In 1976 the United States Olympic Cycling Trials were held in Saranac Lake from June 2 through June 7 with SUNY Plattsburgh and Paul Smiths College serving as training sites. Sixty of the the country's elite cyclists gathered at Paul Smith's College. The trials consisted of four races totaling 402 miles. Top amateur cyclists from across the United States competed in groups of fifteen with a total capacity of sixty per race. The races included an arduous 117 mile trek and a 65 mile criterium race that ran through Saranac Lake's downtown. Both races were won by Chicago, Illinois's Mike Neel. Neel bested the competition with a time of 4 hours 32 minutes and 22 seconds in the longer race and completed the criterium in 2 hours 21 minutes and 32 seconds. In the shorter race Neel paced himself, allowing others to lead, and finished with a burst of speed in the final two laps. Eight cyclists were selected to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in nearby Montreal.
The criterium loop course began on the LaPan Highway then traveled on Ampersand Avenue to Broadway winding through downtown past Harrietstown Town Hall. The turn past the Town Hall back on to the LaPan Highway required skill and caution by the ambitious cyclists. Cyclists covered this short 2.5 mile loop twenty-five times. The course for the longer races left the village via Forest Home road and passed through Wawbeek and Saranac Inn as well as Fish Creek and Lake Clear heading back to Saranac Lake at Donnelly's Corners. An intermediate length race followed a similar route leaving Forest Home at McMaster Road and also returning via Donnelly's Corners.
The program logo was designed by Kitty Archie of Saranac Lake and the event was co-sponsored by the Town of Harrietstown and the United States Olympic Committee.
The 1976 Trials attracted not only the best cyclists in the United States but elite riders from all over the world. Since access to training centers in and near Montreal was limited, Saranac Lake welcomed international teams. England's highly rated Viscount Conventry Olympic Bicycle Racing team toured the U.S. and participated in Olympic Developmental races held in conjunction with the U.S. trials races. The British team contained four individual champions including Mick Bennett, a previous winner of the silver and bronze medals and the captain of the team. A fifteen man team from Canada also participated in the trials races.
- "British Olympic cycle racing team en route to Saranac Lake." Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Saranac Lake, N.Y. May 27, 1976
- Cohen, Steve. "Neel wins two straight; Selections made today." Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Saranac Lake, N.Y. June 1976.
- McLauglin, Bill. "Saranac Lake makes ready for Olympic Bicycle trials." Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Saranac Lake, N.Y. March 11, 1976.
- "Plans finalized for Olympic Cycling Trials." Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Saranac Lake, N.Y. May 4, 1976
See also Sports