Biking · Personal Articles

Two photographers on an Erie Canal Bike Ride.

My son Jeff and I just finished a long bike trip on the Erie Canal Trail in upstate New York.  The trail runs for 367 miles across the top of New York.  However, the way we did it, with a few scenic detours, we ended up riding 450 miles.   The trail runs between Buffalo and Albany, mostly along the Erie Canal and thru a lot of pretty farmland and small towns.  Jeff seriously took pictures and got an amazing amount of really original shots.  Fred was more lazy and got mostly so-so pictures to remember the places we rode thru.   Below is a quick overview of our trip and a few of Jeff’s remarkably good pictures.

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Fred on the first day of our Erie Canal trlp about 20 miles from Buffalo.  We are still basically in the Buffalo suburbs before we hit the upstate farm country on the second day.

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Fred, west of Buffalo.  Once we got out of Buffalo and past Lockport, upstate NY was beautiful, green farm country with lots of red barns.

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Jeff in a small town with the Erie Canal  in the background.  About a third of the trail was paved like it is here.  The rest was packed stone dust.

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This is one of the hundreds of small farms we rode by.  This shot was taken on a side trip we took from the Erie Canal down to the Finger Lakes area.  This is a very small farm road with almost no cars.  Rain is coming.

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Lockport on the second day of the trip.  I’m without my heavy bike saddlebags here.  Most evenings, after arriving at our motel or campsite, we unloaded our bikes and rode around for an hour or two.

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Jeff slicing sausage for lunch.  Sausage, crackers and cheese was our standard lunch on the trail.  Not too healthy but lots of carbs which we really needed.

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We shared the roads with Amish farmers along one part of the trail.  We are off-trail here on a long section of road with cars, trucks and horse drawn wagons.   The Erie trail is not all bikes only.  We rode in traffic for about 100 miles.

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We rode by many, many beautiful small farms.  This one, with its red barn, white silo and blue sky seemed to represent the rural, American ideal.

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When we rode the trail for two weeks in early May, it was definitely dandelion time.  It was also baby Canada Goose time.  We probably saw 400 tiny fluffy baby geese on the trip.  They were in every little pond and stream along the trail.

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An abandoned barn west of Utica.  We were really flying here, with a 20 mph tailwind.  We made a lot of miles that day.

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Birds sillouhetted in the sky.  We weren’t sure what kind of birds they were.   If anyone knows what they are, let us know and we’ll get them named.

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A drydocked tug boat along the canal.  We saw very few boats on the canal as we were doing the trip about two weeks before the season really started.

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This is a bridge across the Niagara river with Canada on the other side.  Jeff can make a beautiful picture out of anything.  All I saw was an ugly, old, commercial bridge.

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Morning light on a church in Schenectady NY on the last day of our trip.  Just after the church we had a great breakfast in an old Italian bakery and cafe that was one of the best places we found on the trip.

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Wall in a coffee house and cafe in Utica NY.  We found a wealth of great coffee houses and diners and ethnic restaurants all along the trip.  We spent a lot of time hunting out and enjoying these places.

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This is a piece of one the Erie Canal Locks where we camped one night.  Again, Jeff has by far the best eye in this photography business.  He is a far more talanted photogapher than I ever was.

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Old abandoned silos along the trail.  Again Jeff made a great picture out of something that I didn’t look at twice.  And then there was the fact that the saddle bags and sleeping bag on the back of my bike made it harder and harder to dismount my bike as the trip went on.  By this point in the trip it was easier to just straddle my bike and wait for Jeff to take the picture that to lift my leg four feet off the ground, swing it over my saddle bags, get my camera out and take the picture.  As you can see, great pictures are not all about inspriation and art.

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Detail of a canal lock along the trail.  This kind picture is something Jeff does really well.  The picture is not about subject matter, but about space and line and form and composition.  It also has a sense of mystery about it that seems to typify the way many of us feel about life.  It is more of an art picture that a scenic picture.

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A tunnel along the trail just before Albany on the last day of the trip.  We went through this tunnel not too long after we left Schenectady where we met a biker on his way to work at the local GE plant. This guy happened to be a lawyer.  We met dozens of other people on the trip who ranged anywhere from temporarily homeless guys to computer engineers to diner owners.  Every one seemed to want to know what those heavily loaded bikes were all about and where we were coming from and where we were going.

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This is in Syracuse.  We never did pay to park.  Syracuse was a tough city to get through as there is no dedicated bike trail through the city.  There is a bike route through mostlly quiet streets but it was a little nerve racking.  For me, that is. Stuff like this never bothers Jeff.  This was definitely a old man / young man trip.  Jeff was the bold adventurer and leader.  I was the cautious follower.

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Same place in Syracuse.  Another coffee house and another good Jeff picture.  This one is shot through an artsy stained glass window.

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All photographs by Picture by Hanselmann Photography. 

A small memorial garden along the trail.  All the flowers everywhere were in bloom when we rode the trail and we were constantly surrounded by green fields, brilliant flowers and mostly blue skies.

Fred Hanselmann, Hanselmann Photography, May 2016

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