A new outdoor festival is coming to Mayo Island and the James River on September 27, and mountain bikers and paddlers should take notice. The Tour de Fall Line is a coordinated effort between Richmond-MORE and the James River Outdoor Coalition to show off everything they fight for as advocates for mountain biking and paddling in Richmond, while at the same time serving as a fundraiser for both organizations.
The Tour de Fall Line will highlight Richmond’s epic trails — like Buttermilk (pictured). Credit: Trey Garman
The day will consist of two separate events, both meant to be casual experiences open to all. For mountain bikers, there is a 50-mile loop that runs over virtually every trail along the James River — Buttermilk, Northbank, Forest Hill Park, etc. Meanwhile, whitewater enthusiasts will drop in at the Huguenot Flatwater boat landing and run the James River all the way to Mayo Island. That’s where paddlers and mountain bikers will meet at the end for an outdoor party, complete with a band and beverages.
The bike and boat festival was the brainchild of Greg Rollins, president of Richmond-MORE, who was visiting Mayo Island one afternoon and realized that the 14th Street boat launch could be used to do a single event for both groups. “I thought, this would be a great place to combine these two events.”
The Tour de Fall Line takes its name from the rocky, hilly geologic feature along the East Coast — the Fall Line — that separates the flat, coastal Tidewater from the hillier Piedmont.
Rollins emphasized that this is not meant to be a competitive event, adding that it would be a great way for someone who is not familiar with Richmond’s trail systems to learn their way around. “It’s all about advocacy and altruism,” he said. “It’s a ride, not a race. Maybe you haven’t ridden the trails – we’ll show you where they are, and you’ll have the aid stations that will help you out.”
Rollins said he is working with a core group of Richmond mountain bikers, including Richmond trails manager Mike Burton and VDOT Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner John Bolecek, to set courses, which will also include a 25-mile and a 10-mile option. The shorter options feature reduced pricing.
In the Tour de Fall Line, Paddlers will run the James through Richmond while MTBers pedal the trails around it.
Max Posner, Co-Vice President for JROC, echoed the sentiment that the Tour de Fall Line is meant to be a community event and not a competitive one. “We’re going to try and complement the mountain biking portion of the event,” he said. “We want to showcase the outdoor community here – the trails and rapids – and show everyone what they have to play with.”
Posner said JROC is working to make sure that paddlers have a shuttle in place to get everyone to Huguenot Flatwater Park. Posner also said that he and JROC president Patrick Griffin are working on a shorter option for paddlers who aren’t interested in running the whitewater at Belle Isle. Posner said he hopes to have course and pricing details ready later this week.
According to a press release posted on the Richmond-MORE website, all participants will receive a souvenir pint glass, a well-crafted color map to use during the event and to keep, and an after party complete with vendors, a band, and food by Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. The 50-mile bike ride will cost $40, while the full-length paddle will cost $30.