Make a weekend of it.

The Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium is bringing some of the best professional cyclists around to the heart of Roanoke on May 21.

It’ll be a weekend of fast-paced bike action paired with plenty of fun for spectators. You can watch the races, take part in a Beer Mile or Adult Big Wheel Race, and join the after-party for the Night Rider’s Ball at Martin’s Downtown. There will be live music, a bike expo and beer garden as well.

If you haven’t been to a criterium, or crit, before, it’s been compared to NASCAR on two wheels. The race is a high-energy cycling event that is designed to provide spectators with one heck of an evening of fun. Professional road cyclists traveling in a tight pack, will race lap after lap through the streets of downtown, each jockeying for the lead. A pack of riders will zoom by your watching point, but don’t blink — they’ll pass by again in about 90 seconds.

So why not come to Roanoke for the weekend? (And don’t forget to bring your bike and experience some of the best cycling on the East Coast while you are here.)

Here’s an idea of what you can do: http://www.vbrcrit.com/event-schedule/

  • Friday evening: Check in to your hotel and head downtown for a local beer at Soaring Ridge or Big Lick Brewing. Both breweries offer craft beer made on site, have food trucks parked outside and live music.
  • Saturday (or Sunday) morning: Grab your bike or rent one locally at Roanoke Mountain Adventures or UnderDog Bikes and experience firsthand the incredible riding of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
    • Head to Carvins Cove – 2nd largest municipal park in the U.S. – and ride the 60+ miles of singletrack. Join local IMBA riders for an intermediate ride at Carvins Cove.
    • Take a spin on the Blue Ridge Parkway or the new local L’eroica Ride.
    • If you’re looking for something a little more low key, hop on the Roanoke River Greenway and enjoy the various pit stops you’ll encounter (climbing gym, ice cream, restaurants, shopping, coffee, etc.
  • Saturday 3:30 p.m.: Grab your team and see if you can finish 6 laps the quickest in the Adult Big Wheel Relay Race.
  • Saturday 4:30 p.m.: Lace your shoes and participate in the Roanoke Valley Beer Mile. In addition to a quick run and beer, the top finishers (male and female) earn cash prizes of $500 each!
  • Saturday 5:30 p.m.: Live music kicks off on the Martin’s Outdoor Stage with crowd-pleasing favorites such as Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and DJ Williams Projekt.
  • Saturday 6 p.m.: The main event gets underway, starting with the master’s race (35+), followed by the women’s and men’ events.
  • Saturday Later Night: Stay downtown for the Night Rider’s Ball that’s part of Bike Month. Admission to the event at Martin’s Downtown is $15. Ride your bike and admission (and valet parking) is free. Anyone who participates in the Clean Commute Challenge in May can also get in free.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium