LVRF Bike Ride on the Erie Canal Trail — Submitted by Dr. Jeff Hilovsky
Thank you so much for all your contributions in support of the bicycle ride my friends and I planned in late July. We raised over $4725 for a genuinely great cause (Lions Vision Research Foundation) . As some of you know, one of my hobbies is to ride my bike, sometimes solo, often with friends. I have been riding for over 30 years, and have completed numerous metric century rides, 50 mile rides, and 100 miles rides. Ad-ditionally, friends and I have ridden the PA Grand Canyon several times, and have rode from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. on the PA Gap Trail connecting to the C&O Canal Trail.
This year’s ride was with my Air Force buddies, Jeff Kontak, MD, and John Rigilano, MD. We last worked together in 1993, but have kept in touch over the years and met for rides in different locations. They are wonderful compassionate individuals with great integrity whom I respect greatly. I am honored they consid-er me a close friend. Together our attitude and sense of humor made the miles pass quickly.
We decided to ride at a comfortable pace, stopping to read and learn from the many trail marking signs along the way. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the nice quaint northern NY towns along the way. We rode up to 65 miles a day and finished with 370 miles, starting at the Buffalo river/ Lake Erie junction in downtown Buffalo, and ending up at the steps of the Capital in Albany. Heat was the worst enemy, and we reminded each other to hydrate often and periodically “refuel” with energy bars. Our spirits were good andbecause we all trained for this ride, with each of us riding over 1,000 miles to prepare. This made the ride seem fairly easy: no pain, no soreness, and no regrets.
Even in these COVID times, the people we met along the way were gracious and hospitable. We had good meals in the evening and stayed in some interesting places. If there was any disappointment it was in the places where the trail path ended and coincided with the road. In several areas we were on city streets or on secondary highways. The secondary highways had narrow shoulders and led to some interesting riding. We plan a similar trip next year, perhaps diagonally across Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland, or across Michigan.



Peace Bridge to Canada


Dr. Jeff Kontac and Dr. John Rigalano

Unexpected detour


DAY 2 - 65 miles of riding.  Lots of beautiful scenery.

Outdoor military museum in Buffalo

Niagara Falls

Visited Niagara Falls after dinner

House of bike supporters

DAY 3 - Greetings from downtown Weedsport, NY.  Another hot one...but with a BONUS.....we had MONSOONS also! Got moist from the rain, and that made it a bit more humid.  93+ today.  Hope tomorrow is a bit cooler.  We are into the Finger Lakes region now,  and had dinner in Seneca Falls, the home of the womens suffrage movement.  62 miles today, for a total over 160 miles so far. 

The trail that never ends.

Pittsford, NY canal waterfront

Bridge closed, but OK for cyclists to cross. Trail continues on other side of the canal.

Mural just outside Newark, NY

DAY 4 - What a difference a day makes....still hot, but less humid.  53 miles today, approx 210 miles of riding so far.  Rode through downtown Syracuse today, pretty city.  Lots of road riding today due to trail flooding, more trail closures for tomorrow's ride.

Art Deco Niagara Power building in Rochester


Aquaduct built into canal over river

Lord Baltimore Lion Dr. Jeff Hilovsky and trail markings


DAY 5 - 58 miles.  Trail breaks necessitated more road riding than desired, and poor signage and internet connections added to the frustration.  However, these speed bumps were bound to happen.  The day ended with smiles and wood fired pizza.  Huge hill climb tomorrow!

Half way point in ride




Little Falls, NY

Canal Inn

Dr. Jeff Kontac on top of canal lock in the pouring rain

Cohoes Falls

Cataract Street, yes Cataract Street (they must have known I was coming) ....just beside the Cohoes Falls.

Beginning or end of the Erie Canal at the junction with the Mohawk River north of Albany.

RCA Victor dog "Nipper" on top of a building in Albany

Done!  Finishing photo at the steps of the State Capital building in Albany


Done!  Just over 370 total miles as recorded by my Garmin bike computer.  Great ride into Albany, past the junction of the easternmost part of the Erie Canal and Mohawk River at the northern tip of Green Island.  Then onto Albany the state capital to finish.  

Thank you to my friends John and Jeff for their friendship and riding with me.  Much credit to Dr. Jeff Kontak for planning and logistics, and Dr. John Rigilano for much "reconnoitering" and history lessons along the way.  Great friends and  great fun.  When riding with friends the miles and long days of riding seemed to pass by quickly. We are already talking about our next riding adventure. 
Thank you to Lord Baltimore Lions Club for allowing me the opportunity to raise funds for the Lions Vision Research Foundation at Johns Hopkins, and thank you to all those who have supported this effort with donations.


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