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Podcast #3: Exploring the Future of the Va. Capital Trail

Today we released our third “Views from the Treehouse” podcast, recorded in RO’s secret treehouse headquarters. Our first two featured Ralph White (one podcast cannot contain the greatness that is the former James River Park manager). In this one, Matt Perry and I sat down with Catherine “Cat” Anthony. The VCU grad hasn’t been out of college for a decade, but just last fall she was installed as the the new executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. She’s charged with shaping the future of one of the Central Virginia’s most popular outdoor recreation resources — the 52-mile ribbon of asphalt that runs from Richmond to Jamestown and drew over 1 million visits last year. What’s her vision for the trail? What will it’s economic impact be? How safe is it? How will we fund its continued maintenance? All these questions — and our usual James Lipton-esque rapid fire session at the end — are a click away!

Check it out!

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Bike Walk RVA Needs Support for Bike/Ped Infrastructure, Safety Initiatives

Credit: Sports Backers

Last week, the Sports Backers were looking for input on the new RVA Bike Share program and where new stations should go as part of Phase 2. Now Bike Walk RVA, the SBs’ advocacy arm, is sounding the alarm on bike lanes, pedestrian safety and James River Park infrastructure, issues that should matter to a whole host of outdoors-minded Richmonders. From Bike Walk RVA director Max Hepp-Buchanan:

Like you, we were excited for 20+ miles of new bike lanes in 2017 in the city of Richmond. Unfortunately, there was less than one mile of new bike lanes built for the entire year. Like you, we are tired of waiting. And with 12 combined bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in Richmond last year alone, we can’t wait for safe streets. We need to start 2018 off strong, and we need your help.
 
Please join us for the first #WeCantWait campaign meet-up where we will work together on a strategy to hit the ground running (and rolling) in the New Year. That means actually building bike lanes that are already funded and designed, finishing and acting on a strong Vision Zero plan, and dedicating funding to future transformational projects like the Missing Link Trail.
 
RSVP HERE FOR THE #WECANTWAIT CAMPAIGN MEET-UP
 
When: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 / 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Where: Capital Alehouse Richmond, 623 E. Main Street

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Sports Backers Seek Input on Phase 2 of RVA Bike Share

Have you seen Phase 1 of Richmond’s bike share program? The 220 bikes are all over downtown Richmond at 17 different stations, waiting to be checked out with the swipe of a credit card. Now the city is preparing yo rollout Phase 2, and the Sports Backers are soliciting inout on where the stations should go. The below is from an email by Brantley Tyndall, the SBs community engagement manager.

Click here to take our bike share expansion survey – with a deadline of Feb. 28. It has questions about your experience with bike share (if any), where you might want to see new stations, and if you have any suggestions for specific sites of the expansion (with public access and close to electricity).

Our reach is limited and this information is important, so please share this link with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers: www.surveymonkey.com/r/richmondbikesharesurvey  We will also provide hard-copy information about the survey at local libraries and community meetings.

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Local Doctor Combats Elderly Loneliness Through Cycling

Feeling lonely sucks.

Part of being human is interacting in a meaningful way with other humans. When this basic need is not met, it feels awful because our shared DNA is hard-wired for us to want to hang with other people.

For most of us, if we ever feel lonely we can go into the next room and see our family, call up a buddy, or fire off a text to see what folks are up to. Heck, most of us are so busy with work and family that we really never experience loneliness. Or, if you are like me, after you have heard “Daddy!” for the 63rd time that day, being lonely for two minutes doesn’t sound all that bad.

However, there are too many people in Richmond who are truly lonely — people who have become isolated because they grew old, got sick, or became injured. They don’t have friends to hang with, their families are gone save an occasional weekend visit.

Cycling Without Age is a program that helps end loneliness with bike rides. “The right to wind in your hair” is our slogan, and it could not be more appropriate. The program takes people who are stuck in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and gets them out on the road in a specially designed bike called a trishaw.  Sun on their face, wind in their hair, experiencing the freedom that cycling provides.

The program was started in Copenhagen, Denmark by a gentleman named Ole Klassow who rode his bike every day to work. Along the way, he would pass a 90-year-old man who sat in the same place every day. One day, Ole showed up on a trishaw and asked the old man if he would like a bike ride. Off they went, and Cycling Without Age was born. That bike ride has grown into over 300 Cycling Without Age chapters on 6 continents.

I am incredibly excited to bring this movement to RVA.  The first trishaw has arrived, and I have just begun giving rides to residents of St. Francis Home, which is located near Forest Hill Park. My mission with St. Francis is to share with the residents the joy of being outside on a bike, a relaxed conversation, and friendship. Simply put, to let them know they don’t have to be lonely; they are not forgotten.

My vision is that Cycling Without Age Richmond becomes an awesome force for our community, with trishaws cruising all over the city, spreading the joy that cycling brings to those who would otherwise be stuck inside. I envision rides for sick or disabled kids, shut-ins, or veterans who couldn’t normally experience cycling. Why can’t this be big?

Want to help? 

I’m hoping that as you read this something inside you will spark. I’m looking for folks who could take someone on a bike ride. Get the wind in their hair, the sun on your face, and share it with someone who otherwise would never get that feeling. In Denmark, they are called pilots.

If you, or someone you know would like to be a pilot, please send me an email at travis1969@gmail.com. If we can get a gang of people to volunteer for even an hour or two a month, this could be amazing. I will be setting up a website, Facebook page and a sign-up sheet, so stay tuned.

If bike riding isn’t your thing, and you want to show your support financially, we do have 501(c)(3) status and have set up a GoFundMe campaign to purchase several more bikes and to spread the vibe to more folks. Donate here.

If you have a couple of extra minutes, this is the video that got me inspired to set up the Richmond chapter. One of our local networks has expressed interest in filming a story here in RVA. So, stay tuned!

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Riders Climb Libby Hill in Effort to ‘Conquer Cancer’

One of the most iconic scenes from the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond in 2015 was of the crowd gathered on Libby Hill as the riders made their way up the cobblestone switchbacks. Thousands descended on the area near Church Hill overlooking downtown, cheering on their favorite riders.

Thanks to a fund-raising event held this past Saturday, road cyclists and mountain bikers of all abilities had the chance to see how they fared going up the same challenging serpentine path as the professionals two years ago.

The “Climb to Conquer Cancer,” which benefited VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, drew a field of about 150 cyclists in their quest to test themselves. It was the brainchild of Amy Williams, the president of Amy’s Army of Cancer Warriors, and Les Carter, the event director.

“We were hoping to re-create the vibe (from the 2015 Worlds),” said Williams, a cancer survivor who credits the Massey Cancer Center with saving her life. “We first thought about a road race, but that can cost between $20,000 and $30,000.”

Instead they decided to feature two timed climbs up Libby Hill as part of a ride of 26.2, 44 or 62 miles out on the road or 19 or 33 on the area’s mountain bike trails. The average time of their two climbs (the first after about a 3-mile warm-up and the second ending their ride) was used as riders competed for a polka dot jersey, just as the pro riders earn as the best climber, or King of the Mountains, in the Tour de France.

“The credit for that goes to Emily Bashton,” Williams said.

Bashton is the organizer for Pedal through Petals, a cycling fundraiser for Amy’s Army that was held in May. Bashton also came up with the idea of a podium ceremony, complete with two young cancer survivors (Mia and Abigail) serving as podium girls, who handed out flowers and the famed polka dot jerseys to King and Queen of the Mountain winners in four categories.

But event organizers were eyeing more than just cyclists. They wanted to make it fun “for people to watch,” Williams said. Special VIP spectator areas were set up, and fans were able to get in on the action by ringing small cowbells and cheering as the cyclists made the climb and passed under a white and yellow balloon arch at the top of the hill.

The climb up the cobblestones measured about one-tenth of a mile and had an average grade of 9 percent. Saturday’s riders in Richmond did the climb just twice, while at the 2015 Worlds, the men made the climb up Libby Hill 16 times and the women eight. At the 2017 Worlds in Bergen, Norway, which concluded Sept. 24, the big climb up Salmon Hill in the men’s and women’s elite road races was 1.5 kilometers (almost a mile) with an average grade of 10 percent.

Looking at comments the riders posted on their Facebook pages, it was a big success, and many can’t wait to do it again. But if you missed the chance this year, don’t worry. Williams and company already are looking ahead to next year.

“We all talked afterward and heard a lot of ‘This is great. Let’s do it again.’” Williams said.

Event organizers will meet in the next two or three weeks, hoping to pin down a date. But Williams said it probably will be around the same time of the year since this one seemed to work out well.

“When we started talking about it earlier this spring, we thought if we got 50-75 people, that would be great,” she said. “I’m really happy with the way it went. We are looking to improve (the event) and hear what to add and what to fix.”

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‘RVA Bike Share’ to Roll Out Next Week

I’ve got some friends that are in the process of moving to Richmond from New York City, and one of the first questions they asked me when they began looking for an apartment here was about the long-delayed RVA Bike Share program. The husband, especially, used New York’s bike share system every day. He used it so much, he rarely needed his own bike.

I’m excited to tell them that RVA Bike Share is (almost) here. Richmond announced Tuesday that the system will be up and running next week. As Mark Robinson reports in today’s Times-Dispatch: the first phase “will include 220 eight-speed bikes and 20 docking stations, where prospective cyclists can check out a bike, take a spin around town, and return it for as little as $1.75.” A day pass, which gets you unlimited rides of 45 minutes or less, is $6. Monthly and annual memberships are also available.

Click here to learn more.

Mayor Levar Stoney will lead a launch event next Tuesday at 9 a.m that’s open to the public. Riders will start at Kanawha Plaza and go on a 2-mile ride to Manchester and back across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, ending at Brown’s Island.

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JRPS Offering Epic Overnight Bike Trip to See Perseid Meteor Shower

I recently received an email from our friend Penelope Davenport, who’s in charge of the outdoor education programs at the James River Park, about a really cool event they’ve got coming up. Think of this as a warmup for those who’ll be eclipse chasing on August 21.

Here’s the link to the FB event page. Info below.

Biking, camping, and stargazing, all in one event?! Oh, yes. After a scenic and challenging 45-mile ride along the Virginia Capital Trail, we’ll camp under the stars at Chickahominy Riverfront Park and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. At its peak, we can expect to see between 60 and 100 meteors per hour! 

SCHEDULE: 
Saturday, August 12th 
1:30pm: Participants meet at Great Shiplock Park, load personal camping gear into the James River Park Trailer
2:00pm: Depart toward Chickahominy Riverfront Park
Evening: Arrive at the campsite; enjoy a delicious dinner with new friends.
Night: Watch tons of meteors!

Sunday, August 13th
Morningtime: Eat scrumptious breakfast
Hit the Trail!
Afternoon: Return victorious to Great Shiplock Park

We have mountain bikes you can borrow, though we suggest bringing your own bike if you have one. We recommend a road or commuter bike for this adventure, and unfortunately we don’t have road bikes in our Park fleet.

THIS TRIP IS FULLY SUPPORTED. There will be aid stations every ten miles, and if you feel like riding just part of the distance on your bike and part of the distance in our van, with air conditioning and sweet tunes blasting, you are more than welcome to do so.

PACKING: Bring gear for “glamping”– we’ll haul all of your stuff in our trailer, and if you need to borrow a tent, sleeping pad, or sleeping bag, we can provide them. Email Penelope Davenport (Penelope.Davenport@richmondgov.com) for a detailed packing list of personal items, and with any and all questions.

AGES: 14 years and over. Registration is $100 – proceeds support James River Park outdoor programs for urban youth.

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New Date, One-Day Option for ‘RVA to DC’ Ride

Registration is now open for the Sports Backers’ RVA to DC bike ride, which returns this year with a new date and new one-day ride option.

Riders enjoy last year’s RVA to DC ride. Credit: Sports Backers

The two-day, fully-supported ride from Richmond to Arlington, takes place October 7-8, while the one-day option will allow cyclists to ride from Richmond to Fredericksburg on October 7th or from Fredericksburg to Arlington on October 8th. RVA to DC supports bike and pedestrian safety and infrastructure projects throughout the state by highlighting some of the best outdoor destinations and historic sites the Commonwealth has to offer. Official event charities will include bike advocacy groups in areas along the course, including Sports Backers’ Bike Walk RVA program.

“In offering the one day option, we hope to reach more riders,” said Megan Schultz, Director of Events for Sports Backers. “There’s an added layer of accessibility with a ride that’s only one day, and we want riders with less experience or those with time constraints to feel comfortable and excited about taking part. The one-day option gives participants the opportunity to experience the fun of the full ride in a shorter time frame.”

Registration for the one-day option costs $75 until September 1st, when it increases to $85. Registration for the two-day ride is currently $150, rising to $165 on September 1st. Registration add-ons include pre-race transportation from Fredericksburg or Washington, D.C., to Richmond on Friday, October 6th, as well as a drop off back in Fredericksburg or Richmond from Washington, D.C., on Sunday, October 8th.

The ride will take participants on a 156-mile route from the capital of Virginia to the nation’s capital, finishing in Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge with dramatic views of Washington, D.C. Aid stations every 15-20 miles will provide water, snacks, and rider support along the course. Additionally, riders will receive cue sheets, and the course will be marked throughout the entire ride to keep navigation simple. On day one, riders will travel 75 miles through Lakeside, U.S. Bike Route 1, Ashland, and Caroline and Spotsylvania counties before ending on a paved multi-use trail in Old Mill Park in downtown Fredericksburg along the Rappahannock River. Day two will take riders across the Rappahannock into Stafford County and Quantico for 35 miles of rural riding and paved trails, followed by low-speed roads through Manassas before a totally unbroken network of paved trails in Centreville at mile 46. These trails will take riders all the way to the finish festival at Gateway Park at the base of the Key Bridge.

RVA to DC registration includes course routing throughout the entire ride, food and hydration stations every 15-20 miles, baggage transportation (up to 2 bags), overnight camping in Fredericksburg, a unique participant item, finisher medal, SAG supports, and a post-ride celebration with a complimentary meal and drink. More information on the ride can be found at www.sportsbackers.org.

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Celebrate ‘Bike to Work Day’ with Mayor Stoney

In case you’ve been stuck in traffic and missed the memo, May is National Bike Month. There have been lots of bike-related events all over the city already. But this Friday, one of the cooler ones comes at you. Friday is National Bike to Work Day, and all of Richmond is invited to come celebrate with Mayor Levar Stoney. There will be coffee, pastries, and healthy snacks at Kanawha Plaza starting at 8 a.m., followed by a ride with the Mayor across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge for a brief but exciting announcement. The ride will then conclude at City Hall.

Click here to RSVP, invite, and share the Facebook event page.

What: Bike to Work Day 2017
When: Friday, May 19 (starting at 8 AM, ride at 9 AM)
Where: Kanawha Plaza (S 7th St and E Canal St), ending at City Hall

And since you’ll have your bike at work, why not pedal over to Riverrock on your way home? This is one of the best weekends of the year for RVA outdoors lovers!

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Riverrock Updates: Event Just One Week Away

Dominion Riverrock and Flo Sports yesterday announced a partnership to stream the Dominion Riverrock bouldering competition live online at www.FloClimbing.com during the May 19-21 festival. This marks the first time that any Riverrock competition has been made available for livestream and will bring the excitement of the bouldering competition, featuring some of the top climbers in the country, directly to spectators across the U.S. and around the globe.

A slackline over the Kanawha Canal at Dominion Riverrock. Credit: Venture Richmond

“Dominion Riverrock offers a visually unique and exciting climbing competition taking  place at one of the premier outdoor sports and music festivals in the country, and we are thrilled about our new partnership,”  said Jordan Shipman, General Manager of Flo Climbing. “The event will be streamed live for the first time on FloClimbing.com, and we are looking forward to bringing this competition to an even larger audience of climbing fans!”

Men’s and women’s Bouldering qualifying and finals will be held Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, and the Speed Competition follows on Sunday, May 21. All events take place on a custom-built 20-foot cage constructed specifically for Dominion Riverrock that offers a unique test of speed, agility, and physical and mental strength. Top competitors for this year’s event include Kai Lightner, Nathaniel Coleman, Kyra Condie, and Brooke Raboutou, among others.

In other Riverrock news: 

To help kick off the 2017 Riverrock, Red Bull Media House will screen a premier of the film ‘Blood Road’ at the Byrd Theater at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 18. The film chronicles mountain bike champion Rebecca Rusch’s journey as she rides the 1,200 miles of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Trail in search of the spot where her father crashed and died during the Vietnam War. Rusch, a Red Bull athlete known as ‘The Queen of pain with a heart of gold’ for her epic performances and adventures around the world, will be in attendance for the premier and will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following the screening. The session will be moderated by Jeff Lenosky, a world class freeride and mountain bike rider who coordinates the Freestyle Bikes competition during Dominion Riverrock and also competes in the Urban Assault mountain bike race during the festival. The screening is free and open to the public, and Rusch will be available for media interviews following the Q&A session.

Prior to the screening, Lenosky and Rusch will lead a pre-ride of the Urban Assault course at noon on May 18. This will be a great opportunity for riders to preview the course, which takes place on the trails in the James River Park System, and learn a few expert tips and tricks from accomplished athletes like Rusch and Lenosky. The course preview ride is free and will start and finish in the Belle Isle parking lot.

Participants Finalized for ‘RVA Plein Air Paint Off’

The field of local artists for the first-ever RVA Plein Air Paint Off at Dominion Riverrock is set and includes some of the area’s best known artists, muralists, and designers. The 10 artists scheduled to take part are Ed Trask, Hamilton Glass, Nico Cathcart, Matt Lively, Amy Swift, Greig Leach, Linda Hollett-Bazouzi, Vincente Gonzalez, Mickael Broth, and Andras Bality.

During the paint off, set for Saturday, May 20 at noon, the artists will have four hours to create a work of art that will be judged and showcased before being made available for sale on Sunday, May 21. The sale is open to the public and will take place from noon-4 p.m. in the brick courtyard at Historic Tredegar.

While the challenge is taking place, the artists will be scattered all over the festival grounds, creating plenty of viewing opportunities to see the competitors at work as their paintings come to life. A canvas size of 30″x40″ for all competitors will create an additional challenge for the artists during the time window, as most plein air painters work on a much smaller scale. With diverse styles and processes, the paint-off promises to be thrilling, inspirational, and educational all at the same time and will present a unique challenge to participating artists. Dominion Riverrock is partnering with Glave Kocen Gallery for the paint-off event.

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