Along the Canal

My Brompton bicycle Basil and I found ourselves in upstate New York recently, and returned to a favorite haunt there:  the Erie Canal towpath.


This time, however, we found obstructions:  traffic cones, a torn-up trail, and heavy equipment where Basil’s tires prefer to be.

We shot a longing  glance down the canal, and then headed out on surface streets until we’d bypassed the construction.


This was the first time we’d ridden on streets in this area, or over any of the rather wonderful steel bridges.


There’s a walkway along the canal in the village of Pittsford, which we viewed, also for the first time, from a nearby bridge.


I stopped in at a bike shop next to the canal to replace a patch kit that had been depleted on a recent group ride.


In former days, tradesmen used to hang signs that signified the profession practised within their shops:  In this case, a bicycle chain is embedded in the entry-way.


Some strip malls are a little different in this part of the world.  I think most of these buildings have been re-purposed since they were built during the days when the canal itself was far more active than it is now.


This little “mall”, too, looks as if the buildings once served radically different needs — relevant, probably, to the kind of commerce that was once canal-driven.

We did eventually get a little bit of cycling in on the towpath, once we got past the construction.


The trail surface is a bit rough-and-ready; it’s mostly crushed stone.  Basil, and his Marathon tires, don’t mind a bit, though:  We’ve ridden many  miles on it in the past.  Those Bromptons look small, but they’re strong and adept!

6 replies on “Along the Canal”

This is great, Saul! Also, I had no clue that towing was mechanized so early — I’d thought it happened sometime in the 1930s. (Also liked seeing Lock 32 — that’s “my” lock!)

Cool report. Crushed stone can be fun to ride on. I used to ride on it in Missouri, on the MKT Trail. I have an open invitation from a friend to ride the Erie Canal Path. I would love to ride it.
Have a Nice Weekend!
Peace :)

Definitely fun, Chandra, and an adventure worth having. For a long time I’ve been dreaming of cycling along the canal from village to village, stopping to eat, and to stay, along the way. If you have a friend to ride with, so much the better!

Thanks Saul (& Brommie), I was wondering about the towpath expression because I was unaware that American canal use had pre-dated canal-boat engine power. Probably that ignorance comes from only seeing images of somewhat impressively sized canals & with towpaths more akin to roads? (In which case you’re in for a shock along some of the UK canal towpaths!)

You’re making me realize how little I know about USA towpaths, Ian. Here in the Northeast, and the Mid-Atlantic states, I’ve only seen rather narrow ones. My only other frame of reference is the Panama Canal, which I’ve seen only in pictures, and doesn’t really seem relevant.

It’s interesting to consider how dependent upon canals an area like upstate New York once was, and how rapidly things shifted once roads were built and motor vehicles began to rule transportation.

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