FINCASTLE, Va. – Junior team members from Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 have returned to Camp Bethel. This is a diverse team of female pro-cyclists who are attending spring training camp. The team consists of 19 girls ranging from 9 to 17 years old.
All week long they are hitting the roads to train, learn together and experience the area. Education is also an important part of their training. They partnered with local organizations to learn about nutrition, activation and protocols.
The team is also working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to remind drivers to keep an eye out and be patient. VDOT has digital message boards making sure drivers are aware of the extra cyclists on the road.
Nicola Cranmer, the founder of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24, says, “One of the biggest things is when our young athletes are out on the road is for people that are driving just to remember that these are kids. They are very good at staying in formation when they are on a road. We will be based in the Fincastle area, so we will be out that way quite a lot and of course up on the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
During the week, Shelly Olds, who is an Olympian and former team member is running sprint sessions with the girls. Shelley is also the head cycling coach at Roanoke College, so she will be talking to the juniors about the opportunities there.
VBR TWENTY24 has been a team for about 19 years but recently relocated to Southwest Virginia. In the past year, they have been able to partner with a number of local organizations like visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Cranmer says this has helped them feel more integrated into the community.
“The area out of Virginia’s Blue Ridge is actually perfect for cycling. Whether it is road cycling or gravel riding or mountain biking, it has it all. There is an amazing trail infrastructure here and you know a lot of people don’t know about it yet, but we are hoping to change that and bring people to the area,” says Cranmer.
In total, the team has earned 13 Olympic medals with their professional athletes. One of their goals is to encourage more people to get outside and start cycling.
The team is going to be volunteering with low-income families at Morningside Park once a week starting in April. They are going to be teaching children how to ride a bike.