturday highlights include registration,
pre-tour rides, kick-off reception and dinner that evening.
Who organizes Cycling the Erie Canal?
Cycling the Erie Canal is organized by Parks & Trails New York,
a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting
our parks and creating new kinds of parks such as greenways and rail
and canal trails. Parks & Trails New York organizes this bicycle
tour to promote the Canalway Trail, the historic Erie Canal corridor
and economic development through bicycle tourism. Funds raised will
help support Parks & Trails New York's trail programs, including
its work on the Canalway Trail.
What's included in the tour?
- Wonderful scenic ride - nearly two-thirds on off-road Canalway Trail, the rest on rural roads
- Camping accommodations every evening with showers and toilet facilities.
Some campsites feature pools or lakes for swimming.
- Eight hearty breakfasts and six delicious dinners
- Two refreshment stops daily stocked with fruit, snacks and beverages
- Entertainment and historical presentations each evening
- Guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums, and other attractions,
including the Women's Rights National Historic Site, Erie Canal Museum
and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through
- Kick-off reception and festivities and end-of-tour gala celebration
- Cycling the Erie Canal T-shirt
- Baggage transport to and from tent city
- Sag wagon and mobile mechanical support
- Daily maps and cue sheets
- Painted and arrowed routes
- Small town rural charm and warmth of Upstate New York
- Additional services (fee)- fresh daily towels, gourmet coffee
each morning, tent and air mattress rental and setup, etc.
- Massage available each evening (fee)
How much does the trip cost?
- EIGHT DAY CYCLIST:
- $650 for adults - current Parks & Trails New
York members as of 01/01/13 can call PTNY at 518-434-1583 for special discount
- $325 for children 5-17 years old, who must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
- $125 for children under 5, who must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
- TWO-DAY WEEKEND CYCLIST:
- $250 for adults
- $125 for children 5-17 years old, who must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
- $45 for children under 5, who must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian
- EIGHT DAY DRIVER:
- TWO-DAY DRIVER:
- Adult registration for full tour increases June 1, 2013 to
- You will need money for lunches, and two dinners. You
should also bring extra money if you would like to make any purchases
along the way (souvenirs, etc.) and in the event that bicycle parts are needed.
Can I make a deposit and pay in full
later for the tour?
No, payment for the tour must be in full.
Can I pay by credit card?
Yes. You can pay by VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER or AMERICAN EXPRESS.
Can I get my money back if I can't make
Refunds less a $65 processing fee will be issued with a written cancellation request received by June 22, 2013. After that ONLY credits for future tours will be issued, less a $65 processing fee, with a written request if received by 7/5/13. NO CHANGES OR REFUNDS FOR DORMS, SHUTTLE OR JERSEYS AFTER 6/22/13.
Is there a waiting list to sign-up?
When the ride is full, a waiting list will be started. Each person that
would like to be placed on the waiting list must provide a registration
form and pay the full fee. You will be informed when you are registered.
Each person on the waiting list must be available to do the ride. If
you are on the waiting list and are unable to join the ride, we will
return your check.
When is the ride registration day?
Registration will be just before the kick-off reception and dinner on
Saturday, July 6 from 2 - 7 pm. Please come to the registration area
and drop off your bicycle and bags before returning rental vehicles
or taking your car to long-term parking.
For those unable to make it to the festivities on Saturday there will
be an hour available for registration on Sunday, July 7 from 6:30 -
Are children allowed?
We love kids! Because of the relatively flat terrain and so much trail riding, Cycling the Erie
Canal is a very family-friendly ride. Old and young are welcome to join
us on the canal tour, as long as they can reliably ride or be towed
behind a bicycle for an average 50 miles a day. Please consider your
child's ability to bicycle this distance daily. We will provide sag
wagon rides to the day's endpoint for physical or mechanical break-down,
but not on a daily basis. Since children under 18 must be accompanied
by a parent or adult guardian at all times, if the child is too tired
to continue bicycling, that will end the day of touring for the guardian
too. Sorry, tour staff are not available to provide babysitting services.
Does Cycling the Erie Canal allow child
carriers, tandems or trailers?
How many miles does the tour average?
50 miles per day.
An average of 50 miles a day seems like
You can bicycle 50 miles in five hours or less of actual biking, leaving
plenty of time for sight-seeing and visiting historic sites. Sag wagon
rides are available for physical and mechanical breakdowns.
50 miles a day doesn't seem like much!
Cycling the Erie Canal is a different kind of bicycle tour, designed
for relaxation, learning about the history of the Erie Canal and just
plain FUN! Ride at a leisurely pace, take time to see the sights, and
finish the week rested. If you really want more miles than the 400 miles
this week provides, optional rides will be available during the week.
What sort of terrain will we ride on?
The Canalway Trail, built along the historic right-of-way of the Erie
Canal, has a very gentle to flat grade. We will be riding on the Canalway
Trail as much as possible, which is nearly two-thirds the ride. The other part of the ride will be on rural roads with good shoulders. Several
days in the Finger Lakes have a few rolling hills and there are two
long gradual climbs in the Mohawk Valley.
Where do we stay?
Cycling the Erie Canal is a camping tour. Each night, as your trip winds
down for the day, you'll set up camp at the official campsite. Trucks
will transport all of your baggage each morning to that evening's campsite.
Camptel service provided by Comfy Campers, which provides rental of tents and air mattresses, camp chairs and clean towels (fee includes setup and break down). For more information, or to reserve a tent, visit the Comfy Camper website.
What are the campgrounds like?
Each night's campground will have a Hospitality Tent where riders can
get information about the town and tours available and the next day's
routes and tours. There will be a tent providing medical services and
massage services (for a fee). Most Tent Cities will be located
on school or college grounds. Many will have swimming pools available
to riders. Restrooms and showers will be provided each night. Supplemental
port-a-johns will be provided where needed. Alternative shelter will
be available in the event of an emergency (e.g. high winds, electrical
Will my luggage and bicycle be safe?
Thefts of baggage or bicycles are extremely rare. The usual culprit
is someone who mistakenly picks up a bag thinking it is his or hers.
Your bags should be distinctively painted or decorated with ribbons
so you can find them easily. All bags must have name tags. We urge you
to lock your bicycle when you are not riding it. Cycling the Erie Canal
does not guarantee the safety of your baggage, bicycle, or other equipment.
What do we do during the day?
Each morning, a truck will be waiting for your luggage. You are then
free to travel the established route, riding at your own pace, stopping
along the way to admire the attractions, and arriving when you wish.
Parents and minors participating together are required to stay together
during the day's ride. Along the way you'll find smiling faces with
snacks, drinks, support, and repair vehicles to take care of all your
Where do we eat?
At the beginning and end of each day's ride, Cycling the Erie Canal
and the host communities will provide a delicious and nutritious meal
except for two evenings when you will be able to enjoy the local eateries.
Vegetarian meal options will be available. Rest stop with snacks and
drinks will be provided twice daily. Lunch is on your own.
Will there be a non-meat meal option?
Yes, non-meat meal options will be provided for the breakfasts and dinners
that Cycling the Erie Canal provides. Lunch is on your own.
What will we eat?
Breakfasts: You can expect an assortment of scrambled eggs, bacon and/or sausage, juice, coffee, cereals, toast, fruit, bagels, and pancakes/French toast/waffles - which will vary slightly from location to location.
Rest stops: There are two rest stops each day, an AM and PM. The rest stops are stocked with fresh fruit, crackers, snack food, water and Gatorade.
Dinner: Standard fare is chicken, rice, pasta, veggies, etc. - there has always been a wide variety of food items served. In Canajoharie participants are treated to a Brooks Brothers BBQ that features ribs, chicken, corn, and various sides. A listing of restaurants is available at each night's tent city at the information booth, which is staffed by local volunteers who will be able to make recommendations and give directions. You may find the location of each night’s city listed in our rider handbook.
Dinner on your own nights: A shuttle in Seneca Falls will bring folks around the village and to Waterloo for restaurants. In Rome there are many restaurants nearby.
Lunch is on your own each day.
Non-meat option: In many cases separate food items have been prepared for those participants who selected the non-meat option on their registration. You may be asked to display the non-meat option wristband given to you at registration.
A note to those with allergies: Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate riders with very specific dietary needs with nearly 600 folks on the tour, it is difficult to meet the wide variety of dietary needs of each and every person.
What will I need to bring for the tour?
A multi-geared, better quality bicycle with tires in excellent condition
will make the tour much more enjoyable. We highly recommend using a
hybrid bike. A second choice would be a mountain bike with non-aggressive tires
for on-road travel. Riders have also used road bikes with wide tires
(at least 25mm). We have found that older tires cause many tire repair
problems. If in doubt, we recommend getting new tires for the ride. You must have a helmet - you won't be allowed on the ride without
one. You'll need a small tent and other basic camping gear, sleeping
bag, etc. Bring proper clothing for all weather conditions. Everything
you take should fit into one large or two small bags that combined weigh
less than 50 pounds. An odometer on your bike will be helpful, as all
route directions use mileage. For more information, see Preparing
for the Ride.
Much of the tour is on 'compact stone surface' - is
it suitable for road bikes?
Many thanks to past riders whose feedback helps us address this concern.
We recommend hybrid bikes because of their comfort and versatility. Riders
need to keep in mind that they will be riding 40-65 miles a day and should
choose a bike set-up that is comfortable. Each year we have a number of
participants on the tour who choose to take their road bikes. If you do
ride your road bike, we would suggest the widest Kevlar belted tires the
frame will accommodate, to prevent flats. The ride is not designed to
be done on a road bike designed for speed. Cycling the Erie Canal is not a race. There are a number
of stops along the way, so take your time. You will be traveling through
one of the most historic and beautiful routes in New York State!
How many bags can I bring?
Everything you take should fit into one large or two small bags that, MUST weigh less than 50 pounds. As a general rule: think about the airport baggage carousel. If you can't handle the bag on your own, consider how difficult it will be for a volunteer to do it.
How do I get to the ride?
We have provided a listing of Transportation
Options for riders getting to Buffalo and from Albany.
& Trails New York provide transportation to the start of the ride -- Buffalo?
We are offering a shuttle from Albany to Buffalo on Saturday, July 6 for
you and your bike (see Transportation
Options) for an additional fee of $85. The shuttle will depart
from Albany at 10 a.m. and will stop for lunch, with an approximate
arrival time of 4 p.m. at the Buffalo Tent City. If you choose this
option, you can park your car in Albany (long-term parking available--see
below), take the shuttle to Buffalo, and bike back to Albany.
SORRY, WE DO NOT OFFER A RETURN SHUTTLE FROM ALBANY TO BUFFALO AT THIS TIME.
How do I get my bike to the ride?
There are many options for getting your bicycle to the starting point
in Buffalo. For many people the best option will be to ship their bicycle
ahead of time via UPS. For more information about your options and how
to ship your bicycle see Transportation
How do weekend riders get to and from
Weekend rides take place on July 6-8 (Buffalo-Pittsford, plus pre-rides on July 6 in Buffalo) and July 12-14 (Canajoharie-Albany) Riders can take advantage of the long-term parking available
at the Buffalo and Albany ends of the ride. Cycling the Erie Canal will
not provide transportation to get weekend riders to their starting
points. We understand that this may be difficult for some people, but
we offer the weekend rides for those who cannot do the entire ride,
but would like to participate.
Where is the long-term parking?
Long-term parking is available in both Buffalo and Albany for all
participants of the bike tour.
Buffalo long-term parking. Parking in Buffalo will be at the Nichols School (starting point). If you are using the parking lot in Buffalo make sure to indicate this on your registration form. Parks & Trails New York will include the parking pass in your registration packet. This pass must be displayed in the front windshield
of your automobile. Please note that Parks & Trails New York is
not responsible for any damage or theft that may occur to your vehicle
while in the long-term parking lots, although we don't expect any of
these things to happen. No valuables should be left visible in your
parked car. Please come to the registration area in Buffalo before parking
your car in long-term parking.
Albany long-term parking. You can park your car for the entire
week at the Amtrak train station in Rensselaer, NY (the shuttle departure
location), for a fee.
Note: We are offering a shuttle from Albany to Buffalo for an additional
fee of $85. You can park in Albany, take the shuttle to Buffalo, and
bicycle back to Albany with the other riders.
Do you offer a return shuttle from
Albany to Buffalo upon the completion of the Cycling the Erie Canal
At this time we do not offer a return shuttle for the Cycling the Erie
Canal tour. Riders are responsible for their own transportation upon
the conclusion of
the ride. Suggestions and information about transportation options are
outlined in the transportation
section of the website and the rider
handbook. We have also found that by using our canaltour
message board, participants have been able to exchange ride
tips and, on occasion, arrange carpools.
What if my bike breaks down?
Mobile mechanical and sag wagon support will be available to the riders
every day to help fix the problem or get rider and bike to a place where
the problem can be fixed. The rider is responsible for all repair and
What if I can't bike the whole way one
or more days?
Bicyclists are expected to have a fitness level that will allow them
to bicycle all the miles every day. However, we understand that sometimes
assistance is needed and in those cases sag wagons will bring riders
and bicycles to the Tent City at the end of the day. See Preparing
for the Ride for training tips.
How can my family reach me in an emergency?
In an emergency, family members can contact Parks & Trails New York
from 9 to 5 workdays at 518-434-1583 or Al Hastings, Ride Director,
at 607-423-2769 anytime. If all else fails, contact the Police Department
in the Tent City Community and they will pass on the message.
If I'm not riding, do I have to register?
Everyone must register and pay the fee for the event, whether you are
riding or not. Everyone will receive a wristband at registration that
allows access to all tours, campsites and meals.
How can I get more information about
some of the areas we will be biking through?
Check out the following websites: The Niagara Region, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Tour Cayuga, Visit the Finger Lakes, The Finger Lakes, Schenectady, Montgomery County, Albany, Wayne County, Orleans County, Seneca County, and Oneida County
How can I volunteer?
Both riders and non-riding participants can volunteer to help out during
the ride. Volunteers will receive a discount on the registration fee
and riders will still be able to bicycle part of the time. There are
many volunteer possibilities available for volunteers including sag
and luggage truck drivers, rest stop help, route supervisors, route
checking, and more!! You can view the volunteer
job descriptions. Volunteer registration opens 1/1/13. If you have questions about volunteering,
please contact us at 607-423-2769.
What have past participants said about
the tour? Best ride in my 13 years of doing multiple-day
rides...The route was interesting, unusual and a pleasure to ride...The
planning was outstanding....Lots of fun... I really enjoyed the canal
history presentations...The swimming pools were so refreshing... The
bus trips into town in the evening were perfect...Riders and volunteers
were great...Everyone's stories were great to hear...We loved it...This
was our first organized ride and we're now anxious to try others but
we'll be back...Really enjoyed the brew tour and Remington Arms tour...
Keep this event alive...I liked the combination of history and physical
activity...Great memories...I am recommending the ride to friends and
family.... Plenty of time to visit historic sites...Excellent ride,
wonderful people...Nice mix of support and independence...So many museums
and side trips-we couldn't do them all...Great group spirit...The canal
museum in Syracuse was superb...The perfect way to visit upstate New
York... I made many new friends...The ice cream social was fun...Volunteers
were alway helpful and friendly...I want to go again next year
Why should I sign up?
Cycling the Erie Canal will be a week spent with companion cyclists
learning about the history of the Erie Canal and enjoying the scenery
of beautiful Upstate New York. Riders will enjoy time cycling and touring
with family members, renewing old friendships and making new friendships.
Cycling the Erie Canal is an opportunity for you to enjoy this beautiful
region of New York State in a truly unique manner and at your own pace.
Riders can enjoy the canal towns, quaint shops and historic sites along
the way. If this sounds good to you, your family or a friend, sign up
today and begin making plans for a memorable trip along the Canalway
Trail on bicycle.
More Questions? Check out
the Rider Handbook, give us a call at 518-434-1583, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org