ROANOKE, Va. - Virginia's Blue Ridge joined the likes of Vail and Steamboat Springs, in Colorado, during a dinner Tuesday night at the Hotel Roanoke, where the region was designated as a Silver Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association.
The quality of Roanoke's mountain bike trails has long been known to people who live in the region, but now the world will learn what kind of mountain biking the area has to offer.
"I'm here to announce that Virginia's Blue Ridge is IMBA's newest Silver Level Ride Center," said association executive director Dave Wiens, who traveled to the Star City to make the announcement.
Wiens cited the region's vibe as well as the quality of the riding.
"There are great places to eat, great watering holes, other amenities, museums, things to do. You can only ride your mountain bike four to six hours a day, and there's other things that you can do. And Virginia's Blue Ridge and the Roanoke area fits the bill in all of these categories," Wiens said.
Other Silver Ride Centers have attracted as many as 60,000 mountain bikers a year, said Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge. He expects the same will happen here, once the word gets out.
It was also announced that the region will be branding itself as America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
"I think that we are looking at tens of millions of dollars over the next several years that will be coming in as a result of us being America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital," Howard said.
The designation as a Silver Ride Center is the result of more than two years worth of work that involved thousands of man hours of work on local trails by volunteers, said Kristine McCormick, president of the Roanoke IMBA chapter.
In addition, McCormick and others worked on a long checklist to ensure the region would meet the requirements for a Silver Level designation.
"To recognize the volunteers who have literally put thousands of man hours into our trails is pretty big. We're very excited about this opportunity," McCormick said.
Wiens has ridden all over the world. He spent a couple of days riding the trails in Roanoke, including those at Carvins Cove. He came away impressed.
"It's right on par with every place I've ever ridden. So I've had a blast here and I've just scratched the surface of what's here," Wiens said.
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