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Try cycling along New York's historic canals

Imagine a romantic and adventurous tour of New York state's canal system without leaving dry land.

That's what hundreds of cyclists will be enjoying when they take part in the fifth annual Cycling the Erie Canal event scheduled for July 6 to July 13. The eight-day, 400-mile, cross-state recreational bicycle tour runs from Buffalo to Albany along the historic, scenic and still-active Erie Canal.

The tour — which is limited to 400 cyclists and last year drew riders from 28 states — passes through historic canal villages and rural countryside. Along the way, historians and local experts will introduce the riders to the people, places and things that made the Erie Canal so unique in its day and so important to the history of New York state.

Other enjoyable ways to enjoy your ca-nal visit can include forays into:

• Fishing — Cast your line into calm canal waters and compete in the exciting Erie Canal Fishing Derby in Albion scheduled for July 7 to July 20.

• Festivals — Seneca Falls also features a Waterfront Festival and Cardboard Boat Race and a Fresh Herb and New Wine Festival.

• Boating — Take in the annual Tug Boat Round-Up in Waterford from Sept. 5 to Sept. 7, the Genesee River Canoe Regatta on Sept. 20 or the Electric City Canoe Races on July 20.

• Art — See the Rome, N.Y., Taste of the Arts Festival, the Cornhill Arts Festival scheduled Sept. 20 and Sept. 21.

• History — Along the Oswego, you can enjoy Fulton's Canal Heritage Days on July 13 or you can join the annual Convention Days Celebration of the First Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls from July 17 to July 19.

A canal visit can be an especially great way for travelers to nearby New York City to unwind for a while. You can try your hand at captaining your own boat or ride your bike along the more than 230 miles of Canalway Trail. For more information, call 1-800-4CANAL4.

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