Day 8, Chittenango to Utica, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 7, 2014

Geese_in_PathThe Journey Along the Erie Canal crew enjoyed a much deserved day of respite Sunday but, come Monday, it was back to work as usual. Except today was not usual.

While driving out to the starting point this morning, I was followed by a looming black cloud. Might that portend an ill-fated 43 miles for the bikers? I hoped not. But, then again, a little drama would be nice.

At the ARC ceremony, John Robinson made a point of recognizing the town’s most celebrated author, L. Frank Baum of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Today, I don’t have to create a fictitious world. There is a world of people with differing abilities all around us,” said Robinson.

Baum was born and raised in Chittenango and every June, the village celebrates with Oz-Stravaganza. This year, Roger Baum, great grandson of L. Frank Baum, served as the Grand Marshal during the parade.

There were no parades today. Instead, it was an excruciating day of flat tires, felled trees on the trail, mosquito bites, goose poop and random torrential downpours. After 10 miserable hours dodging setbacks, indeed, everyone was clicking their heels three times and repeating the words… ‘There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.’

There will be no video to accompany tonight’s blog. I’d easily turn into the Wicked Witch of the North if I don’t get enough sleep tonight!

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Trail of Hope and peppermint in Lyons, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 5, 2014

Peppermint Days in Lyons NY

Trail of Hope Sign

In the 1800′s, Peppermint was the cash crop that turned Lyons, NY into a thriving mecca. The Erie Canal was used to transport endless shipments of peppermint oil to countries around the world. Lyons was once even known as the “Peppermint Oil Capital of the World.”

Starting on Saturday, July 14, the annual Peppermint festival kicks off with commemorative activities happening throughout downtown, at the Hotchkiss Peppermint Building and on the Erie Canal. But, not far from celebration is a park where the hybrid mint can actually be smelled, touched and tasted.

It’s the Trail of Hope, a Trail Works, Inc. in conjunction with Forever Wild for Everyone collaboration, designed to connect children and the disabled with the wonders of Mother Nature.

Build on land adjacent to the Lyons Community Center, the project is the brainchild of local resident and community organizer, Mark De Cracker. Thanks to an endless supply of volunteers the following has been build: dozens of flower and herb gardens, a covered bridge, several waterfalls and ponds, raised beds of perennials and vegetables, sod furniture, even a Yellow Brick Road.

To view the video that complements this blog: http://youtu.be/31d4VJcIDOQ

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Day 4: Fairport to Lyons, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 4, 2014

Doug_SmilingPam Hamlin is Doug’s wife, best friend, companion biker and her husband’s biggest supporter. She works hard to provide her parapelgic husband with whatever he needs but because he’s so independent, he often finds a way to tackle obstacles without asking for help.

Last year, Doug biked the canal with equipment that proved less-than-adequate for a 365-mile journey. When he got home, he immediately researched options to improve his speed, time and efficiency for this year’s ride.

His new custom, made-to-measure, lightweight, recumbent handcycle is like a missile! Built by companies Invacare®, Top End® and Force™-3, the design includes a comfortable seat and backrest so Doug can avoid lower spine pain and use more of his core strength. It sits only inches above the ground and, occasionally, some of the leg straps need adjusting.

Training with a personal coach throughout the winter has also helped Doug keep up with the pack. Pam, John, Andrea and the entire team couldn’t more proud.

To watch the video for DAY 4, click here: http://youtu.be/1hDy7d8VDvc

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Day 3: Spencerport to Fairport, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 4, 2014

DSC_1367Journey Along the Erie Canal team had a rough start when Doug and Pam got locked out of their hotel room prior to the start. The 50-minute delay cost them their ice cream stop in Pittsford which didn’t fair well with 12-year old Owen – John’s youngest son, nor his best friend.

Besides the soaring heat and riding on a surface of rough stone dust, the team are on a strict timeline. Large welcome parties replete with police escorts, dignitaries and local ARC chapters are anticipating they finish at certain hours so the pressure is on.

Recumbent bicycles or tricycles aren’t just for riders that live with a physical disability or injury. Systems engineer at MVP, Martin Walders, as with dozens more that we’ve seen on the Erie Canal trails, use the laid-back reclining position to support their back and neck. The aerodynamic design is fast too, in fact, the world’s top speed on a bike were achieved on a recumbent.

To watch the video for DAY 3, click here: http://youtu.be/ctNZ-aI3hIk

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Day 2: Medina to Spencerport, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 4, 2014

Medina Gathering with Realty USAWell, despite the screaming hot temps, they made it another 32 miles today! They being John Robinson, Doug Hamlin, family, friends and supporters of the Journey along the Erie Canal II.

An easterly wind was so strong along the Erie Canal, it bent and twisted tree branches tossing debris onto the trail. Some even landed in the water. No matter. The team fought sunburn and dehydration and somehow managed enough energy to meet and greet curious locals in the port village of Albion.

In Albion, the crew enjoyed a police escort from the trail to Main Street to an advocacy organization called The Arc of Orleans County. NYSARC, a major sponsor for this trek, is helping coordinate logistics and public relations for Our Ability along with prepping refreshments and hardy handshakes with local politicians at the beginning, middle or end of each ride.

To watch the video for DAY 2, click here: http://youtu.be/1hDy7d8VDvc

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Day 1: Tonawanda to Medina, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 3, 2014

DSC_1289Day 1 of the “Journey Along the Erie Canal II” kicked off with a press event at the Nia Wanda Park in Tonawanda. Hundreds were attendance as Robinson, Hamlin, family and supporters began their 365-mile trek to Albany. Day 1 culminated in 6 hours of riding in 90-degree temps with several flat tires and one ice cream stop in the bucolic town of Medina, NY.

To watch the video for DAY 1, click here: http://youtu.be/MR4SWrlHct0

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