With spring comes the return of ideal riding weather, and there is no better way to enjoy all that spring riding has to offer than a bike tour or camping trip.
When the topic of bike touring is raised it can conjure up images of epic cross country adventures. Seeing the nation on two wheels. Each day a new adventure. However, for many of us the prospect of dropping life for weeks or months at a time to ride just isn't a realistic one. This doesn't mean we should feel cursed to ride the same loops over and over for eternity. While there is something nice about riding familiar roads, knowing each twist and turn, observing the same scenery change with the seasons, there is a special kind of joy in rides that end somewhere other than where they begin.
Lucky for those of us living in Richmond we have no shortage of places to take overnight or weekend trips to by bike. The Virginia State Park system is not only one of the nation’s best, but is one with many many locations. Several are within a day’s ride from Richmond.
Over the next few blog entries I will be writing about some of the places one can ride to, great routes it get there, and of course gear that makes it possible.
For those looking for first hand experience we are offering a bike camping basics clinic on May 13th focusing specifically on gear. Then starting the weekend of June 3rd. we will be going on several overnight bike camping trips to some of the state parks in the central Virginia area. These are open to all riders. We will provided a suggested route to each park and how to book a campsite (or cabin). These rides are self led and supported but start at a specific time from Outpost to make it easier to find other riders to travel with.
So let’s begin with places to stay.
The closest park to Richmond also happens to be a great “beginner” park for bike camping. Pocahontas State Park offers high amenity campsites, great trails for hiking and biking and even a pool. At less than 20 miles away it’s a great first bike overnight for those new to things or even a perfect way to dust off the old gear and make sure everything is good to go for longer trips. Our first shop camping trip will be here on June 3rd.
At around 30 miles from downtown, we have Powhatan State Park. One of Virginia’s newest state parks Powhatan State Park is on the south side of the James River just west of Maidens. Camp sites here are more basic than at Pocahontas and amenities are more limited. This makes for a perfect 2nd overnight trip.
Next up in distance is Bear Creek Lake State Park. This is my personal favorite for several reasons. The ride out is just shy of 60 miles and goes through some really nice parts of Powhatan and Cumberland Counties. My favorite way to get there takes you through the gravel roads of Cumberland State Forest for an extra dose of fun. Bear Creek Lake has high amenity camping, cabins and one of Virginia’s many man made lakes. Beautiful year round this one is always a winner.
A park I have yet to camp in but is high on my lists of ones to hit this year is Chippokes Plantation State Park. Chippokes is on the south side of the James River east of Surry. It has some great short biking trails, a quiet beach for fossil hunting and both campsites and cabins. This one is a bit over 60 miles away. Most of these miles are on the Virginia Capital Trail bike path. One rides from Richmond to Jamestown then takes the free ferry across the river to Surry. From there it’s just a few more miles of back roads to the park.
Last but not least is Lake Anna State Park. Only a few miles more by distance than Chippokes the terrain makes this trip a bit more of a challenge. Once one gets north of Ashland the terrain constantly rolls making for a longer day in the saddle. However most of the route is on very quiet back roads and means an enjoyable day in the saddle, even if it’s a longer one. The park has plenty of campsites, cabins, swimming and short trails to stretch your legs on after a long ride.
This year we will be taking trips to all but Lake Anna during the spring and summer. Check out our full calendar of events HERE then join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook to learn more about these trips.
Join us May, 13 from 2-4:00pm for this free clinic, space is limited to 20 people.