by Dave Warner

Cyclists are returning to Little Falls in droves for several reasons, but one for sure is the lifting of the COVID restrictions and the other is the construction of all of the new trails, which has made things easier for all of the participants.

On Friday, it was a group of more than 350 that were passing through the Mohawk Valley and Little Falls in particular on the sixth day of the Cycle the Erie Canal’s 23rd annual event, organized by the Parks & Trails New York nonprofit group.

The group of cyclists consisted of riders from 34 states and two countries, who cover between 40 and 60 miles a day via the Eri Canalway Trail between Buffalo and Albany, which is now 85% complete. The average age of the rider is 60 and the trip is approximately 400 miles.

Louis Dimock, who has been volunteering for twenty years said that the group that was in Little Falls today came from Verona Beach State Park in Rome and that they were headed to Canajoharie for the night.

“We’re on our way to Albany and we should get there on Sunday. We started in Buffalo last Sunday, so we’re just kind of cruising along.”

Little Falls is their afternoon rest stop where they can eat, shop, and have a little downtime.

Dimock said, “The new trails that they’ve completed since we were here two years ago, have really improved the experience.”

She said that part of the trip is the chance to see different towns, museums, and things of interest. “They have a good time. Last night at Fort Stanwix they had a bike corral. We parked the bikes and went inside the fort. Normally we stay there, but because of the restrictions, we had to stay at the beach.”

“Nobody seemed to be in a rush this morning to get started,” stated Dimock. “Each year it gets a little different.”

Mary Lebrech with Travelodge said, “Every year it has grown a little bit, and now that they’ve expanded the trail and finished it, it’s really going to draw a lot more people coming through, even families.”

America by Bicycle will be through the City in August this year. “They are only doing one trip this year, but they’ve already booked for both trips next year,” she said.

Great American Bike Tours has been another company that has brought cycling tours through the City. “They have five to ten groups coming through this year,” said Lebrech.

Many more groups have been coming into the City since the trail updates have been completed. According to Marica Bellico with the Inn at Stone Mill, “Booking has actually been pretty crazy this summer. Starting right from the Memorial Day Weekend, we’ve had a lot of reservations. We’ve had organized bicycling tour groups that have booked the whole floor at the Inn.”

Bellico said that groups have booked from June all the way through September and many of the Cycle the Erie Canal group have booked rooms as well. “I see more people bicycling or walking and jogging, and I think the new trail has helped a lot to bring people into Little Falls.”