The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 35

Ride with Friends
Beginnings are hard. The first time you walk
into a gym or a spin class can produce some
serious anxiety. Fortunately, as interest has
grown locally, opportunities for bicyclists,
from beginners to seasoned road warriors,
have grown as well.
" One of our goals, in general, is to encourage more kinds of people to get on a bike and
experience that, " says Kelsey Harrington, the
General Manager of Downshift, a bike shop in
Roanoke.
Harrington says Downshift has been sponsoring a team that is pretty radical for Southwest Virginia: Downshift WTF. This is a team of
women, trans and fem riders who ride and race

people buying mountain bikes. We also saw an
increase in road bike sales this year coinciding with the
announcement of the Ironman 70.3. "
Ironman 70.3 is an international triathlon race.
It includes a 56-mile-or 90-kilometer-bike race.
Carilion Clinic was sponsoring the inaugural year of
this event in Roanoke this June. However, due to events
surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic, Ironman's first
year in Roanoke has now been pushed back to 2021.
" We're seeing a lot of interest in the Ironman 70.3, "
Wes Best, the co-owner of the East Coasters Bike Shop
on Brambleton Avenue, says. " A lot of folks are buying
road bikes getting ready for that. "
East Coasters opened in Blacksburg in 1974 and
expanded into Roanoke in 1993. Best says their business
has been brisk. He's happy to see biking in the region
finally getting its due.
" Carvins Cove is the centerpiece of off-road riding,
but there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails
outside of the Cove, from Mill Mountain in Roanoke
to Waid Park in Franklin County to the National Forest
that surrounds the area. The paved road riding is world-

FACING PAGE:
It's not only about having a
great bike to ride the roads or
trails - it's also about having
trusted professionals properly
care for your bike, too.

TheRoanoker.com

together while supporting and encouraging
one another.
" The bike industry is traditionally white and
male, and we are getting back to our mission of
inclusivity. We're trying to break down those
walls and make biking less intimidating for
everyone. "
Many of the local bike shops offer storesponsored weekly rides, focusing on different
types of trails and levels of rider experience.
Most stores also sponsor riding teams.
Local groups, like Star City Cycling, Roanoke
Valley Devo and Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists,
sponsor ride groups to build skills and confidence as well as offer challenges to long-time
bikers.
-RB

class. Everyone raves about the Blue Ridge Parkway
which is for sure great but the back roads of Roanoke
County, Franklin County, Floyd County all offer some
really breathtaking beauty, smart route choices and
pretty low traffic. "
All those trails and choices led to Roanoke acquiring
a Silver-Level Ride Center designation by the
International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
Roanoke is the only community on the East Coast to
have such a designation.
" The Ride Center designation means bikers across
the country, and the world, know there are good trails to
ride here, " explains Richard Blackwood with BROC-
Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists, a chapter of IMBA.
BROC, and many other private, municipal and
volunteer organizations put in the hard work over
several years to make the IMBA certification a reality.
" Bikers go to destinations, " Blackwood says. " They're
willing to travel for good rides, good trails and they
have money to spend on bike shops, hotels, restaurants,
breweries and bars. The local municipalities have come
to understand and value that. "
For many in the bike business, it's not just about good
business for them, it's about lifestyle, sustainability and
quality of life.
" No doubt, biking has made my life better, " says
Cody Stallard, with Just the Right Gear, an 18-yearold bike shop located near Carvins Cove. " It's not just
about the money for us. We're contributing to the whole
community. I like to think of it as smiles per hour. " I

MAY/JUNE 2020

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The Roanoker - May/June 2020

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