Its been a dream of mine to win bike races, yes...but to be featured on a page of UB's newspapers. Its a pity all other sports get to be seen but its rare to see a cycling story in the columns. So I was quite impressed seeing this article. I've seen this officer many times on her Trek Police bike on campus, quite a thing to do in summer bicycling across New York! Exceptional! Congratulations to Amy Pedlow!
Pedaling from Buffalo to Albany - UB Reporter, August 2007
400-mile bike ride is ’summer camp’ for UB Police Officer Amy Pedlow
By KEVIN FRYLING
If the secret to the right career is doing something you enjoy so much you would do it even if it weren't your job, then Amy Pedlow just might be pedaling down the right track.
As a university police officer who patrols campus on a bicycle, Pedlow can ride as many as 25 miles in a single day. But that hasn't stopped her from setting aside more than a week during each of the past five years to participate in "Cycling the Erie Canal," an eight-day, 400-mile bicycle tour from Buffalo to Albany sponsored by Parks & Trails New York. This year's event was held July 8-15.
"I ride around at work all the time, but it's nothing like this," says Pedlow, who joined University Police in 1995. "This is summer camp for adults...You don't have to go to work; you don't have to clean the house. You just ride all day."
Her participation in the canal tour started soon after she began patrolling campus on a bicycle. "When I got through police bike school, I got excited about riding," she says. "I always had a bike, but I didn't know what 10 speeds really meant until I went to the school. Now I've got one with 24 speeds and I'm changing gears all the time."
This year's tour started out as a hot one—temperatures peaked in the low 90s—but Pedlow says Mother Nature turned down the heat after two days and all the riders had to contend with was a cloudburst that struck after everyone had set up camp in a park in Syracuse.
One of the best parts about participating in the canal tour—beyond the simple pleasures of a long, uninterrupted bike ride—is that it provides a chance to visit historical attractions across the state, she says, as well as opens a route to towns and villages that have fallen off the beaten path. "You can drive from Buffalo to Albany in only about 283 miles on the Thruway," she says, "but the Erie Canal isn't a straight shot; it curves up and around...You're doing about 45 miles a day."
The canal itself is about 363 miles in length, she says, plus there are side trips for those who want to see even more. Pedlow says she's visited the Erie Canal Village and Chittenango Canal Museum, as well as toured the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge between Syracuse and Seneca Falls, taken a boat ride on the Erie Canal in Lockport and spent a night at Fort Stanwix in Rome.
"The scenery's absolutely gorgeous," she adds. "You're not looking at the same boring section of Thruway. It's really beautiful."
In fact, Pedlow recalls a cyclist was once so caught up in the tour's scenic splendor that he missed a turn and fell straight into the historic canal. He wasn't hurt, adds Pedlow, who rides the route as a "bike sag," a member of the support crew who assists riders who encounter problems en route. These generally involve minor mechanical problems, such as flat tires, she says, joking that unplanned dives into the canal are not common.
Pedlow says some of the most fun she has while on the tour comes from meeting the people who turn out to ride. "There are 500 people on this ride," she points out. "You meet people from all over the county." Among the participants in this year's ride were a Boy Scout troop from Maryland and cyclists from as far away as Texas and Alaska. "We had people from South Carolina who were doing the whole ride because they got to bicycle to Niagara Falls," she says, pointing out that many cyclists take an optional ride to the Falls the day before the tour begins. Riders set out from Nichols School in Buffalo.
Several lasting friendships have come out of the tour over the years, Pedlow adds, and seeing familiar faces contributes to the ride's summer camp-like atmosphere. "I actually met one of my very good friends on this ride," she says. "We see each other all the time now."
Another friend from Western New York brought her teenage daughter on several rides, she says, noting that many parents and children take part in the tour, as well as retirees. This year, she brought along an acquaintance who rode the canal with his 12-year-old son. "They weren't sure if they could do it," she says. "They had a total sense of accomplishment...He was saying, 'Can you believe it? We just rode 400 miles.'"
After cycling the canal for five years, Pedlow says coming into Albany after eight days on the road is "no big deal." But she says she felt a true sense of excitement the first time she caught a glimpse of the Hudson River in 2003.
"The first year, definitely," she says. "You think about it the whole drive home."