PLATTSBURGH - Michael Deserres of Montreal was most impressed by the people of New York during his 12th V lo Qu bec Voyages Grand Tour.
The Grand Tour, a seven-day cycling vacation traveled through upstate New York for the first time since it began 17 years ago.
"It's a great organization," Deserres said. "It draws in a lot of people."
Deserres, who bikes along the predestined route with his friend, Jean Paul Dupre, said both of them have no particular place to go every year, so they choose to ride along with nearly 1,800 people for nearly 500 miles.
However, the outpouring from the people in the area made this trip different for Deserres.
"The welcoming parties in towns, Beekmantown and other villages, it's been remarkable and it's been different," he said during his stop in Rouses Point Aug. 12. "This is what makes New York state different. The people are alongside the highways and applauding. That's real nice."
Deserres was also surprised by receiving a pamphlet in Rouses Point of places to go and things to see.
"That's unique. That's just so nice," he said. "This is the New York state I love."
Having been traveling to Plattsburgh on and off since he was a child, Deserres noticed it was a different experience from the seat of a bike.
"The Plattsburgh area I've known since I was a boy, so it's like a homecoming to me really," he explained. "It's just good to come back on a bike because there's more time to relax and to see and enjoy."
To bring the Grand Tour to the area, many people from many businesses and organizations had to step up to the place. Food was provided by places such as Smooth Moves, Sodexho, Ground Round and Adirondack Coffee Roasters, while organizations such as the Adirondack Boy Scouts and the Compassionate Friends of Northern New York helped things run along smoothly by unloading luggage and serving food.
Kristy Kennedy, an organizer of the event and a group marketing specialist with the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with how things turned out.
"It was a complete community effort," she said. "Even if it was just something simple like putting a sign in their window or giving me a call, I can't thank everyone enough ... The outpour from the community was just overwhelming."
When V lo Qu bec first announced the Grand Tour would travel through upstate New York, it was estimated participants would spend more than $300,000 in the region, with 83 percent of participants returning in the future.
Kennedy now knows these statistics are true.
"I think the participants loved the area. A lot of them came up to me and said they would be back with their family and so forth," she said. "I can't even complain about anything. It was an amazing experience and it went off better than I could have even imagined."
Although Kennedy doesn't know how much money was spent in the area, she believes it is possible they exceeded the amount expected.
"I just know by people telling me what downtown looked like with the bikes everywhere and cyclists coming up to me at the tourism booth and asking where is the closest bike shop, is there a laundromat, or the beach or where can they go shopping," she explained. " They were just everywhere."
Corinna and Paul Maggy, owners of Mountain Riders, also noticed the people throughout Plattsburgh.
The Maggys worked alongside Kennedy and the Adirondack Visitors Bureau in preparation for the tour, setting up a water station at AuSable Point Campground and volunteering at Clinton Community College, where many of the cyclists slept under the stars.
"It was amazing to see cyclists filling the town. They had a shuttle to the mall, farmers' market, and the beach so it was great for local businesses," said Corinna. "All the restaurants were packed."
Paul agreed, adding throughout their volunteering, they must have spoke to at least 1,200 of the cyclists personally.
For the future, Kennedy said she is more than willing to have V lo Qu bec return to the area.
"We have talked to them and thrown it out there that Plattsburgh would be happy to host again and they seemed receptive to the idea," she said.