Ironman Founder Bringing Centurion Cycling to Lake George
Cyclists and local officials – which, in many cases, were one in the same person – turned up at the Fort William Henry hotel early one Sunday this spring to welcome Centurion Cycling to Lake George.
The three-day event, which is scheduled to be held in Lake George in June of 2012, is expected to bring thousands of cyclists and their families to the region.
“Lake George will never be the same,” said Tim Hyland, Centurion’s Race Director.
Less than two years old, the Centurion cycling series was founded by Graham Fraser, best known in the Adirondacks as the creator of the Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid.
The Centurion series includes events in Colorado, Wisconsin and Ontario and now Lake George.
“We have a year to build the event and make it a destination,” said Fraser. “Today, we’re here to get the message out, to explain why we’re coming to the Lake George. We want to help create a new economy. It’s a battle worth fighting.”
Fraser said he has been in “the event business” since 1986, starting with the triathlons he organized in his native Canada. In 1999, he formed Ironman North America, launching Ironman Lake Placid that year; other Ironman events around the country followed. He sold the Ironman brand to World Triathlon Corporation in 2009.
With Centurion, Fraser hopes to do with cycling what he did with triathlons: create a national brand with uniform standards that will attract amateur athletes of every ability.
“We produce an event that looks like the Tour de France, but it’s for everyone. Riders ride, racers race. For those who want to compete, we create a platform. But we also have 25-mile rides – almost anyone can do that. We have rides for kids. And we’ll kick off the event on June 22 with a mountain climb, a ride up Prospect Mountain,” said Fraser.
The Fort William Henry will serve as the event’s host hotel. Cyclists will depart from the Beach Road parking lot, where manufacturers will also set up displays.
Prominent features of Centurion cycling events include the merchandise expos, entertainment and the participation of charitable organizations, said Fraser.
“We create the event and the charities build upon it to raise money for their cause,” said Fraser.
Organizations can host hospitality tents, sponsor teams and solicit donations for every mile cycled.
“We’ve seen millions raised; it can happen,” said Fraser.
While the economic impacts of the events can be significant, “the best part of this career is seeing people get fit, who then influence others,” said Fraser.
According to Michael Consuelo, the executive director of the Lake George Regional Chamber Commerce and its Convention and Visitors Bureau, Centurion has proposed to stage the event in the Lake George region annually for at least five years.
“Through our partnership with Centurion Cycling, we have a great opportunity to showcase our area as a premier cycling destination and present all that Lake George and Warren County have to offer,” said Consuelo.
“Our goal is to provide an unparalleled athlete experience for our participants, something they can’t get anywhere else,” said Race Director Tim Hyland. “Now let’s ride.”
With that concluding remark, dozens of cyclists set off on the 50-mile preview of the Lake George Centurion.