Saratoga County

College official finishes bike trek across state

A 54-year-old Empire State College administrator has completed a 1,000-mile bicycle tour of the c


A 54-year-old Empire State College administrator has completed a 1,000-mile bicycle tour of the college’s 35 learning locations across the state.

From Plattsburgh to New York City and from Utica to Buffalo, Leslie Cohen pedaled his Italian 10-speed road bike on weekends starting in April. He completed his tour on Monday.

The reason for the Tour d’Empire was to raise awareness of the college’s many learning centers and to raise money for student scholarships, Cohen said this week.

Cohen, who is the college’s assistant vice president for human resources, said he averaged between 70 and 80 miles each day but sometimes biked more than 100 miles in a single day.

“It was absolutely awesome to experience the geography and topography of the state,” Cohen said.

After driving to the area by car, he would start riding on Friday and finish on Sunday over seven weekends.

Cohen raised more than $6,000 in pledges and donations during his Tour d’Empire. His goal is to raise a total of $25,000 this year so that an endowed scholarship can be created.

One weekend in late April, for example, Cohen visited Empire State’s Metropolitan Center in New York City and five other learning locations in the city, on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

Another weekend he would be out in western New York with visits to Buffalo, Jamestown, Lockport and Fredonia learning centers and units.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” Cohen said.

He said that Chris Pitts, owner of Elevate Cycles on Van Dam Street in Saratoga Springs, made sure his Torelli bike was properly tuned and ready for the long rides.

Cohen had no accidents during his 1,000 miles of pedaling but did encounter some flat tires along the way. He was always able to find a bike shop to repair or replace his tires.

He also found the VFW halls along the way “very, very helpful.” He would stop to use their restroom, fill his water bottles and take a break. Cohen said he’s not even a veteran.

“I kept a journal and took pictures of each center,” Cohen said about his tour.

Cohen is starting his seventh year as an administrator at Empire State College.

“I’m a born and raised New Yorker,” Cohen said.

This made biking his way around New York City and its boroughs a little bit easier.

Cohen is continuing to raise money for scholarships. People interested in making a donation can go to or call Empire State College’s development office at 587-2100.

Empire State College, with statewide headquarters on Union Avenue, is the non-traditional arm of the State University of New York.

The college offers busy adults the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree while holding down a full-time job and raising a family.

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