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Cyclists converge on Canal Fest

Mark Kozak and his daughter Kasia, 15, decided to take a little trip.

They would travel 400 miles in eight days along the Erie Canal, making stops at various cyclist-friendly tourist attractions during the annual Canal Fest.

On day seven of their journey, Saturday, July 12, the Kozaks stopped at Rotterdam Junction's Mabee Farm Historic Site.

They'd been traveling 40 to 60 miles per day on bike paths along the Mohawk River, resting in places like Syracuse and Canajoharie and meeting other cyclists along the way.

At the Mabee Farm, the Kozaks were huddled over a table of food energy bars and apples and energy gels marked with a "cyclists only" sign.

Mark Kozak calls himself a cycling hobbyist who shares similar enthusiasm for state history, especially the history of the Erie Canal.

"I'd always been interested in Erie Canal history, and I'd gone up and down the bike path about 100 miles in either direction, but I'd never done the whole thing," said Kozak.

Daughter Kasia said it wasn't as much the exercise of cycling that interested her, but the sites along the way.

"I've enjoyed the different museums, and Erie Canal village, and the beautiful river," said Kasia Kozak.

Traveling along the river, the Kozaks, along with hundreds of other cyclists WHO rolled into Rotterdam on Saturday and Sunday took nearly the same path as boats traveling east and west on the famed Erie Canal, which opened in the fall of 1825 connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

Before the opening of the canal, those wishing to venture west had to brave the swift, shallow waters of the Mohawk River.

The canal opened regions in the west to increased settlement, and was a prime factor in the rise of New York City as the chief port of the U.S.

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