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Over 500 pass through tri-village area during Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Updated: 9:59 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE -- Participants of the 16th annual Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour passed through the tri-village area on Friday afternoon on day six of their eight day, 400-mile journey, which began in Buffalo, concluding Sunday in Albany.

As in past years, Canajoharie served as an overnight destination, the hundreds of riders finding reprieve at the top of Maple Avenue, where they set up camp at the Canajoharie High School, after what some riders called the longest, most strenuous day of the entire trip.

Before cruising into Canajoharie, the bikers travelled 62 miles from Rome. Because numerous riders stopped to take advantage of scheduled stops along the way, including an Erie Canal tour, many of Friday's riders rolled into town a bit later than usual. While the cyclists usually start coming through before noon, the heaviest flow of riders passed through Canajoharie in the late afternoon Friday, with just a steady trickle coming through prior to 3 p.m.

As always, the Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour featured loads of interesting individuals from all over the United States, and some from other countries. Passing through on Friday afternoon were Prescilla Hayes and Pete Patterson, of Robinsville, New Jersey, participating in the trek for the first time.

"It's a nice experience, but kind of tiring," Patterson commented, with Hayes agreeing, adding, "today was the longest day".

"One cool thing we saw -- we saw a lock," said Patterson about memorable sights along the way. Hayes explained that they watched a boat enter a lock that neither could remember the name of, though they noted that the lock-tender actually took them behind the scenes during the process.

She commented, "He took us behind the gate and let us watch from the deck."

Though the trip had mostly been rewarding, both travelers said that city traffic was a setback. "Sometimes you're in city traffic --sometimes you can't help that, but it's been challenging," said Patterson, stating that exiting Syracuse was the most trying part of the journey so far.

Daniel Bushman, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was traveling a bit further than the Erie Canal crew, from Minnesota to Massachusetts. An unofficial traveller within the group -- cycling with the Erie Canal tour by default for a couple days -- Bushman came across the 500-bikers earlier in the week. They left Buffalo the day before he did, and he accidentally met up with them along the way.

While he said he wasn't an official part of the group, Bushman noted that he was enjoying the experience and would join the Erie Canal tour in an official capacity in the future. "I love biking, I love being self sufficient," he commented, explaining that this trip was his first large one by bicycle, though he practiced frequently on the 20-mile bike trail surrounding his home city, cycling out to camping spots and back home the next day.

With him were what he considered to be essential possessions, such as his tent, clothing, cooking gear, phone and comic books. "My grandmother's basement has a good amount of stuff, but everything I need to survive is with me," he said.

In preparing for the trip, he simply made sure he was in good condition for such a rigorous journey. He packed numerous power-rich food items for his travels, including a powder he said was packed with b-vitamins, nutrients and minerals.

"One thing I'm noticing," he explained, "I'm much more susceptible to my environment".

He said that while in the city he can have a coffee and not feel anything, on the road, he can feel the energy it gives him.

"I feel the ups and downs."

Bushman's journey had a bit more travel tacked on the end, as his final destination was just north of Amherst, MA, where he planned to move to take on an internship.

The biggest challenge of the journey, during which he crossed the 1,200 mile mark Thursday, and would travel 1,500 miles altogether, Bushman noted, was the first ten miles everyday -- the stretch of time prior to when endorphins kick in, where he's just trying to "get myself going."

Every year, the cyclists are provided with a meal cooked by Brooks Barbecue, which was set up in downtown Canajoharie on Richardson's Foods' property instead of its usual location in the camping lot behind the Canajoharie High School. In the evening, a special Music on Mainstreet concert, a tribute to the Beatles, took place on the NBT Bank lawn.

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