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500 cyclists stop in Rome as they travel along the Erie Canal
ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - The City of Rome played host to 500 bike riders from across the country on Thursday as they traveled along the Erie Canal. The "Cycling the Erie Canal" tour is on the fifth leg of their eight day ride from Buffalo to Albany.
The tour brings cyclists over 400 miles of land along the Canal.
"It's pretty amazing because you have the canal..then the next thing was the railroad, then the throughway and now they have the fiberoptic cable," said bicyclist Paul Mortellaro from Elba New York. "It all follows the same path so you actually see all five of those things as you go along."
Hundreds of tents were pitched at Fort Stanwix for the bicyclists to spend the night and Oneida County Tourism provided a shuttle service to run from the Fort to local restaurants and shopping areas for the visitors to explore Rome.
"Governor Cuomo's a huge supporter of parks and also a huge supporter of economic development," said New York Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Rose Harvey. "He sees how they go hand in hand and that's the point you ride the trail but you go right through Main Street of various communities, cities and villages and when you ride through you stop."
Many cyclists took Day 5's stops to wash off their bike, take a shower, and hang their laundry before going out to local restaurants and explore Rome.
"You know I haven't been to Rome in a long time I used to go out and visit Griffis Airforce Base when that was active and I heard it's changed quite a bit, heard the population is down 15,000 now," said bicyclist Mike Deacy of Tampa, Florida. "We're going to eat and look around and see what's in Rome now a days."
Members of Governor Cuomo's Team New York Administration joined the cyclists to highlight the State Canal System and the Canalway Trail. They also announced the launch of NY Works projects and other economic initiatives in the area.
The cyclists leave Rome for Canajoharie on Friday morning, what organizers say will be the longest segment of their 8 day ride.