SARANAC LAKE - A bike race right through this village's downtown - that's what a group of three men from Team Placid Planet proposed to the village board Monday night.
The board gave preliminary approval to the race on June 14, a Sunday. Some details still have to be worked out, but this approval lets the organizers line up other needs, such as insurance and USA Cycling approval.
The race would be a "criterium," meaning a bicycle race of multiple loops around a course on public roads closed to other traffic. This course would be about as urban as one in the Adirondacks can get: from the Harrietstown Town Hall up Main Street and Broadway, left on Dorsey Street and left again on LaPan Highway, back to the Town Hall.
This map shows the course of a criterium bicycle race planned for Saranac Lake on June 14.
(Map provided by Team Placid Planet)
There would be 10 races of multiple loops each, and the event would last all day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The course would be closed to cars and trucks during this time, except that LaPan Highway - part of state Route 3 -would be only partly blocked, allowing two-way car traffic.
The Saranac Lake criterium would follow another bike race the day before in Wilmington. The Wilmington race was held last year and had about 150 cyclists, said Hal Schmidt, who led Monday's presentation by Team Placid Planet, of Placid Planet Bicycles in Lake Placid.
Now the team is expanding the event to two days to make it more worth cyclists' while to travel to the Adirondacks from all over the Northeast. Schmidt said he expects 150 to 200 cyclists this year.
"Coming up for one day is not quite as attractive as coming up for two," Schmidt said.
Village board members said Sunday is the best day of the week for the criterium, since downtown traffic is light anyway. Schmidt said that while the race wouldn't have much affect on stores, since most would be closed, his team hopes that restaurants would see many extra customers as participants, their friends and family members, and spectators spend the day downtown. He said most participants would probably stay in Saranac Lake hotels as well.
There would be a range of races for different levels of cyclists, including children, older adults and professional racers.
From the village, race organizers would need an ambulance and a couple of emergency medical technicians standing by, about 25 hay bales to protect their signs on the course, permission to use the village office as a registration station in case it rains, and a couple of police officers to direct traffic.
Schmidt recalled that Saranac Lake has successfully hosted bicycle races in the past, including the Cloudsplitter race. The course of this criterium has been used before, as well as a course that went out farther on LaPan Highway, connecting to Broadway via Olive Street.
"It's an ideal place for a race," Schmidt said. He anticipated "a fair-type atmosphere along Main Street."
Trustee Susan Waters expressed some worry about the race taking over downtown for an entire day, but nevertheless, the board's approval vote was unanimous.
Contact Peter Crowley at (518) 891-2600 ext. 22 or pcrowley@