Whether you call it a biking binge or a biking boom, there’s one thing that’s certain about the United States’ populace: It likes to get around on two wheels.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, 4 billion Americans traveled by bicycle in 2009, the latest year for which data is available. That’s up from 1.7 billion in 2001.
The growth in the bike commuting has been especially strong in the East and Atlantic. For example, in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee, bicycle commuting – whether for recreational or professional purposes – has risen more than 100 percent from 2005 to 2013, based on data from the National Household Travel Survey done by LAB. Included among these states is Virginia. And for good reason, because the commonwealth is teeming with bike paths and trails that make it a bicycling enthusiast heaven on earth.
Need proof? In September, the UCI Road World Championships will get going in Richmond, taking place from the 19th through the 27th. The competition, touted as the world’s premier cycling event, is held in a new city every year. Cities around the globe put in bids to host the event, and in a system very similar to the Olympics, are chosen based on the municipality’s conditions, ability to handle a surge in tourism and other factors. As many as 1,000 athletes are expected to participate in this year’s event.
If you’re unfamiliar with the biking scene in Richmond, MTB Project, which is affiliated with the International Mountain Bicycling Association, amasses a huge list of fun, adventurous places to ride throughout the country. Here are a few of the gems located in Richmond:
In the heart of downtown Richmond is James River Park, a ride that altogether lasts nearly two and a half hours and stretches over 16 miles. The trails that you’ll go down include Buttermil k East, Buttermilk Heights, North Bank Trail, Dogwood Dell Loop, and Belle Isle.
Spread out over approximately 23 miles is a fun ride in Pocahontas State Park. There are three trails during this ride, the Box Turtle Trail, Morel Ravine Trail, and Tall Oaks Trail. MTB Project notes that it’s a good idea to bring lots of bottled water, especially if you’re riding in the early afternoon hours as it can get pretty humid, even at higher elevations.
Everyone has different skill levels, so for the biking “newbies,” this ride is for you. It starts on 14th Street at the Mayo Bridge, flows under the Interstate 95 bridge, and continues on to Ancarrow’s Landing Trail once you cross over a gravel road. People that have taken this track say it’s ideal for novice riders.
MTB Project has a list of several other places you can visit, both for on-road biking and unpaved paths that mountain bikers are sure to enjoy.