Charles City Co. Opens Public Camping Area at Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park

A new public camping area serving the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail and James River is now open at Charles City County’s Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park. The Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park Primitive Camping Area features bicycle facilities and consists of three campsites with picnic tables and a group camping area. Campsites can be reserved through Charles City County’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Charles City County’s Board of Supervisors approved a proposal for the creation of a small primitive camping area to serve the Virginia Capital Trail and Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park in 2017. The proposal was presented to the County by the James River Association and endorsed by Charles City County’s Recreation Advisory Committee and Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) awarded the James River Association a grant to support the project. The James River Association organized volunteers to install the primitive camping area in coordination with Charles City County staff members. The primitive camping area is located adjacent to existing restroom facilities near the park’s entrance.

“For many, safe recreation has been a challenge this year. Charles City County is honored to work with the James River Association to ensure everyone still has the opportunity to enjoy safe recreation options here in our community,” said Michelle Johnson, County Administrator for Charles City County. “The great outdoors is where everyone can find enjoyment, and make new memories. We welcome visitors to Charles City to create those memories here.”

The bike work station and entrance to the camping area.

Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager with the James River Association, stated, “It was a pleasure to work with Charles City County and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation to bring the Lawrence Lewis, Jr Primitive Camping Area project to life. The primitive camping area fills a gap in camping access along the Virginia Capital Trail and James River, and gives cyclists and paddlers planning multi-day expeditions a new camping option.”

“It has been a privilege to work alongside Charles City County and the James River Association on this project,” shares Cat Anthony, Executive Director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, “We frequently get asked about camping or lodging opportunities along the Capital Trail. We are thrilled for the opportunities this new camping resource offers. We believe it will encourage healthy recreation and help people foster an appreciation and connection to nature and the outdoors.”

A reservation is required to use the campground. To reserve a campsite or the group camping area, individuals should call (804) 652-1601 or e-mail Reservations can be made Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Reservations are contingent upon campsite availability, submission of a registration form, and payment. A registration form can be found at Charles City County Parks and Recreation staff will issue a confirmation permit once the registration form and payment are submitted. Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance.

Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park is a 26-acre public riverfront park established in 1993 to provide recreational activities to the citizens of Charles City County and surrounding areas. The park features a fishing pier, boat ramp, and picnic pavilion.

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‘Monumental’ Ashland to Petersburg Trail Already Gaining Momentum

Many already take advantage of the regional gem that is the Virginia Capital Trail, but another bike/pedestrian project, the proposed Ashland to Petersburg Trail, has promise as an urban north-south connector and protected multi-use path.

This VDOT trail is a monumental collaboration between seven localities (Ashland, Hanover County, Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Richmond, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg), the Sports Backers, and other partners. The concept “is founded on bike master planning efforts throughout the corridor,” says the Director of Outreach for Bike Walk RVA at Sports Backers, Brantley Tyndall. The approximately 41-mile trail is garnering political support and made a big step toward completion during the General Assembly sessions this year.

Largely inspired by the Indianapolis Cultural Trail in Indiana, the ATP would connect key regions and areas of development. The ICT is smaller and entirely downtown, but according to Tyndall, the ICT’s success has shown the value of a car-less path going big with wide lanes and landscaping. Sports Backers’ website calls the Trail “a spine for regional transportation” and “an opportunity to ‘connect the dots’ and establish another long-distance trail that provides opportunities for active transportation, recreation, and economic development.” Tyndall explains that the ATP will be built by localities. “Henrico builds the Henrico section, for example, and the sections can be constructed independently and concurrently. So, it could happen relatively fast.”

According to Sports Backers, “Several sections of the ATP already exist or are planned in localities’ comprehensive and special area plans including the existing Ashland Trolley Line Trail and Chester Linear Park, and the planned Trolley Line Connector in Henrico, Brook Road protected bike lanes in Richmond, and the Northern Jefferson Davis Special Area Plan in Chesterfield.” 

The ATP alignment in Richmond includes Jackson Ward, downtown, and potentially the T. Tyler Potterfield bridge or the Manchester Bridge, but more options could be considered. One reason is that the 2nd Street route for accessing the T Pott Bridge is too steep to be ADA-compliant. 

Tyndall says that Ashland has already started to build, Henrico is looking at the Bryan Park area, Richmond at the Commerce Road area, and Chesterfield also submitted grants for the Route 1 section. “Those sections in the pipeline should see action in the next year or two,” he says.

Many interested parties attended the recent General Assembly meetings where legislation affecting funding of the Trail, House Bill 1541, was discussed. HB1541 would “create the Central Virginia Transportation Authority and raise state taxes to fund projects in Chesterfield County and eight other Richmond-area localities. … The measure has broad support among local governments in the region – particularly Chesterfield, which expects to receive about $45 million a year in new revenue to help tackle its $2.1 billion list of unfunded transportation priorities,” explained Jim McConnell in the Chesterfield Observer on February 5. McConnell writes, “Among the other big-ticket items on [Chesterfield’s] list are … $20 million to build a segment of the Ashland-to-Petersburg trail, a planned mixed-use path that will stretch 41 miles and link the region’s four big localities. It also includes $78 million in other sidewalk and shared-use path projects that would significantly improve connectivity across the county for pedestrians and cyclists.” As of March 4, HB1541 passed in both the House and the Senate and can soon go before Gov. Northam.

Still, the completion of the trail is years away. “There is no firm timeline,” Tyndall says. “The alignment is complete at this time, but things could change, including the name. What’s expected to stay consistent is the growing momentum around it.”

The ATP is projected to cost about $192 million, a bit less than three times the cost of the Capital Trail. This is due in part to the fact that traversing urban areas is often more expensive than rural areas, but it’s important to note that “the ATP is about capitalizing on already great areas like Brown’s Island,” says Tyndall. “These are reasons why elected officials are excited about it. It will be its own economic tourism and health generator.”

Beyond the main corridor, future projects could manifest spur connections. VDOT’s Final Study Report, published February 4, mentions that suggested connections to some locations were discussed by STAG [Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group] members. These discussed locations include Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond Main Street Amtrak Station, Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station, [and the] Appomattox River Trail.

What excites many about this project, says Tyndall, is that “The ATP is about connecting so many places: residences, historic sites, businesses, railbeds, rivers, and more. It could be the backbone of what could become I-95 for bikes.”

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Riverside Outfitters to Offer Bike Tours, Full-Service Bike Shop

If you need a break from 24/7 coronavirus news, check out this morning’s Richmond BizSense. There you’ll find a write-up on our newest venture, a partnership with RVA native Max Pendergraph to offer guided mountain and road bike tours, expanded mountain and road bike rentals, a full-service bike repair shop and refurbished bike sales.

After several years guiding international bicycle tours for industry leader Backroads, Inc. and working as a mechanic at several bike shops in Nashville, Max has the perfect background to steer Riverside Cycling, this new venture for Riverside Outfitters.

Pocahontas State Park will be among the tour destinations offered by Riverside Cycling.

While bike touring has caught fire out West, it’s still a growing segment of the adventure market here on the East Coast. We’re thrilled to offer half and full-day guided outings to places like the Virginia Capital Trail, Pocahontas State Park, downtown Richmond and other awesome ride destinations across the region. Riverside Cycling will also work with fellow adventurers to offer customized bike tours of any shape, size or destination.

Opening day is March 28. Learn more or book an outing by checking out our website here:

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Sen. Mark Warner to Visit Local Bike Builder on Saturday to Discuss Trump Tariffs

Back in October, for an episode of our Views from the Treehouse podcast, we interviewed Shane Cusick, who started a company right here in Richmond — Pello Bikes — making bicycles purpose-built for kids. It was a fascinating discussion, especially near the end when Cusick spoke about the impact the President Trump-imposed 10% import tariff was having on his fledgling business and what it would mean if that tariff jumped to 25% on Jan. 1. That 15% bump was recently postponed 90 days to give the United States and China more time to iron out their trade differences. But the challenge of operating a small business that makes its product in China (like so many small U.S.-based businesses) is still very real, and the outcome of those talks is uncertain.

Cusick told me he recently contacted Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to tell them his story. Sen. Warner responded, and this Saturday he’ll be visiting Pello Bikes at 2 p.m. to talk about how the new tariffs are affecting business like Pello. Cusick said the event is open to the public and that the Senator would love to hear from other small business owners who might be similarly affected by the tariffs. Also, he added, you can bring your kids and let them ride around in the parking lot.

Pello Bikes is located at 215 W 21st St, Studio 2C Richmond, Va. 23225. You can email Shane for more information at

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Virginia Capital Trail Hosts First-Ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ Ceremony

Historic Westover Church, in partnership with Basket & Bike, is hosting the first-ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ ceremony along the Virginia Capital Trail on Sunday, October 21 at 2 p.m. Westover Church, which dates from 1730, is located at Mile Marker 25 in Charles City County. This annual event started in New York City in the late 1990’s and has since spread to other parts of the country. Westover is excited to bring this popular tradition to the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile trail connecting Richmond and Williamsburg along the beautiful Route 5 corridor.

A blessing of the bikes ceremony in New York City. Credit:

“I am excited to welcome cyclists from Richmond, Williamsburg and across the region to Westover for this special occasion,” said April Greenwood, Rector, Westover Episcopal Church. “We are proud to have the Virginia Capital Trail as a neighbor and are thankful for the fun and recreation it provides to countless bikers and walkers. For Westover, the importance of this event is to bless the Trail’s many users to keep them safe as they enjoy this wonderful resource.”

“Since its completion in 2015, the Virginia Capital Trail has gained a reputation as a destination for bikers from across the Commonwealth and around the globe,” said Anne Poarch, Founder, Basket & Bike. “As a
world-class amenity that attracts visitors from near and far, it is only fitting that the VA Capital Trail should join other biking communities in hosting a ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ ceremony. Westover graciously opens its doors to the thousands of cyclists who pedal past each year, and so I am very grateful to April for her hospitality.”

Event Details

Who: Cyclists from Richmond, Williamsburg and across Central Va
What:   First-Ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ Ceremony on the VA Capital Trail

When: Sunday, October 21 at 2:00pm
Where: Westover Church, 6401 John Tyler Highway, Charles City (Va. Capital Trail – Mile Marker 25)

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New ‘Pulse Pedal Pursuit’ to Highlight GRTC Pulse, RVA Bike Share

The Sports Backers yesterday announced the first-ever Pulse Pedal Pursuit to take place on Saturday, July 21. In the scavenger hunt-style event, participants will utilize the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit system and RVA Bike Share to visit destinations along the Pulse corridor to collect points while traveling by foot, bus, or bike.

An RVA Bike Share station in Richmond. Credit: Sports Backers

During Pulse Pedal Pursuit, participants will have from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on July 21 to visit as many designated sites of interest as possible in and around the new GRTC Pulse route. As part of their registration, participants will receive free day passes for both GRTC Pulse and RVA Bike Share, along with a free 30-day membership to RVA Bike Share. Individual or group teams can go for speed or stick to casual sightseeing in their pursuit of points during the event.

GRTC Pulse is a modern, high-quality, high-capacity bus rapid transit system that serves a 7.6-mile route along Broad Street and Main Street, from Rocketts Landing in Richmond to Willow Lawn in Henrico County. GRTC Pulse is jointly sponsored by Bon Secours Richmond Health System and VCU Health System. The Pulse links passengers with many exciting destinations, including restaurants, breweries, museums, parks, and more. Launched in 2017, the RVA Bike Share system offers a pedal-powered option for residents and visitors to explore the city. RVA Bike Share is available 24/7 and works well for errands, commuting, or recreation.

The event will start and finish at the newly-opened River City Roll, with packet pick-up taking place from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. on either side of the 9 a.m. start, followed by the Finish Festival taking place from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“Pulse Pedal Pursuit aims to show off some of the best RVA destinations and provide participants an active and innovative way to experience Richmond,” said Megan Schultz, Director of Events for Sports Backers. “GRTC Pulse and RVA Bike Share are two great options for active transportation and this is a great way for residents from all over the region to take advantage of them for the day, and continue to come back in the future.”

The new Pulse bus route comes online this coming Sunday.

RVA Rapid Transit will serve as the official event charity of Pulse Pedal Pursuit. RVA Rapid Transit is a grassroots organization dedicated to educating, organizing, and advocating for regional public transit across the metro Richmond area. They aim to transform the region’s transit system to make it more accessible and practical for more people, and working with Pulse Pedal Pursuit will highlight the role that rapid transit can play in the lives of residents throughout Richmond.

In addition to participant finisher items to help commemorate the unique experience, prizes will also be up for grabs for the individuals, duos, and four-person teams that accumulate the most points, along with prizes for best photos and social media engagement. Registration for Pulse Pedal Pursuit is currently $20 through July 20 and is available by clicking here.

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Monsoon Rains Cause Changes to Riverrock Schedule

The mud run will go on as scheduled. Credit: Sports Backers

In light of the drenching, equatorial, Amazonian, monsoon rains Richmond has been and is currently experiencing, I emailed the Sports Backers’ PR maven Pete Woody about the status of Riverrock. Here’s what he, and event director Megan Schultz, had to say:

“Participant safety is extremely important, as is protecting the integrity of the trails in the James River Park System. We’ve worked closely with event staff and trail managers to come up with new courses for each event and believe they will offer great experiences for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy,” said Megan Schultz, event director for Dominion Energy Riverrock.

The festival is on rain or shine, and the complete schedule can be found at

-The Mountain Bike Time Trial, originally scheduled for Friday, May 18, at 6:30pmhas been canceled. Registered participants have been notified by email, and full refunds will be offered.

-The James River Scramble 10k Trail Run and Urban Assault Mountain Bike Ride, scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at 9:00a.m. and 1:30p.m., respectively, will take place as scheduled with rerouted courses. The James River Scramble map can be found here, and the Urban Assault map can be found here

-The course for the Sierra Nevada Down River Paddle, taking place on Saturday, May 19, at 11:30am, has been moved and will now go from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek, rather than Reedy Creek to the 14th Street Takeout. 

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There’s Still Time to Enter the 2018 Cap2Cap Ride

There’s still time to sign up and ride in the 13th VCU Health Cap2Cap. The annual fundraiser ride for the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is this Saturday (May 12th) at the Charles City County Courthouse complex. This year, organizers are expecting 1,500 riders of all ages and abilities — from an 86-year-old who is riding the 50-miler, to a 4-year-old who has already signed up for the fun ride.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m. with the first group, the Waste-Management Century riders.  These cyclists will ride 100 miles all over Charles City and Eastern Henrico County roads.

The Virginia Credit Union Half-Century group begins its mass start at 8:30 a.m., the Agee’s Bicycles 25-Miler begins at 9:30 a.m.  The Virginia Capital Trail 15-Mile Fun ride kicks off at 9:45am.

The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation asks that residents be aware that Rt. 5 at the Charles City County Courthouse will be closed for the mass starts only. Riders will be out on the routes throughout the day, so anyone planning to be passing through the area is advised to use caution.  Click here for the routes and more information.

This event raises funds for the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation whose mission is to oversee enhancement, promotion, and ongoing development of the Virginia Capital Trail, a paved, multi-use trail connecting Richmond to Williamsburg along the historic Rt. 5 corridor.

Online registration is open through May 9th.  Walk up registration will be available after this date. For more information, please contact Cat Anthony, executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation at 804-788-6455 or by email at

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New Events Highlight 2018 Riverrock

(Home page image courtesy of

Every year the Sports Backers have the challenge of keeping Riverrock, the annual outdoor recreation and music festival, feeling fresh for the 100,000 or so Central Virginians who will descend on the Brown’s Island area in mid-May. This year is no different. The three-day event will feature several new events and challenges over the course of the May 18-20 festival weekend.

Bouldering at Riverrock. Credit: Sports Backers

New events taking place on Friday, May 18, include the Mountain Bike Time Trial and Belle Isle Blitz. In the Mountain Bike Time Trial, participants will set out to get the fastest finishing time on a rugged course on the James River Park System trails. The time trial starts at 6:30 p.m., and riders will go off in one-minute intervals. At 7:15 p.m. on Friday, the Belle Isle Blitz is a chip-timed race over a roughly 5k course that will offer a fun and unique challenge to hard-core trail runners. Starting on the south side of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and finishing in the Belle Isle parking lot, the Blitz also features a dog wave for participants who want to take on the trails with their four-legged friends by their side.

On Saturday, May 19, the inaugural Sierra Nevada Down River Paddle takes place at 11:30 a.m. Using their kayak, canoe, or SUP, participants will take off in one-minute intervals, starting at Reedy Creek. They will battle some of the river’s most challenging rapids as they race to the finish at the 14th street takeout, with the fastest male and female times winning.

On May 20, the Sunday Funday Ride allows bike riders of all ages to take part in a casual cruise while exploring the best of RVA. Setting off at 1:30pm, the Sunday Funday Ride features a 10-mile and 25-mile course option, and, for those still in need of a little friendly competition, the ride will feature several timed segments through Strava, where riders can compete for bragging rights. Both courses will start in the Belle Isle parking lot and will include one on-course aid station.

These new additions to Dominion Energy Riverrock will also help form two new weekend-long challenges: the River Rumble and Trail Trio. The River Rumble, a combination of running, paddling, and biking, is comprised of the James River Scramble 10k trail run, the Sierra Nevada Down River Paddle, and the Urban Assault Mountain Bike Race. A male and female will be crowned River Rumble champion based on the fastest combined time in all three events, and the Rumble will challenge participants’ endurance on Richmond’s signature trails and rapids. River Rumble participants will also receive a discount on their overall entry and a unique River Rumble participant shirt, while the champions will earn additional, and well-deserved, bragging rights.

The Trail Trio, incorporating the Belle Isle Blitz, James River Scramble, and Bust the Banks trail half marathon, will be a true test of trail running skill over a three-day span. The Trail Trio offers challenges at a variety of distances and takes participants to the North Bank Trail, Buttermilk Trail, Belle Isle, Potterfield Bridge, and Brown’s Island in pursuit of the special Trail Trio finisher medal and legendary status, among other finisher items.

Registration for all Dominion Energy Riverrock events and challenges is currently open. Click here for more information and to register.

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RVA Bike Month Set for May with ‘Bike to the Future’ Theme

With a theme of Bike to the Future, RVA Bike Month 2018 presented by Bon Secours features a full calendar of events. 2018 marks the fifth year that Bike Walk RVA, a program of Sports Backers, is coordinating the bike-related events with the help of dozens of volunteers and advocates from across the Richmond region. More details and the full calendar of events can be found here.

Highlights of the calendar include an official proclamation from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and City Council on May 14 designating May as Richmond Bike Month and the third week of May to be Richmond Bike to Work Week. In the proclamation, City leadership will make a point of encouraging all residents to share the road safely. In celebration of National Bike to Work Day on May 18, a group ride on the highly-anticipated Franklin Street two-way protected bike lane will be organized during the morning commute for riders as they make their way to work.


On June 1, Bon Secours will also host the East End Bike Party at the Sarah Garland Jones Center at 2600 Nine Mile Road. The party is free and open to the public. The East End Bike Party will also feature the inaugural Bike Walk RVA Awards Ceremony, honoring individuals and groups for their year-round commitment to bike and pedestrian advocacy. The new awards program is just one part of a calendar that features over 50 events for bike enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. Running from April 28 through June 2, RVA Bike Month includes events taking place in the City of Richmond, Town of Ashland, and counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover, reflecting the growth in support and popularity of increased bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the Richmond region.

Activities will include food and mural-themed rides, parent and kid rides, food tours, and group bike commutes, as well as bigger festivals like Dominion Energy Riverrock which takes place May 18-20 at Brown’s Island and Historic Tredegar. In honor of the ‘Bike to the Future’ theme, there will also be an outdoor screening of the classic film ‘Back to the Future’ on Friday, May 11.

“The community volunteers, advocates, businesses, and organizations that contribute to the full month of events are what make RVA Bike Month stand out as a great treat for the Richmond region,” said Brantley Tyndall, Community Engagement Manager for Bike Walk RVA. “The rapid and continued growth of community interest in biking highlights the fact that bikes and bike infrastructure are an important part of the region’s identity.”

For a full list of bike month events, and to see the Bike Month poster, visit

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