Lap after lap, a pack of professional cyclists zoom by, weaving through the streets of downtown Roanoke, carrying corner speeds that teeter on the edge of crash and win! That’s the skill and excitement on display during a criterium, or crit, and the Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium brings that exhilaration to downtown Roanoke on Saturday, May 21st.

Our Downtown Twilight Criterium gathers cyclists from around the country to compete on the streets of Roanoke for a total purse of $15,000!

Packs of 100 or more professional riders will race in short laps through the downtown area. The masters division (age 35+) begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by the professional women's race at 7:00 p.m. and the professional men's race at 8:30 p.m.

Spectators can expect to see riders speed by every 90 seconds and get close enough to the course that they’ll feel like a part of the action. 

Intrigued? Why not make a day of it! Virginia’s Blue Ridge offers visitors an incredible amount of variety to experience in just one Saturday!

Start your Blue Ridge Day with an early morning hike on the Appalachian Trail. Dragon’s Tooth is a short drive from downtown Roanoke and offers hikers a relatively quick, but challenging hike.

After tromping through about 1.5 miles of well groomed trails and stream crossings, the last 0.7 miles of the hike is where the climbing begins. Large rock outcroppings require a fair amount of bouldering and at times hikers are provided u-shaped iron bars embedded into the rock to get them up and over the feature. If all this sounds challenging, it is! 

However, the payoff is a spectacular view of the valley, capped by a unique Tuscarora quartzite monolith projecting 35 feet above the surrounding rock. Hence the trail name, Dragon’s Tooth.


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Following your hike on the A.T., head back to downtown Roanoke for a recovery breakfast at Scrambled inside Roanoke’s historic City Market Building. Enjoy a fast casual breakfast, featuring all the favorites you’d expect on a tried and true breakfast menu. 

Scrambled is open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays, so take your time and enjoy the scenery on your drive back to downtown Roanoke. Your breakfast will be waiting for you!

By now, you’ve had a chance to get to know Roanoke and it’s time to get to know Roanokers. The 26th annual Festival of Local Colors celebrates the cultural diversity of the Roanoke Valley and gathers more than 10,000 people of all nationalities and backgrounds to Elmwood Park. More than 100 countries are represented during the day-long festival, with one country celebrated as the feature country. 

Local Colors Festival

This year’s featured country is Colombia! The event opens at 11:00 a.m. with the parade of colors and the National Anthem, performed this year by the U.S. Navy Band. Throughout the day performances of all types are showcased on the Elmwood Park amphitheater stage, while representatives from the various countries prepare authentic traditional dishes for you to try!

As the afternoon wanes, a short walk to quench your thirst and enjoy some local craft beers may be in order. From the market, Big Lick Brewing Company is only a couple blocks walk to the Salem Avenue location. 

As Roanoke’s only Nano Brewery and taproom, Big Lick Brewing prides itself on quality and variety. The taps change every week, so you’ll likely enjoy a brew you’ll never have again!

Big Lick Brewing Company

Be sure to make your way over to Martin’s by 3:00 p.m. to get your Downtown Twilight Criterium experience started with the Adult Big Wheel Relay Race. (Yes, you read that correctly.) 

Hosted by Play Roanoke, organizers ask you to imagine yourself cruising around downtown with the wind in your hair, riding low on a Big Wheel. Your childhood memories can be relived at the first ever Adult Big Wheel Crit! 

Registration starts at 3:00 p.m. for the Big Wheel relay race, featuring teams of 1-6 racing through the streets of Roanoke. The first team to complete 6 laps on the closed quarter mile course will be crowned winner and Big Wheel Champ. And don’t forget, team costumes are strongly encouraged!


A photo posted by PlayRoanoke (@playroanoke) on

Now that you’re warmed up, follow up that epic Big Wheel Relay Race, with the Roanoke Valley Beer Mile, organized by RunAbout Sports. If you’re unfamiliar with the Beer Mile, here’s how RunAbout explains it: 

Chug a beer, run 1/4 mile, chug a beer, run 1/4 mile, chug a beer, run 1/4 mile, chug a beer and run 1/4 mile. So…4 beers and 1 mile. 

Are you ready for that? The course starts and finishes in front of Martin’s outdoor stage downtown on 1st Street and features $1,000 in cash prizes!


A photo posted by VBR crit (@vbrcrit) on

By now, you’ve got to be spent! It’s time to kickback, relax and let the professionals do the racing! Live music starts at 5:30 p.m. and continues through the night. Crit racing kicks off at 6:00 p.m. with the Masters 35+ race, and continues through 8:30 p.m. with the Cat 1 Women’s Race and Cat 1 Men’s race. 

Grab a beer at Blue 5’s outdoor beer garden and jockey your way to the fence line along the road course to catch all of cycling action up close. Racing ends around 10:00 p.m., but the live music on Martin’s outdoor stage continues until 1:00 a.m.

How’s that for a fun filled Blue Ridge Saturday?! 

For all the latest on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium, check out the event website.

You can also keep up with the conversations surrounding the race on social media by using the #VBRCrit hashtag and following @vbrcrit on Twitter and Instagram.

Learn more about Virginia's Blue Ridge by taking a look at our Calendar of Events and don't forget to subscribe to our e-newsletter.