Wednesday, September 26, 2012

City to Open New Bike Skills Training Area on Belle Isle

The department will open its new Belle Isle Bike Skills Area on Saturday, September 29, at 10 a.m. with a celebration that will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, demonstrations, and tours. The public is invited to attend and to bring their bicycles to try out the mountain bike training area.
     “I encourage residents and visitors to come discover the Belle Isle Bike Skills Training Area as it is another step Richmond is taking to create bike-friendly, outdoor tourist attractions, as we prepare for the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in 2015,” comments Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The benefits of cycling are tremendous to our city in many ways, including our efforts to encourage city residents to get active and adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
      The new training area is located within the James River Park on Belle Isle across from the Tredegar Street suspension bridge. It includes a beginner and expert pump track, rock gardens, and log and rock skinnies in addition to other features. Bicyclists can learn to handle these obstacles and challenges, which they will find on the trails throughout the James River Park, in a controlled environment.
     “This site, which has been built largely with the labor of volunteers who love mountain biking, will provide a place to learn and practice mountain biking skills and introduce the fun of mountain biking as a recreational activity to a much larger audience,” said Dr. Norman C. Merrifield, director of the department.
      In addition, while this new facility provides “off-road” training, the city also has plans to add an “on-road” training component on Belle Isle adjacent to this site. The on-road training facility will provide a place for children and adults to become competent bicyclists, as well as learn and practice the skills needed to ride safely in an urban environment. 
     “The James River Park is already known throughout the East coast and internationally for its outstanding network of urban mountain biking trails. Now with the addition of this skills area Richmond has enhanced its reputation as a ‘bike city,’” said Jakob Helmoldt, the city’s bicycle, pedestrian and trails coordinator.
      Organizations that provided volunteers who helped construct the new training site, as well as in-kind donations, include the Friends of the James River Park, the James River Outdoor Coalition, the Richmond Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, the International Mountain Biking Association, Virginia Bicycling Federation, Hands-On Greater Richmond, SportsBackers, Altria, Luck Stone, Tektonics Design Group, Sattler Creative, Alpine Trails, Dreaming Creek, and Green Side Up Landscaping.
     The Belle Isle Skills Area is free to use and is open from sunrise to sunset. For more information, call (804) 646-5733 or visit