The final day's ride of Cycling the Erie Canal had a lot of opportunity to enjoy views of the water, rivers, locks and waterfalls, all along nicely maintained public bike and recreation trails.
If cyclists on the canal ride were hoping to be next to water, they got their wish on Sunday's last segment of the trip.
After a misty morning breaking camp for the final time, the trail took riders along the Mohawk River from Scotia to Niskayuna. A paved trail for riders, walkers, strollers and the like is well maintained and well-used. A short side trip brought some visitors to Lock 7 on the Mohawk at Niskayuna. Built 99 years ago, the 27-foot elevation change for boats traveling up or down the waterway looks higher when standing atop the huge lock doors.
Riders had to leave the water for a short time, as the bikeway would through city streets, before getting back to the water with a dramatic view of Cohoes Falls. The water coming down the Mohawk at this point rages in multiple directions, creating a rising mist. This area also afforded a chance to see one of the locks form the historic canal. Old Lock 18, built in 1842, shows the spillway that helped the water rise and fall in the old locks, and still has one of the old lock doors.
The path continued on, taking riders past an old part of the Champlain Canal, before reaching Waterford. A Marina had attracted several pleasure boats docked beside. The developed waterfront was also hosting a farmer's market and entertainment when riders went through. As the route continued, cyclists traversed over to Peebles Island at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.
Riders again picked up the bikeway after negotiating some city streets. The final five miles were pedaled beside the Hudson River, giving the individuals, couples, families, parents and children some quiet riing to perhaps reflect on the entire journey.
MIXED FINAL EMOTIONS
Many participants expressed the same mix of satisfaction, relief the ride was over, yet a little melancholy to end the week's routine of camping, packing, riding and camaraderie. Repeat riders finished with a confident "see you next year." Others thought about repeating this adventure or taking on another riding challenge. But for Cycling the Erie Canal 2013, 400 miles down (really about 388), ZERO to go.