Learn To Ride, Love To Ride

Belle Isle was selected for the location because the area is in close proximity and easily connected to the park’s existing 16 miles of multi-use trails.  Photos Courtesy Of Richmond Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities

Belle Isle was selected for the location because the area is in close proximity and easily connected to the park’s existing 16 miles of multi-use trails.

Photos Courtesy Of Richmond Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities

place to build the training area. It made sense because the area is in close proximity and easily connected to the park’s existing 16 miles of multi-use trails.

Concept plans were developed for both the on-road- and off-road training facilities. The off-road facility was to be built first, and through the stakeholder committee, members of the International Mountain Biking Association were invited to assist in developing the plan and branding for the park.

At first glance, it seemed unlikely that the $150,000 to $200,000 needed for the off-road facility could be collected; however, after the amassing of 523 volunteer hours, repurposing large granite curbstones and boulders stored throughout the city, and collecting 3,000 cubic yards of dirt from city-owned cemeteries, the estimate was reduced to $60,000. The city’s Department of Public Works delivered all the materials, greatly lowering costs.

A Place To Practice

To build the facility, RaMORE assisted in obtaining grant funding from REI, the national outdoor-gear retailer, as well as funding a contract with Ben Blitch of Alpine Trails, a well-known and widely respected trail builder.

The Off-Road Bike Skills Training Area opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration on September 29, 2012. The ceremony was attended by city officials, park lovers, and biking enthusiasts of all ages anxious to try out their biking skills in the new rock gardens and on the pump tracks, log and rock skinnies, and other obstacles that simulate the experiences encountered on actual trails.

The city now has a facility that not only provides the area’s biking enthusiasts the opportunity to improve their trail-riding skills, but also allows almost anyone to learn biking skills so they can enjoy the James RiverPark’s famed trails and pass on those memories of a first bike ride through the woods. With 30 to 40 people using the site on any weather-permitting day, the facility is already serving as a place where the off-road cycling community can meet, connect, support each other, and help spread even more enthusiasm for biking in Richmond!

Nathan Burrell is the Trails Manager for the City of Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities and has led national seminars on trail building.

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Related posts:

  1. Bridges To Trails
  2. Gaining Ground
  3. A Place By The Same Name
  4. Have Path, Will Travel
  5. Horsepower

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