Centurion set to tackle area roads 0
Centurion Canada 2012 runs from Sept. 14 to 16 at Blue Mountain. Photo contributed by Centurion Cycling.
Clear a path because more than 4,000 bike riders are expected to take to the road this weekend.
The 2012 Centurion Cycling Canada runs from Sept. 14 until 16 at the Blue Mountains. This event is the final leg and the championship of a four-part Centurion series that has been running throughout the summer. Prior events were Lake George, NY, Horseshoe Valley, Ont. and Ellicottville, NY.
The event has a 40-kilometre race, 81-kilometre race, 161-kilometre race (century race or 100 miles), Kid's Ride, and the Timex Vertical Challenge up Scenic Caves Road – which will be televised by TSN. There are awards for each age category and all levels of experience are encouraged to participate.
“Centurion, to me, number one is a means to get people outdoors, being fit, improve their health, and just having a great athletic experience,” said Centurion founder and CEO Graham Fraser.
The 51-year-old has organized more than 300 sporting events, including creating Subaru Ironman Canada and Ironman North America.
Fraser said he recognized that marathon runners and triathletes were aging, which opened up the need for competitions in a lower-impact sport.
“I looked at it from a personal point of view, I'm in that age group where you still want to be an athlete, you want to be out there pushing yourself, and you want to be out training everyday. Cycling is a great way to do it,” he said. “You don't get as many injuries, and it's something that everyone can do.”
The event has grown from about 1,200 riders to an expected 4,000 to 5,000 riders, making it the second-largest cycling event in the country – the biggest is the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
The course will take riders about five to eight hours to complete, in comparison to an Ironman which takes between 10 and 17 hours. “But, when you are on a bike ride you can push yourself as hard as you want. I think for a lot of people that I have met, who have never done this before, it is their Ironman.” said Fraser.
He said people have different reasons for getting involved, but mostly it is to have a good time.
“The Centurions are a fun event. People finish the event and they are smiling and laughing ... It's a little more of a sane event.”
Collingwood Cycling Club member Nancy Newman said she enjoys the Centurions because they are fun and they allow her to gauge her skill level.
Newman has had a successful series in terms of results. She won the woman's division at Lake George and Horseshoe Valley, and placed second in Ellicottville.
“It has sort of surprised me,” said Newman, who only began biking four years ago.
Newman said she is looking forward to the upcoming event because it has more hills than previous courses and she excels at the climb. She was crowned “Queen of the Mountain” at the last three events.
“I'm better on the uphill than on the downhill, takes me longer to get down.”
She is also looking forward to the 'home-field' advantage.
“The Collingwood one is different in that there are so many locals that come out to support us – along the way, at the start, and at the finish. It is really fun to have people you know cheering you on and it's really fun to have so many of my friends riding in it.”
The social aspect is what draws Newman to the sport. She rides with the club, even through the winter using her Fat Bike, a bike with large tires that allow for year-round riding.
Jody Wilson, another local Centurion participant and Collingwood Cycling Club board member, said the Centurions “sparked interest” in cycling for a lot of people in the community.
The club was formed back in the spring and the eight board members expected about 50 members, but ended up with 350.
“A lot of our members are local, bu it's like skiing, a lot of them come up on weekends to ride,” said Wilson.
He said the club has been training together for this event by practising the course and pairing up groups of riders.
The club won the Horseshoe Valley club challenge and placed third at Ellicottville.
Wilson said his personal goal is “just to finish it safely and have a good time.”