5 Questions with Downshift’s W/T/F Cross Team

cyclocross team roanoke

The W/T/F Cross team is already amped for GO Cross.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross Presented by Deschutes Brewery is Sept. 1-2 at Fallon Park. Cyclocross can be described as a bike race in a steeplechase format with riders that hop on and off bicycles while leaping over barriers and sloshing through mud, navigating gravel pits, stairs, and barriers.

W/T/F Cross is an amateur women’s cycling team promoting the inclusion of women/trans/femme athletes in biking through a radically encouraging and supportive environment. They get together for rides and support in learning what cyclocross is all about. (It can be somewhat intimidating for beginners.)

Here’s more about the team from members Devin Johnson and Kelsey Harrington.

Johnson got involved with W/T/F Cross because of her passion of women’s advocacy and intersectional representation in outdoor recreation and has experience climbing and mountain biking. “Our mission is to create a radically supportive environment for a different type of cycling team to emerge,” she said. “We’re here to start changing the narrative.”

You might know Harrington from Downshift, which sponsors the team and hosts rides from the downtown location: “I love biking, and I love being on a team. I care about changing the landscape of cycling to one that encourages broader participation from people who wouldn’t typically pull on some lycra.”

wtf cross team roanoke

5 Questions with Downshift’s W/T/F Cross Team

How did the idea for W/T/F Cross develop and come to fruition?

If we’re looking for something in our community to be a part of and it doesn’t exist, we believe in creating it. Cyclocross is a fun sport but is difficult to learn on your own.

As a staff, we decided we needed to create a welcoming, fun, inclusive women/trans/femme team to learn new cycling skills and support one another in that effort. Through connections at Downshift, we identified some early adopters, hosted an informational meeting and went from there. Luckily, we are not the first ones to create a bike team, and W/T/F is a growing cycling movement. Through blogs and other online resources, we were able to dive into the process quite seamlessly.

Who can participate? (And why should they?)

Anyone who identifies as women/trans/femme or otherwise and feels they should be a part of this team should. Beginners, experts and bike-curious folks alike can learn something from our team. We are a CYCLING TEAM. We care about doing things on two wheels. We do not just focus on cyclocross but also on mountain biking, road riding, and even commuting. If you are looking for a supportive group of people to help you discover your love of bicycling, then you should absolutely explore being a part of our group.

What if you have never been on a bike? Is W/T/F Cross for you?

Honestly, getting on a bike for the first time is not easy and cyclocross practice may not be the perfect place to start. But our team is willing to help anyone on their own journey. We would ride with you to work for the first time; we would help you ride on the Greenway, we would do what it takes. If you’re willing to be a part of our team, then we’re willing to help you out. Empowered women empower women.

How often do you get together? (Where can people find events?)

Formal practice is every Wednesday at the Fallon Park course to work on CX specific skills, but as a team of friends with a collective mission of Radical Encouragement, we make sure to share our weekly cross training plans in our Facebook and Strava groups. We have roadies, mountain bikers, runners, yogis, and climbers on the team – there’s always somebody up to something and genuinely stoked for others to tag along.

Downshift offers a low key no-drops group ride from the shop every Monday at 6. It hits around 13 miles of greenway (with a bit of road riding to and from the shop) for all levels but entirely accessible for beginners. It’s a great way to ride socially and get some extra miles in without feeling the intimidation factor of a serious workout. Devin also offers a free yoga class at Downshift Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.

Originally, we thought it would just be a way to offer more cross training and team bonding- but we realized if we’re making time and space for a formal class with a 200H RYT leading, we might as well make it open invite. Every Body and every skill level is welcome. Tips are encouraged but we don’t want money to be what holds anyone back from being involved. Contact Kelsey Harrington at kelsey@downshiftbikes.com for more information.

What race goals do you have for the team?

Our race goals are to be there, be represented, be counted, and inspire others to participate as well. We want our community to get out of their comfort zones, so we have a huge excel file of upcoming races and rides. As a team, we’re amping people up to register for races outside of our area and go further and faster than they thought they could before. We’re not focused on the podium.

GO Cross

  • When: Sept. 1-2
  • Where: Fallon Park
  • Schedule: Online
  • Cost: Free for spectators
  • Registration for riders: Online, women race free (register by Aug. 29)