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Bikes along the Erie

Bicyclists rolled into Canastota July 13, some stopping to eat, tour the museum or just to rest a spell. Joe DiGiorgio and Chuck Merrifield, volunteers for the Canastota Canal Town Museum set up an information booth and directed the tourists to local food establishments and points of interests.

The eighth annual Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour, organized by Parks and Trails New York and sponsored by the New York State Canal Corporation began in Buffalo July 9 and ended in Albany July 16. More than 500 cyclists from 38 states took part in the tour. About two-thirds of the 400-mile route is on the completed portion of the Canalway Trail, which will one day provide an uninterrupted 524 miles of trail.

According to DiGiorgio between 450 and 500 bicyclists stopped in Canastota.

More than half of the people stopped at the museum, DiGiorgio said. We recommended places to eat and handed out pamphlets.

The Canal Town Corporation, the village and the town of Lenox provided cyclists with a brochure detailing a brief history of Canastota including its famous citizens, inventors and early industry. It included information on the museum, and an area map. The brochure also listed many of Canastota's points of interest including the World War II and 911 memorials, the Great Swamp Conservancy, the library and the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Neil Chapiro of Schenectady said he suffered a flat tire on the tour but the most challenging had been the weather. The day before, cyclists rode to Syracuse in torrential rains, which made for muddy trails with deep ruts.

Although the cyclists have support in the way of a van that follows the tourists and carries basic bicycle supplies, many of the cyclists were looking for a bicycle shop for tires or patch kits. DiGiorgio and Merrifield directed them to the local hardware store. Others asked for a place to buy sunglasses or ice cream. Many were looking for a coffee shop or a place to grab a sandwich.

The brochure listed local supporters of the Canal Town Museum including the Community Pharmacy, Jreck Subs, New York Pizzeria and Little Jak's Pizza Shack. It also listed other local restaurants and services providing the tourists with a variety of places to eat and shop.

The cyclists left Canastota and headed to Rome to visit the Erie Canal Village, Fort Stanwix and other attractions. They stayed the night in Rome before continuing east to Albany.

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