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Frequently Asked Questions.

We know there’s so much to consider.

You should find the answers to your questions below. If you don’t, contact us.

On the road / General

The 2022 Empire State Ride leaves Wagner College on Sunday, July 23, and arrives in Niagara Falls on Saturday, July 29.

All riders are required to attend a mandatory orientation on Saturday, July 22 at Wagner College.

There are three ways to participate in the 2023 Empire State Ride:

  • Riding from July 22-29 as a weeklong road warrior
  • Riding 500+ miles from anywhere in the country on your own schedule
  • Volunteering to support the riders during their adventure

The enjoyment and safety of our road warriors is our top priority. To support you, we provide the following:

Before the Ride

  • Fundraising tools
  • Training plan and blogs
  • Live Town Halls
  • Private Facebook group

On the Route

  • Rest stops with food, hydration and a restroom every 20 miles
  • Food and hydration on the routes
  • Access to experts: Medical team, athletic training personnel
  • Bicycle checks and basic repairs (complex repairs at the riders’ expense)
  • Scheduled shuttles to assist riders in need on the route
  • Coordination with local emergency services and law enforcement for traffic safety
  • Marked route and signage

At Camp

  • Catered meals including breakfast and dinner in camp and lunches at a rest stop
  • Camp snacks and beverages
  • Personal tent with air mattress and camp chair
  • Camp amenities: Towel service, restrooms/portable restrooms, shower truck
  • Daily camp programming
  • Camp set up and takedown

The Empire State Ride is a 500+ miles ride from New York City to Niagara Falls, New York. Empire State Riders cycle along the Hudson River to Albany and west to Niagara through cities, towns, villages and the open country.

The route is a combination of paved trails, busy streets and rural roads. Our cyclists share the roads with cars, trucks and pedestrian traffic. In past events, the ESR overnight sites have been Somers, Rhinebeck, Albany, Utica, Weedsport and Spencerport. Actual routes and locations for 2023 will be confirmed in early 2023.

  • 6 a.m. — Breakfast at camp
  • 7 – 8 a.m. — Start line at camp
  • 1 – 5:30 p.m. — Rolling finish line at camp. This time at camp is for rest, recovery, hydration, snacks and a shower
  • 3 p.m. — Rest stops close. Cyclists struggling to finish will take the ESR shuttle to camp.
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. — Dinner at camp
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Evening program focused on the mission of ESR and impact of rider fundraising.
  • 8 p.m. — Free time in camp, more rest and recovery

Most cyclists will average 14-15 miles per hour. Some seasoned cyclists will average 18 miles per hour. Weather, elevation and road conditions will slow any cyclist.

The total distance for seven days is 500+ miles. Distances each day vary, and the average distance is 79 miles. The shortest day is between 50 – 60 miles and the longest day is 100 miles. Riding at 14-15 miles per hour on a 78-mile day, equals 5 to 5.5 hours of cycling. Add about 1.5 hours at about four rest stops, and that makes for a 7-hour cycling day from camp to camp.

We allow Class 1, pedal assist e-bike road or touring bike only; no throttle assist allowed. Class 2 and 3 e-bikes are not permitted for our event.  Rider is responsible for charging their e-bike each evening.

ESR is a ride, not a race. Everyone has good days and bad days. Arriving prepared to ride the distance each day is important; however, if you are struggling, you can take advantage of our Empire State Ride support shuttles. They are there to help give you a boost to finish at camp or start the day at one of the rest stops. Daily shuttles are scheduled to meet the needs of the group. In an emergency, riders in need will be picked up and cared for immediately.

Catered camping is the core of the Empire State Ride experience. Our staff sets up and packs away your tent, mattress, chair and provides you with a clean towel every day. Camps are set up at local schools, parks and fairgrounds. Some have access to indoor facilities; some are more rustic. Each camp has a rider reception and services area, tenting area, dining and program tent. Restrooms or portable restrooms, traveling shower truck, bike repair, electronics charging station and power for CPAP machines are also provided.

A shuttle will be provided to and from the designated hotels for those not camping. Riders will claim their luggage at camp and bring it with them on the hotel shuttle. Luggage truck picks up hotel luggage at the hotel every morning. If you choose not to go to the hotel before dinner, please communicate to a staff member so we can make accommodations for your bags. Your bike will need to stay in camp. Please bring a lock for it.

Yes! Licensed massage therapists offer optional massage sessions daily at your own expense. Massages will be offered at 30 minutes for $50 and therapists will be able to accept credit cards. Massage sign-ups will be available at dinner the night before and on a first come first served basis.

Riders can opt to ride one or more days and start from and finish in the cities of their choice along the Empire State Ride route. A $500 per day fundraising minimum applies, plus the registration fee. Please contact Empire State Ride for more information. 

Preparing for ESR

All riders need to arrive at Wagner College on Saturday, July 22. There are two main ways to get to the ESR start line.

  1. Take the ESR charter bus ($75) from Buffalo to Wagner College on Saturday, July 22, 2023.
  2. Travel to major airports, train and bus stations, and drive or get dropped off at Wagner College, Staten Island.

Long- term parking is available at no cost at both Wagner College, Staten Island, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo.

  • Travel direct from Niagara Falls, New York.
  • Join friends and family at Niagara Falls.
  • Book a hotel and take the charter bus back to Wagner College on Sunday, July 30, 2023.
  • Take the ESR charter bus ($75) from Niagara Falls to Wagner College on July 30, 2022.

Getting your bike to and from ESR is each rider’s responsibility. Here is what we recommend:

  • Rack it on your car or a friend or family member’s car.
  • Ship it using BikeFlights
  • Utilize our bike shuttle truck from Roswell Park prior to the event, or back to Wagner College if taking our charter bus on July 30, 2023.

Think of Empire State Ride as three 30-mile rides each day, with rest stops to keep you going. If you head out from camp by 8 a.m., at an average pace of 14-15 miles per hour and add in rest stop time, you can expect to arrive at the next camp around 3 p.m. each day, with time to spare.

A shuttle will be provided to and from the designated hotels for those not camping. Riders claim their luggage at camp and bring it with them on the hotel shuttle. Luggage truck picks up hotel luggage at the hotel every morning. If you choose not to go to the hotel before dinner, please communicate to a staff member so we can make accommodations for your bags. Your bike will need to stay in camp. Please bring a lock for it.

ESR riders may bring two pieces of luggage and a sleeping bag. Luggage is shuttled from camp to camp and to the hotels each day. See above for those staying in a hotel. See the recommended packing information on the website for more details.

ESR will schedule shuttles to assist riders who need a boost. Shuttles can advance riders to the next rest stop or to the lunch stop to start the day with a boost and finish at camp. Shuttles are scheduled for riders staying in hotels. In case of an emergency, ESR will pick you up. In non-emergency situations, riders who are eager to get to the hotel or other destination outside the shuttle schedule should use Uber or Lyft.

The ESR medical team is on hand to evaluate common athletic training and physical therapy issues, and to screen for basic medical treatments and for conditions that might require a telemedicine or in-person visit to urgent care or the emergency room.

ESR will have a team of traveling and local licensed massage therapists for optional appointments at the rider’s expense.

If you have an emergency or see an emergency, call 911 first, and then call the ESR rider help line. ESR has a traveling medical team to help with daily wellness checks, athletic training and physical therapy issues, as well as telemedicine connections to UBMD Emergency Physicians for video exams. ESR will coordinate with riders who need to go to the emergency room or an urgent care center.

The ride happens rain or shine. Please pack with varying weather conditions in mind. In the event of extreme weather, the ESR staff will recommend the best course of action. Extreme heat, high winds and lightning are examples of extreme weather that could be encountered during the week.

A simple answer is to train so that you can ride 30 miles outdoors at a brisk pace without stopping. Ride your bicycle outdoors as much as you can prior to ESR. Get plenty of “seat time” to help your body adjust to the feel of long-distance cycling, including cycling clothing, padded riding shorts, clip on shoes or lightweight flat soled cycling shoes. Learn about personal care products such as Chamois Butter, Desitin and other remedies for chaffing and body endurance issues. Ride with others to get accustomed to group riding, communication, traffic and road hazards. Work with your local fitness center to build strength and endurance. Get your bike tuned and serviced at your local bike shop and get their advice on fitting your bike to you and your dimensions. Join ESR riders and alumni who organize local group rides in your area. Check out the ESR training program on our website.

  • A road bike designed for long distances works better than a mountain or hybrid bike.
  • CPSC helmet (required). Helmets degrade over three to four years, so replacing an older helmet is a good investment. Helmets with MIPS technology are best.
  • Cycling shorts with padding, jersey or sweat wicking shirt and gloves.
  • Cycling shoes and pedals OR general comfortable shoes for platform pedals
  • Bike lights — A flashing bike light significantly increases your visibility on the road. White lights in front and red lights in the back.
  • Saddle bag with spare tubes/patch kit and CO2 inflators or mini pump.
  • Though routes are labeled with signs and arrows, we recommend using a bike computer or GPS to stay on track each day.

Due to the repetitive nature of cycling, a slight misalignment can create inefficiency, pain or numbness. A bike fitting can help correct technique, improve biomechanics and prevent injuries. Most bike shops offer bike fitting services where they will set you up on a stationary trainer and perform measurements, as well as analyze your pedaling and body motion.  

Fundraising & rewards

The deadline for registered riders to meet the minimum fundraising commitment is July 22, 2023.

The minimum fundraising level to participate in the weeklong Empire State Ride is $3,500, which earns you a custom ESR jersey and early bird registration for 2024. Additional rewards are available. Visit our fundraising page to learn more.

Please have donors address the check to “Empire State Ride” and write the participant’s name on the check’s memo line to credit appropriate fundraising account.  The check can be mailed to:

Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
Attn: Empire State Ride
P.O. Box 644
Buffalo, NY 14240

Yes! A toolkit is available on our website, and you will receive frequent communications with fundraising tips leading up to the event.

Fundraising rewards are given out at check-in on orientation day.

Covid-19 safety

Empire State Ride is committed to providing a safe experience for our riders, volunteers, vendors, staff and the communities that welcome us. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test within 72 hours will be required to participate in the Empire State Ride weeklong event. COVID-19 guidance and safety is ever changing, so we will continuously monitor and adhere to the latest New York State CDC guidance for masks, social distancing and other protocols.

At this time, riders must show proof of vaccination or proof of negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before arriving at Wagner College.

Volunteering

Absolutely! Volunteers are encouraged to sign up in the cities that we ride through. Check out our volunteer portal here for the latest or reach out to Ashley.Gracie@roswellpark.org with questions.

Parking is available either on-site or very close to the venue.  Closer to the day of the event, further parking directions and maps will become available, and you will be notified. 

Yes!  Volunteering and cheerleading are always more fun in groups!  If you would like to volunteer as a group at a rest stop for instance, or volunteer with a friend at camp, you are always encouraged to do so.  We just ask that everyone create a profile on our Roswell Park Alliance volunteer website

Sunscreen and a water bottle.

Please dress for the weather, as the event happens rain or shine. Wearing closed toed shoes is important. Work gloves are optional. 

Hospitality will be provided. 

Exact hours will be made available in Spring 2023.  Most shifts will be in the morning in 4-hour blocks from 7 a.m. –11 a.m. or 9 a.m. 1 p.m.  There may be a need for a 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. shift in select cases.

If you are interested in cheering on riders as they roll through town, we will communicate that information as we finalize the route for each day. 

Most volunteer communications will be sent through our volunteer portal.  

If you would like to call the office with questions, you can reach us at 716-845-3179.

Proceeds directly benefit