ROANOKE, Va. – A huge bike race in Roanoke is bringing in tourism dollars and more than 1,000 riders to the Valley.
Now in its third year, Virginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross race starts Saturday morning, showing that the region’s biking culture keeps pedaling.
At the permanent, nearly 2-mile course at Fallon Park, amateur and professional racers will handle obstacles and varied surfaces.
Organizers say the races, food and beer make for a great time for the people who come out to watch for free.
“Some of the obstacles, they’re going to have to get off their bike. There are going to be really tight turns. There are big crashes a lot of times. It makes it really spectator-friendly,” said Julia Boas, Roanoke Outside events manager.
It’s the start of the cyclocross season for professional riders from all over the world. This weekend, riders from half the U.S. states and five other countries will be in town. They’re competing for a $12,650 purse.
The event is putting Roanoke on the map for biking competitions.
“It’s getting us recognized on an international and national level,” said Catherine Fox, with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Along with the upcoming Ironman competition, Fox said it proves the Roanoke Valley can handle large events.
“This puts us on a whole other level from a brand perspective. People understand what it takes to put on an Ironman,” she said.
Races are all day Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The events include a beer relay for adults and free kids races for 2 to 9 year olds. Professional races are at 1:45 and 3 p.m. Visit the official website for more on registration and parking.
The event is sponsored by Deschutes Brewery.