500 Bicyclists Celebrate Completion of 400-Mile Journey Along Erie Canal

'Cycling the Erie Canal' Concludes in Albany

ALBANY, NY (07/15/2012)(readMedia)-- Celebrating upstate New York's unique history and scenic beauty, 500 bicycle riders from 36 states joined with state and local officials at Quackenbush Square in Albany to mark the completion of Parks & Trails New York's annual week-long bicycle tour from Buffalo to Albany.

The Albany celebration recognized the riders' achievement and highlighted the importance of the Erie Canalway Trail to upstate New York's quality of life and economy. When the Canalway Trail is finished, it will be the longest statewide trail in the United States. It is 75 percent complete along its 524-mile total length.

Members of Governor Cuomo's cabinet and executive staff joined the cyclists – aged 5 to 85 years -- during the tour to connect with visitors and residents all along the historic Canal corridor and to emphasize the vitally important role of the Canal as an economic development engine for Canal communities.

"The Cycling the Erie Canal tour is an inexpensive, healthy, and enjoyable way to explore the Erie Canal, historic towns and villages, and wonderful attractions of Upstate New York," said Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. "Our cyclists were welcomed by hundreds of residents, business people, and other volunteers in communities along the route who helped them discover what makes the Erie Canal and upstate New York so special."

Canal Director Brian U. Stratton said, "After having bicycled along for parts of this tour I am again reminded by people along the way how important the Canal corridor is to the economy of Upstate New York. The Erie Canal is a vital artery for economic development and jobs growth."

"We are delighted to be the official bank sponsor for Cycle the Erie Canal 2012," said Nina Tyzik, First Niagara's Retail Banking Director. "First Niagara is excited to take part in this dynamic and energizing event."

"This cycling event provides a great opportunity to introduce New York State to a new audience," said Michele Vennard, President/CEO of the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Parks & Trails New York is the leading advocate for the economic, health, and quality of life benefits of the state's parks, multi-use and community trails, bike paths, and greenways, working since 1985 to protect and promote a green network across New York that brings nature closer to home for every New Yorker.

The NYS Canal Corporation is the Premier State Sponsor of Cycling the Erie Canal for the 14th straight year. First Niagara is the official bank sponsor. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is the event's Heritage Sponsor. Supporting sponsors include CSEA and Brookfield Power. Other sponsors include Wegmans, Terry Cycling, and I LOVE NY.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Robin Dropkin, Parks & Trails New York

Office: (518) 434-1583/ Cell: (518) 929-5043

John Joyce, NYS Canals

July 15, 2012 Office: (518) 436-2983/ Cell: (518) 469-5836