Updated 07/14/2011 07:02 PM
Rome welcomes bicycle boom
Hundreds of bicyclists made their way to Rome as part of their whirlwind tour of Upstate New York. Our Sarah Blazonis has more.
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ROME, N.Y. -- After pedaling 250 miles, New Hartford resident Tim Nelson is finally back on his home turf, but says he's nowhere near sick of cycling.
"Everybody's just passionate about bicycling and being out. The trail is just beautiful here in Upstate New York," said Nelson.
Nelson was the first of more than 500 bicyclists to make their way to Rome as part of the 13th Annual Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour. Riders make their way from Buffalo to Albany by following the historic canal, pausing to learn about its origins along the way.
"It's great to know that it really was a huge part of history. I had no idea. And I didn't know it went so far and went through so many towns," said Alli Cropsey, a bicyclist from Altamont, N.Y.
They still have about 150 miles to go before they reach their destination, but bicyclists say the long journey ahead isn't going to keep them from enjoying all Rome has to offer.
Local businesses like Teddy's restaurant say they make it a point to come out to riders' camping spot, Ft. Stanwix National Monument, to help them figure out plans for their visit.
"We come out to greet them. We want to make sure that we do a good job and they become aware of the local area and that maybe they come over and try our restaurant," said Michelle Moran, Teddy's marketing director.
And while some may be in the area just for the day, local bike tour participants can end up being repeat customers.
"Sometimes when they go back home, they come back and visit the China House just because they like the different kinds of food that they offer. They come all the way from New Hartford, from Whitesboro, from Marcy," said Fred Macchia, an employee at China House.
They may be bicycling instead of boating, but businesses say they're excited to experience the rise in business the canal once brought to towns along its banks, even if it's only for a day.