National champion cyclist puts spotlight on Roanoke biking

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Roanoke, Va, (WDBJ7) Tuesday nights, you can usually find bike riders at Deschuttes in Roanoke. But you can't usually find a national champion.

"Oh it's super exciting," said Zach Gregg.

Friday, Roanoke native Zach Gregg became the 2019 Collegiate Road Cycling National Champion, beating out college-age riders from around the country.

Now he's back celebrating with friends, and riding the roads in the Valley.

"I've had some really good coaches, and a lot of really supportive people in Roanoke," said Gregg. That includes people like Mickey Denoncourt.

"Having Zach back for the summer is awesome," said Denoncourt, the Western Virginia Regional Coordinator for USA Cycling.

Right now, he's trying to build up competitive cycling in the Roanoke Valley, organizing events on roads and trails across the region.

"I wanna make sure that the sport of cycling and the various disciplines of cycling are available to people," Denoncourt said.

And he pointed out Zach's win is a great way to get people interested in the sport.

"I can strap a GoPro on him, send him out, and get some great footage."

Denoncourt is hoping to appeal to cyclists of all levels, from pros to hobbyists.

"Roanoke's exploding as a cycling community," said Rob Issem, who's been hitting the roads as part of weekly rides in Roanoke for nearly 20 years

"It's basically the friendliest ride in America," he said.

Issem encourages anyone who's interested to come check it out.

But Zach Gregg, who's only been riding for three years, has some advice for anyone thinking of hitting the roads or trails right away.

"You have to be very selective and know what you're getting yourself into," he said.

But the payoff, Gregg says, is worth it.