Erie Canalway Trail

Wed, Aug 25

The hotel where we stayed in Lockport, the Lockport Inn and Suites, was a comfortable, old-fashioned motel, operated by a an older couple and their son. All the rooms were on ground level, with doors opening out onto the parking lot. The rooms were nicely furnished, with little touches that made it seem nicer than our own living room. They even had real glass wine glasses and coffee mugs. (But we had difficulty finding wine to put in them - that’s another story.)

We left the motel this morning around 9:15 but had not yet had breakfast or coffee. We pedaled about a mile down the street back to the canal and found a Tim Horton’s. It is rather like a Canadian version of Dunkin’ Donuts. It was a busy place, even though it was a very small restaurant tacked on to a gas station. There were five workers inside, but they could not keep up with the orders from the drive-up window, online orders, and customers in the store. It was quite the circus to watch. We ordered two breakfast sandwiches and 2 cups of coffee. After waiting about 20 minutes we got our food, but it was the wrong order. So we waited about another 20 minutes before the right food came out. We decided to buy a couple of bagels and get a jar of peanut butter to pack along for a lunch in case we did not find any other options on the trail. When the clerk asked if we wanted the bagels toasted, we laughed to ourselves and thought that they will be plenty toasted before we get to eat them. We finally rolled away from Tim Horton’s around 11:00.

We got back on the trail near the Flight of Five locks on the canal at Lockport, and continued eastward. It was a warm day, and we pedaled at a pace that was comfortable for us (slowly). We passed through the town of Medina, where we got off the bikes to walk along a concrete embankment where the surface was rough and groves. The concrete was deteriorating and crumbling. The entire embankment was a wall of the canal, essentially a dam holding up the entire left bank for about 100 yards or more. It wasn’t too encouraging to see the concrete cracked and crumbling the way that it was. As we were walking along that causeway, we had a great view of the Medina waterfall off to our left.

Shortly after leaving Medina, we came across a place where the canal crosses over a road. There is a tunnel underneath Erie Canal at this point, and a county road passes under the waterway.

About mid-morning, (i.e., noon), Steve remarked that he could sure use a cup of espresso. Shortly after that we came to a town called Middleport, and we needed to refresh our water bottles. Steve sat in the shade while I walked across the canal bridge to a few shops on the main street. I was just looking for a place where I could get some ice in the bottles and use the restroom. I noticed a cafe named Alternative Grounds (a coffee spot), and I headed there. The people inside were extremely nice and agreed to fill our water bottles with ice and let me use the restroom. That’s when I noticed that their menu had espresso, and their display case was full of pastries. So I got a cup of espresso and a scone for Steve.

While we sat in Middleport, the noon whistle blew. We cooled down in the shade for a bit and then moved on down the trail. Around 2 PM, we started to get a little hungry and decided to stop again and get more ice water. We found a place in the town of Albion to get our water bottles refreshed and filled with ice, and we bought a sandwich, which we took over to a little park on the opposite side of the canal, where we found a picnic table under a shady gazebo. Albion has a nice little area for cyclists using the trail, including a very clean and nice restroom (with a shower!) And it was air-conditioned! I didn’t want to leave.

We saw some interesting wildlife today, including a bald eagle and a great heron. Steve also saw some fish in the canal, which we were remarking that we had not yet seen. There were a couple of boats on the canal, too. One was a chugging little vessel that reminded us of the African Queen, and the other was more like an old-fashioned canal boat. We saw only one kayaker, and I suppose the canal is not very interesting for kayaking since there is little to no current. We also passed numerous apple orchards, with trees full of fruit nearly ripe.

About 10 miles from our destination, Brockport, we paused and talked with another cyclist who was heading the same direction. He had also started at Lockport this morning and was planning to spend the night in Brockport. It is his second time riding the Erie Canalway Trail, so he obviously liked it well enough to do it again. He recommended a hotel in one of the overnight towns (Amsterdam), where we had booked a room at another place, but ours was up a long and steep hill, and neither of us was so thrilled about that. So, based on his recommendation, we changed our arrangements for a place closer to the trail.

We rolled into Brockport around 5 pm, after making several stops in the shade to cool down and give ourselves a little break. We are staying at the Hampton Inn, and this gives us a chance to do our laundry, too. (Last night’s place did not have facilities for laundry, so we washed just the important stuff in the sink and hung everything out to dry overnight so we could pack them back in bags this morning.) We asked the clerk at the Hampton if they might possibly have an outdoor hydrant and garden hose so we could wash the trail dust off our bikes and bags, but she said she didn’t think they had one. She offered to ask, but we had noticed a garden center next door, and employee was out in the front watering plants with a hose, so we went over and asked for a favor.

She was very accommodating and even went and fetched a hose with a sprayer attachment. She asked if we had ridden very far today, and when we told her that we had come from Lockport, her response was, “Are you nuts?!” So we chatted with her for a little while. She assumed that we were professional cyclists because we are wearing RAGBRAI bike jerseys and lycra shorts. She asked how long we had been doing bicycle touring, and remarked that we were probably still young. She was astounded when Steve told her his actual age. It was a real perk to talk with her. She was so kind and made us feel good about ourselves. We thanked her again for the use of the garden hose, and she wished us well on our trip. “Remember,” she said, “there’s always the possibility of taking the bus home!”

While we took cooling showers and started our laundry, Steve suggested that we look to see if the grocery store across the way might have something we’d like for our supper. It is a Wegman’s store, so of course it had everything we needed - except wine. They had a huge selection of beer - but no wine. It’s a New York state law thing - grocery stores and convenience stores cannot sell wine. So while Steve was finishing the laundry, I hiked over the to store and bought us two pasta entrees and a big green salad. And a six-pack of Stella Artois. We’ve just had a relaxing dinner in the room and are ready to go to bed now. Tomorrow’s route takes us around the city of Rochester in the longest day (mileage-wise) on our trip, so we’d like to get a good night’s sleep.

Total miles today: 48.44

P.S. Yesterday, in Tonawanda, near the intersection of Niagara Falls Blvd and Tonawanda Creek Road, we were passed by the “Google Street View” car.

Flight of Five, Lockport

Another look at the Flight of Five (on the right) at Lockport

boy fishing

Boy fishing on the banks of the canal at Lockport

Guard gate

Guard gate - to control the water pool in the canal

Molly at a shady spot

Molly at a shady spot at Middleport

Canal wall

Concrete canal-side wall at Medina

Medina Falls

Medina Falls

Medina Culvert

Medina Culvert

Lafayette sign

Lafayette was *near* here (Albion, NY)

canal boat

Boat on the canal at Medina

Steve at lunch

Steve at lunch in Medina

bridge to nowhere

Bridge to nowhere

Molly with dinner

Molly, enjoying dinner in our room

Aug 22 and 23 - Getting to the starting point
Aug 24 - Buffalo to Lockport
Aug 25 - Lockport to Brockport
Aug 26 - Brockport to Palmyra
Aug 27 - Palmyra to Weedsport
Aug 28 - Weedsport to Syracuse
Aug 29 - Syracuse to Rome
Aug 30 - Rome to Little Falls
Aug 31 - Little Falls to Amsterdam
Sep 1 - Amsterdam to Albany
Sep 2 - Albany

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