ROANOKE, Va. – An extreme mountain biking competition has made the Star City feel more like Cycle City this weekend.
The Virginia's Blue Ridge Go Cross Race pitted cyclists against one another in a course at Fallon Park. Hundreds of racers and cycling enthusiasts came to Roanoke to compete and enjoy the festivities.
"I spent a six-hour drive to come up here," said Mike Albaneso, a veteran cyclocross racer from Georgia. "You get here and see this kind of energy. You just have to do it."
The racers competed in cyclocross, a variation of road cycle racing that takes place on a pop-up course. Albaneso says the challenge is not just the terrain of the Roanoke Valley, but the surprise of the course layout.
"It's only there for the moment," Albaneso said. "You can't go ride the course again until they set it back up. Once they take down all the tape, the course goes back to being a park or whatever it was beforehand."
Although many visiting cyclists came to Roanoke, many local cyclists, including Earl Smith, competed in the event.
"Whenever I started riding on the road, I was welcomed so freely into the riding community in Roanoke," Smith said. "It just lit a spark that has consumed my free time ever since."
Smith won one of the races he competed in. He says the Go Cross Race shows Roanoke is ready to embrace its cycling culture.
"This is a fantastic event for us to put on," Smith said. "It's really hard when you're out there racing, but all of us riders are really appreciative of the community."