Freewheelin’, a whimsical representation of Roanoke’s deep-seated cycling culture, was designed by Roanoker Nene Roe and made real by local metal fabricator Alex Ayers.
Nene Roe moved to Roanoke with her family at age 4 in 1952. She’s lived in Roaonoke City ever since. She and her husband have three daughters and six grandchildren. “I’m fortunate to have raised a family and formed many relationships in Roanoke,” says Roe. She says she’s watched many who locate in Roanoke for work, move on to other communities, only to come back by choice when they retire. “Roanoke has much to offer.”
Roe’s past projects include repair and interior painting restoration work on the iconic Grandin Theatre in 2002 and faux finish stonework for Virginia Department of Transportation on Roanoke’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge in 2008.
Alex Ayers is a trained motorcycle technician born and raised in Roanoke. He has always loved metal working and welding. In 2020 he opened a one-man welding and fabrication shop, Solutions in Metal.
Nene Roe appreciates the regional investments in the greenway, and wanted to pay homage to the outdoor and bicycle culture that have continued to blossom as a result. Together, Roe and Ayers created Freewheelin’. Nene, a cyclist, toured the bike shops in town for donations of wheels for the piece, and Ayers says the inspiration for the piece is the ever-expanding love for cycling and it’s future in the Roanoke Valley for ALL of our citizens.
The work is sited on the Roanoke River Greenway, near the Salem boarder. The easiest access is from Blue Ridge Drive, and the trailhead next to Barrows, Inc. Check out the new plantings, and small plaza created at the site. Thanks Roanoke Parks and Recreation and Greenway volunteers!
Repurposed Bicycle Wheels and Steel