Successful Go Cross Weekend Puts Virginia’s Blue Ridge on International Map

The Roanoke Outside Foundation is delighted to report Virginia’s Blue Ridge Go Cross exceeded expectations on September 17 and 18, 2022. Go Cross, alongside the Anthem GO Outside Festival (coming up October 14-16) and the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon (recently lauded as one of the World’s Hardest Races by Runner’s World), functions as a part of the long-term program to build Roanoke’s brand as an epicenter for the outdoors. By building grassroots events and growing them to surpass international standards, Roanoke Outside is working to develop a culture that people all over the country want to tap into.

Go Cross, a two-day cyclocross event, is designed to test professional cyclists and amateurs alike on a closed-loop racecourse full of obstacles like barriers, stairs, and steep hills. Because the race is situated at Fallon Park, spectators had easy access from downtown Roanoke to come out in full cyclocross spirit: dressed up, ringing cowbells, and enjoying the action.

Women's Elite Champion, Caroline Mani, at the tops of the hill above the Fallon Park cyclocross course.

Women’s Elite Champion, Caroline Mani, at the tops of the hill above the Fallon Park course.

This year, Go Cross upgraded to the top-level sanctioning by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), making it was a “must-do” for all professional cyclocross athletes. It also meant Go Cross was able to fulfill an invitation to join the premiere United States Cyclocross series, USCX, and be broadcast live on Discovery+ and Global Cycling Network to an international audience. The result? Competitors–along with their teams, coaches, and families–traveled from 40 states and three countries to Roanoke. Registration topped out at 858, which was a 25% increase over 2021’s numbers.

Elite cyclocross racers lined up at starting line, waiting for race to begin

                                                                                                                                           Heat map of North America with majority of registrants coming from Mi to North East region of the U.S.

Some racers referred to Go Cross as “the first day of school,” because it was the first event in the 2022 US pro cyclocross schedule. Riders were getting back into the swing of competition and reconnecting for the first time this year. Being positioned first, Go Cross was able to set the bar for the season and create a welcoming first impression to the high-energy cyclocross community. In addition to the races, the event featured hit spectator activities like Doggy Cross, the Beer Mile Relay Race, and the Lil Belgians kids’ race.

White woman with large beige poodle running on a race course

Go Cross also played host to several local businesses like Food Hut Rke, RND Coffee, Cardinal Bicycle, and, new to the region, Trek Bicycle Roanoke. When Trek, the international bicycle brand, purchased East Coaster Bike Shop this summer, one of the first things they did was to reach out and ask, “What can we do for Go Cross?” Then, they came onboard as the Official Bike of Go Cross, contributing support for production of a top-quality broadcast as well as supplies for the event. Trek’s investment in Go Cross is a testament to the growing draw of the region’s outdoor culture.

Roanoke Outside and the team of organizers are excited to have reached the top level of competition within the sport. We are also grateful for the community of local athletes, businesses, and media who have learned to step up and embrace these opportunities to welcome visitors to our region.