There are two things guaranteed to increase my heart rate on these rides besides hills…I was “visited” by both today.
Freezing cold hose showers…x 2 today, at 6 AM and 3 PM 68 miles apart…
and a Big, Big, Really Big Dog.
This one could eat me in two bites. Luckily I think he was a bit put off by my orange outfit and decided just to bark…the blast itself was enough to knock me off my bike.
Nonetheless it was a wonderful riding day leaving behind Lake Ontario and heading south to Palmyra to pick up the Erie Canal which leads us west for 125 miles to Lockport and then finally Niagara Falls.
Palmyra , named after the ancient Syrian city of the same name,
a crossroads on the East West silk route,
sits on the Erie Canal and at one time was itself a major center of a East West trade along the water way. Originally called Swift’s Landing, the name was changed in 1827 after the opening of the Canal. Beside being an industrial and trade center of the early 1800s Palmyra was also known for its being the location of the founding of the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith.
His farmstead sits upon a hill just above the Great Canal.
Today Palmyra is a sleepy town of 3000 with a glorious past that has faded away, markers of that time left in place by the 4 massive churches on the corners of Main Street.
Our first rest stop of the day sits next to the Canal down from these steeples and after snacks we head west, along the same path used by mules and drivers for 60 years to tow grain and furs from the West, settlers from the East, tourists and freight both ways, and run away slaves to the North to Canadian freedom.
Completed in 1825 and considered the greatest engineering feat of its time the Canal cut travel time by half from the Great Lakes to New York City and reduced transportation costs by 95%.
Within one year not only was the Canal a major profitable success for its investors but collected Federal custom taxes on transported goods paid the entire US National Yearly Expenses with the exception of the interest on the National Debt…
Even then our Debt was un-payable…been there, done that…
The peak year for the Canal was 1855 with 33,000 barge passages. Trade along the waterway continued until 1994; today it is use mainly as a recreational waterway but ghosts of the past still linger on.
Nearly every large city in the State of New York is found on the Erie Canal or Hudson River, the end point of the man made waterway.
Riding West we circumvent Rochester and head towards a hosting church in Spencerport, our night’s stay.
All along the route locks are still functional although the one close to Palymyra leaves much to be desired…
Each of the locks have a 14 foot lift allowing for the difference of 600 feet between Buffalo and the Hudson River.
As we ride west we pass beautiful flowers,
and ride through “ snow showers” of cottonwood, an event lasting 3 weeks here.
Our path is smooth and flat except where we must climb 14 foot “ hills” at each lock.
These climbs I don’t mind…they don’t even increase my heart rate…
Guess I better go take another cold shower to stay in shape…