Psyched to bike the Virginia Capital Trail

I love to bike. I also love to write about biking. The Features desk at the Richmond Times-Dispatch offered me the chance to get out and ride my bike on the Virginia Capital Trail on a beautiful fall day, with the stipulation that I had to take pictures, talk to people and write about my experience.

Not a problem, thanks for the offer. I enjoyed it tremendously. This may be a glimpse into my future as a freelance writer once I transition away from full time employment in media.

For the newspaper’s Weekend section, I wrote that “after decades in development, the Virginia Capital Trail is finally complete — giving walkers, runners and cyclists a safe path to enjoy, separated from busy state Route 5.”

The 52-mile trail officially opened in October. It connects Richmond to Jamestown (just shy of Williamsburg), running along Route 5, which is classified as a scenic byway. The historic corridor contains dozens of plantations and parks nestled among thousands of beautiful trees and lush agrarian scenery.

I enjoyed a 50-mile ride in October from Four Mile Creek Park in eastern Henrico County to Charles City Courthouse. My cycling companion for the day was Frank Cundiff, president of the Virginia Cycling Association. He has been biking portions of the trail for years. Now that it is complete, he has a safe 104-mile training loop.

Cundiff was great. We had never met face-to-face before that ride, but had talked on the phone or through social media a few times. I’ve even interviewed him before — he’s very knowledgeable about cycling and is a great ambassador for biking in this region.

We were lucky to encounter several good people to interview on the trail. I wasn’t shy, waving down a few passing cyclists to chat with about their experiences. The couple planning to bike 13,000 miles around the United States was a great find, but I also enjoyed talking (twice) with a cyclist from Virginia Beach who wanted to bike the trail to Richmond to eat lunch at City Dogs and visit the Poe Museum in Shockoe Bottom. Both were great examples of enjoying the trail as bike tourists, a big part of what planners hope will bring economic benefits to the region from the trail.

We were out there scouting for a location for a coffee shop/bike repair/food stop, and we may have found one, located not far from the Malvern Hill portion of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

Too bad I’m not in a position to run a shop there myself. I’m not sure my wife and children are ready to move to eastern Henrico County.

Finally, it was a random chance, but I was also glad to meet my friend Andrew Freiden’s parents, Alan and Laura, out on the trail too. They were very enthusiastic about the trail, saying the “trail has improved our quality of life dramatically.” High praise, but I doubt they are the only ones who will feel that way about the Virginia Capital Trail. Andrew was only slightly excited…

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