To Medina - Back to Beginnings - CycleBlaze

June 14, 2021

To Medina

I started my journey eastward along the Erie Canal fortified with coffee, yogurt and egg bites from Tim Horton’s. The weather prediction called for morning showers, and I could have delayed my start. But I was just too excited! Maybe next time I’ll calm down and stay dry.

The route headed out from the harbor north along the Niagara River, crossing under the Peace Bridge, which connects the US and Canada, before dipping down to Unity Island. The first drops of rain hit me at the Peace Bridge and I donned my rain jacket as soon as I hit the island. Despite the inclement weather, cycling along the river was rather nice.

 For the first fifteen miles until Tonawanda, the route was a mix-mash of paved greenways and bike lanes. Tonawanda is the site where the Erie Canal empties into the Niagara River and I was expecting a big Erie Canal Trail welcome center – if for nothing more than a photo-op. But there was none. Road construction blocked my RWGPS route on the south side of the canal and the Gateway Center that I found on the north side seemed to be some type of city visitor center with no apparent bike access to a canal trail. I finally found the canal trail thanks in part to spotting two soggy blokes on bikes with panniers. Dan and Craig were just starting out, heading to New York City – no doubt we will meet again on the trail.   

Vivien George at the Peace Bridge - photobombed by members of the West Side Rowing Club
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West Side Rowing Club looking pretty good - maybe the 2nd seat could be a little more in synch
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Vivien George and Peace Bridge from Unity Island
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Peace Bridge
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Don and Craig - our first meeting
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From Tonawanda, the Erie Canal Trail heads northeast for 20 miles to Lockport, generally following the Erie Canal. However, there are a number “street sections” on lightly traveled roads. The rain had been coming down pretty steadily for a couple of hours, and I stopped to don some extra layers and booties to keep the chill at bay. I was heartened when the sky ahead brightened, and I started dreaming of a warm lunch in Lockport. Tom’s Diner sounded like just the place for the grilled cheese and soup I was craving. And soon enough “I was sitting at the counter” in Tom’s Diner, humming the words to the classic Suzanne Vega song while downing two cups of hot chocolate, a grilled cheese on rye, and a cup of chili. By the time I left, I was toasty inside and the sun was shining outside.

A good day for waterfowl
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Jeanie Redicklunch sounds amazing!!!
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3 months ago
A dry place for layering up
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Bright skies ahead
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It had stopped raining by the time I arrived in Lockport, site of Lock 35
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Inside Tom's Diner
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Outside Tom's Diner
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Lockport is the start of the Erie Canal Trail towpath and the next 15 miles to Medina were canal-side along a mostly packed crushed stone surface. I had blue skies, sun shine, and a nice tailwind – the only thing that impeded my progress was frequent stops for pictures. Cornfields and big sky reminded me of Iowa, and of how much I love a long vista and skies that stretch from horizon to horizon. I was grinning all the way to Medina.

About to cross the canal and turn east - looks like I'll have a tailwind!
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The towpath start of the Erie Canalway Trail
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Along the Erie Canalway Trail
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Along the Erie Canalway Trail
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Along the Erie Canalway Trail
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Fruit orchard north of canal
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Cornfields and silos
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Cornfields, trees and big sky
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I arrived at my hotel in Medina a little past three – it was a self check-in hotel and they had texted me my room number and key codes for the outer and room doors. It was a great place, save for the fact that I had to carry my bike up to the third floor. The stairs were a bit long and narrow, but I managed not to fall over backward crushed by Vivien George. For dinner, I opted for a popular family restaurant - it was step up from a diner, but not a big one. I was craving pasta and went for the eggplant parm – a giant plate of food appeared that I didn’t half finish. That didn’t stop me from blueberry pie and ice cream for desert. I waddled back to the hotel, very satisfied with my first day of the Erie Canal Trail.

Barn and big apple
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Kathleen JonesUm, I think this apple is in the wrong town.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterKathleen - That's what I thought, until I read the plaque stating it was to honor the area fruit growers!
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3 months ago
Downtown Medina, NY
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Downtown Medina, NY
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Downtown Medina, NY
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Many cities in western New York were active in the abolition movement and served as stops on the Underground Railroad
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Today's ride: 53 miles (85 km)
Total: 264 miles (425 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 7
Kathleen JonesBack when I was a yuppie I once wrote a short article entitled “What Put the Lock in Lockport?” I was low-level staff at Chevron Public Affairs and they threw me a crumb to write a sidebar to a longer article about some fuel reseller or some such in the area. I have never been to Lockport, and all I remember of what I wrote is the headline. I always added in my head, “Courage!”

Your tour is lovely, Susan. I’m enjoying your writing and photos so much.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonThanks for the preview! This will be our day three weeks from now - sans the rain, of course.
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3 months ago
Alyssa LightThis little town is precious!! I finally was able to log into my account on cycle blaze and can make comments now:) We miss you and are so happy your trip is going so well!! New York is a beautiful state. XO
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Kathleen JonesKathleen - sorry to take so long to reply Lockport is a pretty nice town.
Thanks so much for your kind comments, they are very encouraging. Glad you're enjoying the journal!
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThanks Scott - hope this gives you a little preview and maybe some ideas to help guide your Canal and Finger Lakes adventure
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3 months ago
Rachael AndersonAs Scott mentioned, we are also biking to Medina. You mentioned you biked on the Erie Canal Trail towpath and that the 15 miles to Medina were canal-side along a mostly packed crushed stone surface. My butt doesn’t do well with a lot of riding on rough roads. How bad is it?
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterHi Rachael.

The 15 miles of canal trail from Lockport to Medina is packed stonedust - it's pretty smooth and easy rolling. There was a thin layer of dust covering the hard pack. Even though it had rained in the morning, the trail wasn't muddy. There are some pictures in my entry about Medina that might give you a better idea of the surface.

Farther east, unpaved sections of the trail can narrow and sometimes the stone dust is a little looser or heavier, but there aren't really rocks and ruts. I did hear that thick layered stone dust may get like peanut butter in heavy rain, but I did not experience that -even though it did rain during my trip.

Overall, there is very little of what I would call a "rough road" - certainly not like a gravel road with loose stones - just not as smooth as the tarmac. I'm not sure what your tire size is, but I saw some folks riding pretty skinny road bike tires.

Hope this helps - happy to give more info.
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2 months ago