Advantage

I didn’t take a run yesterday.  Why?  It was raining.  To be precise it was 49 degrees, slight breeze, and less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation an hour.

My passion is cross country skiing.  I am in training for the coming Nordic ski season.  I have skied in worse conditions than that.  In fact one of my most memorable experiences was skiing on a miserable, cloudy day, gliding over firm packed powder snow with the temperature below 20 degrees F.  Along comes a huge eight point buck loping along beside me.  I have also skied in a blizzard in Sandwich, MA.

I didn’t have to do the 10 miles I had planned.  The rain was not freezing onto black pavement.  I have the clothing and protective garb for such conditions right in my locker.  In fact, I could have worn that new high tech long sleeve tee shirt that I got for volunteering at the duathlon on Sunday.  I would not have suffered frost bite.  I would have been fine, but I didn’t.  Now I am kicking myself out of bed and today I am going to do it.

Mother Nature had something to show me yesterday on the Mohawk Towpath Byway, and I didn’t take advantage.

New Venue For Duathlon

View of the Mohawk River from Riverview Orchards

View of the Mohawk River from the transition area at Riverview Orchards.

The Twelfth Annual Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon will be from a new venue this year.  The event scheduled for Sunday morning, October 19, will start at 8:30 AM with a two mile run from Riverview Orchards then transition to a seventeen mile bike ride at the orchard and finish with a two mile run to the finish.  Riverview Orchards is located at 660 Riverview Road, Rexford.

The courses are designed by our veteran participants Tracy Perry and Kristen Hislop who have experience in international multi-sport competition.  The run legs are a relatively flat out and back course and the bike ride is on rolling terrain with a loop that we have used before.  It’s all set within the historic context of the Erie Canal corridor and against the backdrop of colorful fall foliage.

This annual event attracts top local multi-sport athletes as well as recreational runners and bikers.  The first 100 athletes registered receive a high tech moisture wicking t-shirt and other goodies, and awards will be given to the top 3 finishers in each 10 year age group. In addition a gold medal is awarded to  each member of the winning men’s, woman’s, and mixed teams.

Timing is conducted by Finish Right Timing of Saratoga Springs.

Also new this year is a Giffy’s Bar-B-Q chicken dinner for all athletes preregistered by Saturday, October 11, as a post race feed!

“We are very excited about hosting this event at Riverview Orchards,” says Isabel Prescott, owner of Riverview Orchards.  “We have had many festivals, survived many seasons of apple-picking, hay rides and birthday parties, but this is the first time we have had an athletic event.  There will be a fun youth race through the orchards as kids pick apples.  We are looking forward to it.  The event will be first thing in the morning, and by afternoon the orchard will be back to business as usual.”

Proceeds from this event benefit the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, Inc. a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that seeks to increase awareness, enjoyment and linkage of the wide variety of scenic, recreational and historic resources along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal corridor from Waterford to Schenectady.

Restoration

General Store in Vischer FerryHave you seen what is going on mid Byway recently?  This charming building at the corner of Vischer Ferry Road and Riverview Road suffered a great deal of damage in a fire about a year ago.  The current owners have gutted the building and have started to reconstruct for use as a sandwich shop and deli.  Originally built in the early 1800’s as a general store, the building incorporates some striking Greek Revival features.

This will be an excellent example of how to maintain the character of the community, yet updating the building to meet a current need.

Peter Bardunias took this photograph about 2 years ago.  Currently all the windows and the front double door have been removed and made ready for replacement.  The facade is scrapped and being readied for repainting.  Watch the progress as this Byway landmark is restored.

Mohawk Gateway Canal Fest

It is unfortunate that we had to postpone the Mohawk Gateway Canal Festival to next year, August 8, 2015.  Mohawk Gateway Canal Fest logo

Looking forward to next year’s event we will be celebrating the Mohawk Towpath Byway’s tenth anniversary as one of America’s Byways©.  The Festival will take advantage of the permanent docking facility at the Maritime Center that will be complete by then, all activities will be handicapped accessible by then, and there will be more activities to appeal to our participants and their families.

The Capital Region Maritime Center develops and offers programs, services and other activities for youth and the general population related to education, history, recreation, travel and tourism, ecological and natural sciences and maritime occupations.  The facility is located on the banks of the Mohawk River in Alplaus with a commanding panorama of the Erie Canal and our maritime navigation corridor.

The Mohawk Towpath Byway is one of only 150 unique Byways and All American Roads across the country that present the story of the American culture and history. Described as a short Byway with a long history it provides residents and visitors a way to discover the many stories of the only water level route through the Appalachian Mountains.  Stories include the natural history, native people’s stories, early European influences, the Erie Canal, the role our communities played in the westward expansion of the country and Industrial Revolution and continues as a center of invention and innovation.

If you would like to be a part of the planning effort please join us for the next organizational committee meeting 7 PM on August 19 at the Maritime Center. If you have ideas for sponsors for the event please contact the Byway.

Experience the Byway

I swear every day on the Mohawk Towpath Byway is an experience.  Maybe that’s why I am so passionate about this volunteer position.

I walked into Fleet Feet, Albany with two things on my mind: to purchase a new pair of running shoes and to talk to the owners about sponsoring the Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon on October 19, 2014.  While Charles Woodruff combed his inventory to find the shoe to fit my running style he asked me to meet Deena Kastor.  Now for you less pedantic*, Deena Kastor could run the length of the designated Byway route, all 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Deena won an Olympic bronze in Athens in 2004.  Having a chance to chat with Deena was my Byway experience for the day.

Can we build a Byway experience for you?

I think we can!  Whether it is volunteering for a roadside cleanup, cutting back some brush to revel a centuries old limestone wall, listing to a narration on the cell phone based tour, or a formal Erie Canal Experience.  I hope you have more than 2 hours and 20 minutes for your Byway experience, but if you don’t I hope yours is authentic and memorable.

I hope to see you on the Byway.  Come and share your Mohawk Towpath Byway experience right here in our back yard.

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* I like that word, because it has the the “prefix” of “ped” meaning “foot,” although the etymology of the word “pedantic” is entirely different.

Fish Free

Fishing near Ferry Drive, Clifton Park - Photo by Myla Kramer

Fishing near Ferry Drive, Clifton Park – Photo by Myla Kramer

Fish free from the Mohawk Towpath Byway the weekend of June 28 and 29, 2014.  During the last weekend in June you don’t need a license to fish New York’s waters. With the plethora of access points to the Mohawk River and its tributaries the Byway corridor is an excellent place to take advantage of this opportunity.

  • Try fishing for the first time.
  • Haven’t fished in a while? Remember the joy of catching a fish this weekend for free!
  • Take a friend fishing for the first time.
  • Have friend visiting from out of state?  Take them fishing as a novel way to show off the Byway.
  • Take a spouse or significant other fishing.
  • Take the family fishing…and don’t forget the grandparents.

There are several spots that provide good access for those who are physically challenged.  A nationally recognized access point is from Terminal Road in the Town of Halfmoon.  A paved trail leads under the Route 9 bridge for excellent fishing access in deeper waters of the Mohawk River.  There’s a less formal spot adjacent to the Route 146 bridge in Rexford.  Park along the south side of the Schenectady Yacht Club parking lot just off Route 146.  The paved ramp that parallels the approach to the bridge ends at a guide rail right at water’s edge.

Consult the Discovery Guide to the Mohawk Towpath Byway or clicking here for a map of popular places for people to fish.

 

 

Gateway Signs

When we accepted our Scenic Conservation Action Plan it was recognized that the Mohawk Towpath Byway doesn’t have a complete family of signs.

Historic Dunsbach Ferry site Interpretive sign

Historic Dunsbach Ferry site Interpretive sign as installed in the spring of 2009. Photo courtesy of Nelson Ronsvalle.

We do have 5 interpretive signs using a single template.  We have way finding signs that a visitor can follow from one end of the Byway to the other.

Way finding sign erected by NYSDOT in 2006.

Way finding sign erected by NYSDOT in 2006.

We also have some new signs for the self guided cell phone tour of a number of Byway features.

Cell Phone Tour Sign

Signs for the self guided cell phone based tour of our key features.

What we don’t have is a “standard” gateway sign among our municipal partners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we want to avoid is an over crowded roadside sign scape similar to the one entering Clifton Park on Crescent Road. This cluttered collection of signs greets the motorist at the end of the I-87 exit 8 south bound ramp.

DSCN0093A New York State sign standard effectively marks the town boundary, but does not carry a clue to the character of the community.  This sign is located at the Byway’s mid-point on Riverview Road at the Clifton Park – Halfmoon town line.  Halfmoon GatewayA more elegant gateway sign is one welcoming the visitor to the hamlet of Rexford.  The gold lettering on a darker colored background framed in gold colored appointments makes a statement about the community even in an early season snow storm.DSCN0095

Perhaps one of the more tasteful and descriptive signs is the gateway sign that stands where the Cohoes Crescent Road becomes North Mohawk Street in Cohoes.

Gateway sign for Cohoes.

Gateway sign for Cohoes.

This well proportioned sign incorporates a number of unique features including the Cohoes Falls and City Hall architecture. Seasonal accents add a touch of civic pride.

Do we need a “standard” gateway sign or should these signs remain individual and unique, defining the character of the municipality?  We are interested in your thoughts and feedback.  Please add your comments below.