I’ve been unicycling for a little under five years now. I picked it up after meeting my current partner, who is an avid bicyclist. I decided I wanted to get in shape just so I could keep up! Unfortunately, my apartment at the time was pretty cramped, and it was going to be difficult to fit a bicycle in there. A 24-inch unicycle, though, fit just fine! (We’ve since moved in together, and we have room in our garage for all our cycling stuff).
I spend most my time on my 36; I’m primarily interested in riding long-distance and commuting. I do lots of rides along the Erie Canal Heritage Trail nearby, and occasional trips around the Finger Lakes region. I’ve taken a few longer trips (broken into 20-30 mile days): one from Trenton NJ to NYC, and another that took me from Ocean City, MD to Baltimore, MD by way of Wilmington, DE. In 2020, I planned a trip along the lines of Rochester, NY → Buffalo, NY → Fort Erie, ON → Niagara Falls, ON → Niagara Falls, NY → Rochester, NY, but that got nixed due to COVID. Hopefully soon!
Hi Opal! I started riding a year ago and I’m moving to Rochester in summer, let’s definitely meet up then. I have a soft spot for gravel muni, but I do a mix of single track and cycling paths.
Largest wheel I have is a 29 muni, and with that I can ride 10-12 miles in one go, though I spend most of my time on the 27.5. I’d love to explore the Empire State Trail and Erie Canal after I settle in.
I have been looking at the Errie canal heritage trail for a bike trip this year with a friend. We did the Great Allegheny passage last spring and I’m looking to do something different. Is this a trail you would recommend for a multiple day trip?
Hi! Glad to hear you’re coming to Rochester! I love it here; I hope you will, too. Lots of fun places to visit, great festivals every year, beautiful spaces along the canal trail and on the lake-- of the many places I’ve lived, I think I like it here best.
I don’t do muni stuff myself, but I think you’ll find the area amenable. The first place that comes to mind is Tryon Park, which has a few trails for mountain cyclists. The glaciers that gave us the Finger Lakes also gave us some really varied topography, so more good trails shouldn’t be hard to find, especially if you can swing a 30-60 minute drive toward Seneca Lake or the like.
The canal trail is probably my favorite ride on the weekends. From the western end of Rochester out to Pittsford, it’s paved, flat trail with some really nice sights. There’s not much of a wind break in the winter, unfortunately, but spring and summer, it’s the best cycling experience around. As an added benefit, if you ride down to the Pittsford end, you’ll find a unicycle-friendly bike shop (Towpath Bikes), a dairy with some really nice ice cream, and a couple of breweries (if you’re into that).
I mainly stick to the canal trail in the Rochester area, but in the couple of times I’ve ventured past, it’s been pretty nice. Most of the area around Rochester is paved, but once you get out a little further, it’s crushed stone and sometimes packed dirt. But it’s beautiful, if you don’t mind looking at the canal the whole way. We’re up north, so wind is sometimes an issue-- in some areas, there are plenty of trees to protect you, but the state has been doing some tree cutting lately, so you might have a bit more wind and sun than in years past.
A lot of the towns and amenities along the canal were built around the lock system, and aren’t regularly spaced-- they can be six miles apart or thirty miles apart. My partner has ridden the trail, and says the Syracuse-Rome and Lockport-Brockport sections can be pretty remote. So you’ll want to work out your stop points pretty carefully. Many of the organized bike rides along the canal trail plan for 50 to 70 mile days, since it’s nice and flat and friendly.
I don’t ride a lot in the winter. I’m an early bird, so I’d be going to work in the dark, and I don’t think the risks of dark AND slippery AND windy on the roads out here are worth the 2.5 mile ride, especially when you add in the discomfort from the cold. But studded tires might help with the “slippery” aspect.
I think the biggest concern out here is the wind. During the winter, it’s not uncommon to have days where the windspeeds are steady at 20 MPH pretty much the entire day, with gusts going higher. I’m a wimp; a 20 MPH headwind is rough for me, and a 20 MPH crosswind will knock me over. It happens occasionally in the summer, too, but the trees around here do some serious work as windbreaks.
In the end, it’s down your own tolerance and your own preferences. My suggestion would be to ride out your first Rochester winter, just to get a feel for the conditions. If you decide it’s worth riding in the cold, then go ahead and purchase a good winter tire.