‘Bike the Byway’event shows riders Erie Canal history

It was picture-perfect weather for a bicycle ride on the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Saturday, for t

Categories: Schenectady County

It was picture-perfect weather for a bicycle ride on the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Saturday, for those who know what that is.

The byway is a network of about 38 miles of local, county, state and federal highways that follow the historic route of the Erie Canal in a loop around Waterford and Cohoes and then west along the Mohawk River to Schenectady. The trail includes historic locations and parks that tell the story of the Erie Canal.

Saturday the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition hosted a “Bike the Byway” event, free and open to the public, to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the towpath being named a national scenic byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Larry Syzdek, a resident of Clifton Park, is the chairman of the coalition. The goal was to draw attention to the byway.

“There are probably more people across the country and on the other side of the country that know about this than live around here,” Syzdek said. “When we were invited to the national byway conference in Boulder, Colo., everybody had to explain where their byway was. All we had to do was say Erie Canal and everyone knew exactly where we meant.”

The Mohawk Towpath is one of New York state’s three national scenic byways, along with the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and the Lakes to Locks Passage. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail parallels 518 miles of shoreline along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania. The Lakes to Locks Passage includes a trail that runs along the upper Hudson River, Champlain Canal, Lake George, Lake Champlain, Richelieu River and Chambly Canal.

Syzdek said he was pleased with the turnout Saturday, which was about 60 people.

Steven and Fern Hayden were among the riders enjoying the day. Steven said the event was interesting because Clifton Park Historian John Scherer traveled with the group explaining to them the significance of different stops along the way.

Fern, who was almost too exhausted to pedal at the end of the event, said biking the 38-mile trail was quite a workout.

“The most I’ve ever done was 14 miles, so this was quite an accomplishment for me,” she said.

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