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Move your FANY

Local woman organizing 10th 500-mile bike ride

Long before riders mount their bicycles in Niagara Falls, a 500-mile journey across New York gets its start in the hamlet of Delmar, in the mind of Karen Empie.

She's been organizing the Five Hundred Miles Across New York Rideor, The Great Big FANY Ride, as it is colloquially known for 10 years now, and at the end of July she and more than 100 others will start off in the western extreme of the state for an annual weeklong journey back to Saratoga Springs.

"I love biking in New York State. We have incredible scenery, unique scenery," Empie said. "It's like seven completely different rides. Each day is different and it has its own character."

That's because she plans the route to take in the diversity of the state. The fact the ride is 500 miles means it does a fair amount of winding about " it's only about a 300-mile trip via the Thruway, after all. Riders have made their way through Letchworth State Park, wine country, spent the night in Watkins Glen and, of course, toured parts of the expansive Adirondack Park.

They pack along tents and camping gear, though some elect to spend the night in hotels along the way. Delmar resident Rick Bird said the ride is always pleasant because it changes each year, and because Empie has a knack for finding eclectic stops, even in the rural countryside. Riders toured the Jell-O museum in Le Roy last year, for example.

"Karen takes us through some parts of New York state that you just don't see unless you happen to be a local living in the area or on her rides," Bird said. "I have no idea how she finds them, but they're just pristine areas with little or no traffic."

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