The skills park during construction
Though it’s been open to the public for months, the city is holding an official ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow for the Belle Isle bike skills park. If you’ve haven’t gotten a chance to see the park in the middle of the island under the Lee Bridge, tomorrow at 10 a.m. would be the perfect time to check it out. It’s a great place for kids and adults, alike, to hone their skills.
From the city: The City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities 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.
I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?