September 20, 2016

End to End: Richmond to Williamsburg Winery Ride

 

Since the Capital Trail opened, my dream has been to ride it from Richmond to Williamsburg and spend the night, then ride back. So I jumped at the chance to try the new Williamsburg Winery Cycling Experience in early September. The overnight package includes a room at Wedmore Place on the winery property, dinner at Café Provencal, a wine tasting, couple’s massage, complimentary bottle of wine, bike ride snacks and breakfast. We also opted for luggage delivery.

Our small group left from Shiplock Park in Richmond Sunday morning and set an easy pace. We passed Ronnie’s BBQ, then made a brief bathroom stop at Four Mile Creek Park. We passed Momma Lonnie’s Country Stow at about 15 miles out, and from there the trail was fairly flat and shady until we hit a sunny stretch along a cornfield near Upper Shirley Vineyards.

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On the Capital Trail

About 30 miles outside Richmond we pulled over at Cul’s Courthouse Grill, in Charles City County. Cul’s was closed, but they kindly left a cooler of cold water on the front porch, and a bike pump under a shady tree. A bit further down the road we slipped into Haupt’s Country Store to buy a few ride snacks.

The Winery is about five miles past the end of the trail, accessible either via Jamestown Road or the Colonial Parkway (with scenic views of the water).

We arrived at Wedmore Place tired and hungry, but they were prepared. Valet service parked our bikes and hung our helmets in a climate-controlled garage with individual bike stands. My husband, Eric, and I checked in and took quick showers. Each room is decorated in a different European style, and ours was sunny “Provence” with a canopied bed, antique furniture and a Jacuzzi tub.

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The “Provence” bedroom at Wedmore Place.

For lunch we had raw oysters, burgers and beer on the shady outdoor patio of the Gabriel Archer Tavern. Then we headed to the winery for our reserve wine tasting. We sampled seven of the winery’s 28 wines, and fell for the fruity white Viognier and the clean, balanced Trianon red blend.

After that it was massage time! This wasn’t some fluffy spa massage, but a deep tissue treatment that refreshed all my tired muscles. It reminded me of sports massages I’ve had, and I bounced off the massage table energized for the return trip.

Dinner was a multi-course meal with paired wines. We sampled more oysters, seared scallops, a bruléed watermelon salad, butternut squash soup with savory marshmallow, and thin cut pasta with local mushrooms. It was a treat for hardcore foodies like Eric and me.

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Bergamot-bruléed watermelon with guanciale, basil gel, aged balsamic, sorrel and goat feta.

With breakfast at 8am, we “slept in” until 7:30. I packed my clothes and wine for the luggage delivery service, and pocketed the ride snacks, which included honey stinger waffles, maple syrup gel and a house-made energy bar.

After a breakfast of croissants, quiche and fruit, we headed back home. Retracing our route, I enjoyed the picturesque ride home, admittedly slower and with a few more stops than the day before.

That single overnight was so relaxing that it felt like an entire weekend. Now that I know the trail, I can’t wait to visit Williamsburg Winery again. In fact, our anniversary is coming up, and I’m thinking we may even need to stay two nights.

Williamsburg Winery Cycling Experience at http://williamsburgwinery.com/wessex-hundred-cycling-experience

Posted by: Guest Blogger, Phaedra Hise (a freelance writer and contributing food editor for Virginia Living)

 

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August 30, 2016

Four Miles of Happy Space

The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it ‘annihilates space.’ It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from travelling ten.  C.S. Lewis, “Surprised by Joy”

 

Not long ago, I coaxed a good friend onto a bike for a ride on a gravel road.  She’s in her fifties, fit and comfortable walking and running on trails.  But for some reason, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been on a bike.  The look on her face during those first few pedal strokes still puts a smile on my face.  “I feel like I’m ten again!” she said with unabashed glee.

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As we pedaled along a fire road towards a dinner destination in downtown Richmond, my friend’s wonderment increased as she saw a part of the city she’d never explored before.  It was only four miles, but it was four miles of a brand new world.

She could drive to Shockoe Bottom from her West End home, a 15- minute trip of twelve miles.  In that trip, she’d see I-64 then the Expressway, then likely park in a garage and walk a couple blocks to the restaurant.

Instead, as we rode, we saw people running and cycling and walking dogs.  We heard birds, the river, people talking and laughing.  As we traversed the undulating footbridge hanging under the Lee Bridge, we stopped and enjoyed the view: Downtown RVA served up by the James River.

Four miles and forty-five minutes absorbing sights, sounds and happy energy versus twelve miles and fifteen minutes of staring out the window watching it whiz by.

How cool, looking at a bike as a way to enjoy space.  There’s so much out there, and the slower we move through it, the happier we’ll be.

See you on the trail!

Posted by: Beth Weisbrod, VCTF Executive Director

 

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August 16, 2016

Rules of the Trail

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A wise man (woman?) once said,  “Treat others as you want to be treated.” This is one of the most basic rules that have been instilled in us since grade school yet it seems that as we begin to grow older our application of this “golden rule” seems to have diminished greatly. The Virginia Capital Trail seems to be no exception to experiencing its fair share of lack of manners and obeying of the rules.

As someone who has just recently begun to interact with the cycling community, it is easy to see why cyclists are seen as the “bullies” of the Trail — cyclists are not only moving at a faster pace than everyone else on the Trail, but they are also doing so with an expensive piece of equipment between their legs, and usually while traveling in groups.   All factors of which may create a superiority complex leading one to think they “own” the Trail. I want to point out that in no way am I classifying every cyclist as a bully or rule breaker, but I do believe that many times the Trail is incorrectly defined as an exclusive cycling space, with those who use the Trail to run, walk dogs, and simply explore the area being put at the mercy of local cyclists. For these reasons, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to a quick (and honest) review of a few of the rules that everyone should adhere to while using the Trail:

  1. Leave no trace – This rule is pretty simple. As the Trail is still fairly new, we want to keep it looking beautiful and clean for future trail users. For this reason all trail users should dispose of all trash in the proper waste areas.
  2. Stay to the right, pass on the left – Because there is two-way traffic on the Trail, it is imperative that all trail users abide by this rule so as to avoid confusion and injury. While passing fellow bikers and pedestrians, cyclist should always let others know that they are passing with a simple bell ring or “passing on your left”; notice how I said simple, as there is nothing worse than an aggressive/obnoxious command to move aside.
  3. Treat others as you want to be treated – I know it sounds juvenile to say out loud (see above) but when all else fails this is a handy rule to fall back on. It is safe to assume that if you’re using the Trail, whether you’re an individual who is new to the healthy living scene or an expert who is in the best shape of your life, you desire to have an enjoyable and safe time on the Trail. Following this rule will ensure that happens.

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Posted by: Keshara Moore, VCTF Intern

 

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August 2, 2016

How outdoors exercise can make you happier

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We all know that physical exercise, in general, helps us stay healthy.  We also know that getting outside is fun and good for us.  However, research shows that outdoor exercise has benefits not only for our body but also for our mood. Here are a few simple tips to can exercise outside, stay healthy, and have fun!

Overall Benefits of Exercise

Participating often in physical activity, regardless of the setting, has measurable benefits. These include both our physical and mental health, such as:

Improved cardiovascular health.

Lower blood pressure.

Lower “bad” cholesterol.

The release of endorphins in the brain.

Reduced levels of stress and anxiety.

Being physically active in general is just a good idea for maintaining overall health. However, when you incorporate outdoor exercise into your routine, you get more “bang for your buck.”

Longer Sessions with Outdoor Exercise

Research studies have shown that people who exercise outdoors wind up being active for longer periods of time. This is opposed to those who only workout indoors. In one study, participants wore tracking devices while they exercised. One group was indoors, the other group exercised outside, often by walking. The outdoors group ended up exercising thirty minutes more, on average, than the indoor group! So, just by choosing outdoor activities, you may be getting a longer workout and not even notice it.

Cross-Training and Outdoor Exercise

Outdoor exercise also allows you to activate different muscles and parts of your body than you do while working out in the gym. There have been studies that show people who workout outside flex their ankles more when running. Running outside also involves going downhill, which uses different muscle groups. Runners who used a treadmill burned less energy than runners who were outside.

Mental Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Clearly, outdoor exercise has physical benefits that can have an impact on your mood. But just being outside can have a positive impact on your mood too. A research study was performed on people who struggle with “morbid rumination” — aka brooding — and who lived in urban areas. The participants were split into two groups and had their brains scanned. They also filled out questionnaires regarding their mood. They then participated in physical activity. One group walked on established paths with trees and the other group walked along a busy highway. Afterwards, they again filled out questionnaires and were re-scanned. The highway group still had mood problems, but those who were on the wooded path showed that they were less moody and had a better mindset.

How to Get More Outdoor Exercise

The connection between exercise, the outdoors, and mental health is clear. So how can you get more outdoor exercise? Consider these ideas:

When taking a break at work, leave the building. Even five minutes can make a big difference.

During longer breaks or a lunch hour, take a walk in a community park.

When planning workouts, include local trails and greenways for routes. Some communities have trails with exercise stations.

Include your family in late-afternoon or weekend adventures.

Use cross-training techniques to mix things up and maximize your workouts. Do you like to run, why not try cycling? Like, ehem, on the Capital Trail?

Just throwing a daypack over your shoulder and going for a walk on a trail can help.

Know Your Resources for Getting Outdoor Exercise

When brainstorming ideas for getting outdoors, do some research into what is available near where you live. Reaching out to local clubs and organizations like the Virginia Capital Trail can be a good way to learn what’s around. There are also groups on social media sites that organize group rides, hikes, and other activities.

Being outside is not just good for your body, it’s also good for your mind. To get more outdoor exercise, get creative with your exercise plans, try a new sport, and get to know what’s available in your area. By doing so you can not only get more outdoor exercise but have more fun too!

 

Posted by: Mark Loewen, VCT Guest Blogger

Mark Loewen is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Richmond, VA. He helps men and women overcome stressful events and circumstances, and feel happier. He is also the owner of LaunchPad Counseling (Link to: www.launchpadcounseling.com). Mark has a newly acquired love for cycling and completed his first Cap to Cap Century Ride in 2016!

 

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July 26, 2016

Trail Bites: 5 places to Stop Along the Trail for Some Great Food

One great thing about the Virginia Capital Trail is that there are some awesome places to stop and get some really great food. Whether you’re biking, walking, or jogging there’s nothing better than stopping for some great food and friendly faces! Here are some of our favorites:

Whisk:  If you’re looking for something sweet, Whisk is a great place to go for a nice treat after your ride into Richmond. Located in the former Globehopper space on E. Main Street just up the hill from the Virginia Holocaust Museum, Whisk is a cute bakery with friendly staff.  Their bakery items are different, delicious and well worth the trip up the hill!

Whisk

Address:  2100 East Main Street – Richmond, VA 23223

Momma Lonnie’s Country Stow:  A new convenience store located off of New Market road, a great place to take a break and grab some snacks. And they love trail users! Stop in for some delicious lemonade, and you’re likely to see another trailie taking a break.

MommaLonnie's

Address: 5164 New Market Rd – Richmond, VA 23231

Upper Shirley Vineyards:  Located near mile marker 30, Upper Shirley has a restaurant as well as wine tastings, and it’s a relaxing place to go for a nice afternoon treat! With beautiful views and good wine, what more could you ask for?

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Address:  600 Shirley Plantation Rd – Charles City, VA 23030

Ronnie’s BBQ:  Some great barbeque! A ride to Ronnie’s alone is a great trip in itself! Stop by for what’s considered some of the best BBQ in the area! We recommend the ribs!

Ronnie's

Address:  2097 New Market Rd – Henrico, VA 23231

Cul’s Courthouse Grille:  Our favorite Charles City stop with great food and friendly staff! I recommend Sherri’s Chicken Club Sandwich, which happens to be named after one of our wonderful trail supporters, Sherri Bowman!

Cul's

Address:  10801 Courthouse Rd – Charles City, VA 23030

Posted by: Casey Koko, VCTF Intern

 

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July 19, 2016

Just how bike friendly is Richmond and where does the Capital Trail fit into it all?

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Photo Credit: Chris O’Brien

Thanks to Richmond hosting the UCI Road World Championships last year, the city has been swept up in quite the whirlwind in terms of considering itself an increasingly bike-friendly city. But now that the city is 9 months out from the race, if you really take a hard look at Richmond and the strides it has taken to be more bike friendly, just how far has the city come? As a marketing intern at the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation I not only get to see the inner workings of what it takes to maintain the trail on a daily basis, but also have gotten a better understanding of how the trail may be impacting Richmond’s evolution into a bike friendly city.

The Good

 

Keshara2Completion of the Virginia Capital Trail – Officially opened just one month after the UCI Championships, the trail was a relief for many central Virginians (cyclists and runners alike) as up until that point the closest major trails were the James River Park trails and the Pocahontas State Park trail, all of which are unpaved.  Spanning from Richmond all the way to Williamsburg (51.7 miles!), the trail’s reception has been fantastic, with well over 2,000 hits a day on the trail counters.  City officials have also taken an active role in partnering with the VCTF to keep it well maintained.  We see this as an active step forward in welcoming cycling enthusiasts and keeping them safe. With the installation of fix-it stations, the rise in trail-based businesses and rest stops, (including someone’s plans to begin a bike shuttle), as well as the success of the Foundation’s Cap2Cap Bike event, I see on a daily basis just how much the opening of the VCT has impacted the biking community and put Richmond on the radar as a city with the potential to be a great bike-friendly city.

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The Bad

 

Keshara3The Bike City Master Plan – What separates Richmond from other popular bike friendly cities in the U.S. such as Boulder, Boston, and Portland? A very car centric ethos.  Here at the Foundation we’ve gotten a number of complaints about cars riding on the trail and from the picture taken by RVA Coffee Stain located below there seems to be a lack of respect and/or knowledge on the part of motorist towards bikers. Though a big part of Richmond Bike City Master Plan is to construct a number of buffered bike lanes to make the city more bike-friendly, such infrastructure changes will only prove effective if motorist are willing to share the road. It is these types of attitudes that negatively impact the growth Richmond is trying to undergo, and much of which I have gotten a firsthand look at as I manage the trail’s Facebook page and maintain ace/complaint log. Because of my new perspective I sincerely believe that in order for the Richmond master plan to be successful we must not only focus on infrastructure changes, but bike culture in the city overall and how it is received.

Posted by: Keshara Moore, VCTF Intern

 

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July 11, 2016

Barriers to Entry

A lot of my contemporaries have yet to try the Virginia Capital Trail.  “I don’t have a bike”, they say. Or,  “I don’t know how to get there.”  Or, “I don’t have the right clothes.”  These are smart people who buy things at retail stores and use Google maps all the time.  I know from experience how these small obstacles take something that is very doable and make it doable another day.  Another day that keeps turning into another day.   Why?  Fear?

I’d like to give you a gentle nudge to GET OVER IT.  When someone is on the Virginia Capital Trail for the first time, whether walking, running or riding a bike, their face shows absolute joy.  For people my age, it’s usually because they haven’t been on a bike in twenty years and they feel like a kid again when they first start to pedal.  For recreational cyclists, it’s the very unfamiliar feeling of being safely separated from car traffic.  For families, it’s discovering an activity everyone can do together and, in all likelihood, enjoy.

You wouldn’t miss a party because you didn’t have the right clothes, right?  You wouldn’t skip vacation because you’d never been there before, right? Go.  Get a bike (anything with pedals is perfect). Get clothes (shorts and a T-shirt).  Then click here (http://virginiacapitaltrail.org/trail/map/) to find your way to the Virginia Capital Trail.

Here’s how it’s done.

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See you on the Trail!

Beth Weisbrod
Executive Director
Virginia Capital Trail Foundation