Accessible Tourism Along the Erie Canal


Starting June 23 (in a few short hours), congenital amputee John Robinson and quadriplegic Doug Hamlin of Albany’s “Our Ability” begin a 17-day bike journey across New York State along the historic Erie Canal.

The team has been practicing for this ambitious 365-mile adventure for several months. Their goal is not only to finish but to raise awareness and funding for people with disabilities and adaptive sports.

I’ll be chronicling the ride for a documentary plus providing daily video, blogs and social media updates here on the Times Union travel blog. I’ll also be recording the historical significance and cultural importance of the towns that the journey takes us through.

A ‘chase vehicle’ is necessary for GoPro video shots from in front, behind and alongside John and Doug as they make their way along stone dust trails, unfinished sections, even off-road portions. Because sections of the corridor are under construction, there will be times when the pair will kayak, bike, walk and hike to reach their next destination.

A golf cart and/or Segway would have been the ideal chase vehicle but those options fell flat. Instead, I modified my bike with a trailer hitch (thank you George) to carry the equipment and gear from behind. Should it rain I’m hopeful that the umbrella and tarp keep the camera(s) dry.

Politicians, organizers and leaders in the Tonawanda community will gather Sunday morning to bid the duo a safe journey. There should be no chance of getting lost as the team will be using a foolproof resource guidebook called “Cycling the Erie Canal” by Parks and Trails.

Maps and listings of bike shops, lodging and emergency logistics should guarantee that if someone experience a flat tire, lack of water or (God forbid) a need for a physician, civilization isn’t far away.