As someone who is on a bicycle a lot, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about the Capital Trail from folks who might be best described as “bike curious”. The Trail has quickly become one of my personal favorites, so I threw the topic to Brett from Cylus Bike Shop on Jefferson Avenue and Glenn from Shift Bicycles on 18th Street.
TOP PHOTO Tom Saunders (VDOT) via fodors
“My advice is start with whatever you have, ” says Shift Bicycles’ Glenn Amey. “The Capital Trail is smooth so wide knobby mountain bike type tires are going to be sluggish. A great upgrade to one’s bike is to look at some high quality tires that are selected specifically for the type of riding the Capital Trail offers.” Brett and Glenn both say that the minimum cost of a decent new bike will cost run you $400-500. “For the casual rider this may be the last bike they ever need,” says Glenn.[sep] [sep]
“It’s important finding a bicycle that fits you properly and gets you excited to ride, ” explains Brett from Cyclus. “I recommend going to local shops and test riding bikes in your price range. There are 32 bike shops in greater Richmond, all with amazing bike options. Go explore. Buying a bicycle online or from a dept store might be cheaper initially, but often times the cost of assembly or cheap parts will catch up with you.” Both shops offer new bicycles for sale and daily rentals, and Cyclus usually has a few used bikes on hand as well. The $30 rentals from Cyclus or Balance are solid and simple bikes for getting out and enjoying the Capital Trail and other spaces around Richmond. “We supply you with a helmet and a lock. If we aren’t in when you get back just lock up out front,” says Brett. If you have a ball on your rental bike, Glenn will knock the rental fee off of the retail price of a new bike.[sep] [sep]
“I also think the nature of the Capital Trail lends itself for some … to get a true road style bike. Drop style bars, really skinny tires and a fast ride […] Prices really open up at this point as materials and technology have a field day,” says Glenn. “A happy medium for some would be a touring style bike. Drop style handlebars but fitted with a more upright cockpit for all day comfort.[…] Fenders, lights and racks belong on this bike where the emphasis is not on ultralight racing speeds but rather riding any distance ones chooses at their own pace rain or shine.”[sep] [sep]
The Capital Trail offers a great experience for however many miles you can put in. The first piece along Dock Street and past Rocketts is beautiful. There is an iconic view of the Richmond skyline from that initial hill up out of the city. After that climb, there aren’t many hills. “I had a rental customer ride 70 miles for his 70th birthday,” says Brett. “I really couldn’t believe it, and asked his secret. I just didn’t stop moving.’ […] A little over halfway, there is a great farmhouse restaurant with a super chill patio. A few miles before the trail ends you can stop and enjoy camping on Chickahominy River. […] The end of the trail in Jamestown is worth the few extra pedals, ending in a beautiful water view.” “Chickahominy Camping… 40 miles is surprisingly doable if you have all day,” says Glenn. “In fact if it were any shorter you would get there too early and be bored. […] I am pleased to offer advice in the shop about choice of tent/bag/cooking gear and how to carry it.”[sep]