MTB Project eats up Richmond’s singletrack trails

Belle Isle Bike Skills Park

Credit: Leslie Kehmeier

The Richmond region is a great place to ride a mountain bike. We’ve got huge parks with trails. We’ve got small parks with trails. We’ve got trails along both banks of the James River. We’ve got trails in the urban core of the city and plenty out in the counties too.

REI’s MTB Project sent writer/photographer Leslie Kehmeier to Richmond to find out what we’re all about for their Epicenter series, which was “created in partnership with PeopleForBikes, is a series highlighting communities that have invested in cycling infrastructure and grown into full-blown mountain bike destinations as a result.”

From the article:

Despite its location at the southern end of the East Coast’s I-95 megalopolis, Richmond is one of the best places to ride a mountain bike in the Mid-Atlantic. “What makes Richmond special is the access to trails in the urban environment,” says Greg Rollins, president of the local mountain bike group, Richmond Area Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (rvaMORE). “Whether you’re passing through or here on business or vacation, there are 75 miles of beginner to expert trails at your fingertips.”

The article even gets into where to eat, paddle, shop and sleep after riding the trails.

I’ve been all over Richmond and ridden most of Richmond’s trails. I’ve certainly got my favorites, but as I transition more toward riding lots of miles, I’ve been more interested in connecting several parks together in a long ride, as opposed to trying to ride a particular trail as hard as I can (less damaging to the body and I’m not going to impress anyone with my speed anyway). My current loop preference includes stringing Larus, Powhite and The Wetlands/Pony Pasture parks together. Creating more bikeways and greenways to connect these parks would be a great accomplishment and something I plan to help with in my role as an urban planner.

Recently, I’ve been trying to get back out to some of the parks that I haven’t ridden in a while. For Richmond Outside, I wrote about riding the confusing but challenging network of trails at Poor Farm Park in Hanover County, just outside of Ashland. This past weekend I biked out to Deep Run Park in Henrico County to ride a few loops. It is a very easy park to ride, but it was still fun. My children and I had volunteered with Richmond MORE there in the spring and I had not made it back out to see how the foot bridges that volunteers constructed turned out.

Richmond is lucky to have these trails. Most of them would not have developed without rvaMORE and the hundreds of volunteers who have helped to build and maintain the network. Our tourism boost from the trails is tremendous, but the number of locals who have gotten into riding/running/hiking the trails is even more impressive. Plus, many of those folks have moved closer to the trails network, boosting the property values in the surrounding neighborhoods. If you ride, please consider giving back by donating your time or money to help keep Richmond’s trail system great.

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