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Posted In: Mountain Biking

Progress on Pocahontas SP mountain bike trails

April 7, 2014 1:47pm

The push for the Richmond Regional Ride Center was launched last April with a $50,000 budget amendment from Governor Bob McDonnell and a matching $50,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation.

The Richmond Regional Ride Center would include the downtown trails (show here) and the new Pocahontas Trails. Credit: Jesse Peters

The Richmond Regional Ride Center would include the downtown trails (show here) and the new Pocahontas SP trails. Credit: Jesse Peters

A year later, the total amount raised is up to $200,000 of the $800,000 needed to put 35 or so miles of mountain-bike optimized singletrack in Pocahontas State Park in time for the World Road Cycling Championships in September 2015. It’s a significant improvement, but still $600,000 short of the goal, said Greg Rollins, President of local mountain bike-advocacy group Richmond MORE.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association is in charge of the project, and “about 22 miles of trail tread have been laid out,” said Rollins. “IMBA has mapped the essential trail corridors. They’ve picked an area and decided what kind of trails to put in there.”

In the next month or so construction will begin.

“The plan is to start putting in gateway trail within the next month,” Rollins said. “Gateway would be beginner and handcycle trail. Some of that work needs to start before July… because of the state money that was put in.”

The new singletrack at Pocahontas would be combined with the many miles of downtown trails Richmond already has to qualify the area as an official IMBA Ride Center, of which there are only 17 worldwide.

Rollins explained that some of this second batch of money has come from anonymous donors, and $80,000 has come from a Trek trail-building fund that IMBA can pull from for projects of this magnitude. In addition, there are a number of grants out there that are in some stage of development. One is for federal money through the Recreational Trails Program. That could “be upwards of $200,000,” Rollins said. “We should know about that in the next few weeks.”

The ride center project is also a finalist, with three other locations on the East Coast, for a $33,000 grant from Bell Helmets. That money will be awarded based on social media participation starting in May (check back here for updates on how to participate).

Riders hit the trails at Pocahontas State Park. Credit: Phil Riggan

Riders hit the trails at Pocahontas State Park. Credit: Phil Riggan

Rollins stressed that the $800,000 will pay for just the trails and a gravel parking lot. An additional $1.4 million will be needed to build a trailhead with restrooms and other amenities.

“I think (the trails are) going to happen,” he said. “I think the infrastructure piece (the trailhead) is going to be longer term, mostly because building stuff on state property is hugely expensive.”

About Andy Thompson

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?