J and I decided to take the boys down to the Belle Isle skills park yesterday morning. We met up around 10:30, and soon after ran into an acquaintence and his two boys. I had met him at a Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day event a couple of years ago and J used to work with him. We spent most of the time chatting while the boys rode, played, and just had a downright good time.
After the skills park, J suggested we go to the south side of Belle Isle and play around on the slick rock. Believe it or not, I have never ridden over there and it was a hoot. Fifty percent of us ended up in the drink. First, T rode headlong into a “puddle” that was about a two-foot hole. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it, but I did hear it. As I came around the corner, he was very emphatic that I NOT ride through the puddle.
Later, J was riding this cool rock skinny feature with water on both sides. The third time was not a charm. He hit a slick spot on the left and his front end slid out. He came off the bike, but his momentum carried him forward and he landed totally submerged in a small pool of water. A few scrapes and bruises, both on him and on the Stumpy, but all was well. His phone was even working.
The boys had as much fun exploring the rocks and looking for fish as I did riding different lines around the massive rock slabs. Eventually we headed back across Belle Isle, over the pedestrian bridge, and down to the parking area. J & A headed home, but T wanted to show me the Christopher Newport Cross that he saw on a field trip.
So down the road we went toward Brown’s Island riding through a cool little garden area, stopping to see some guys doing back flips off a rope swing under the railroad, and looking for fish in the canal. There are some big cats down there. We made our way across Brown’s Island to the Canal Walk proper and obeyed the “no bikes” rule by walking them a ways to reach the cross. On the way, we stumbled upon a collection of cool murals.
After making our way back to Brown’s and hopping back on the bikes, we stopped at a shady spot and had a snack. Moving again, if only briefly, we stopped on the canal bridge so T could spot catfish again. Seriously, there are some monsters down there. I chatted with the guy from Riverside Outfitters, who now have a remote location on the island renting kayaks, SUPs, and mountain bikes.
All in all, we spent nearly four hours tooling around various parts of the James River Park System. It’s truly an awesome resource and I foresee it only getting better. I loved not being on any schedule and letting T lead the way, and I can’t wait for the next time.
You see people, there are always new things to do and new adventures to have, and often they can be right under your nose. Now get out there and play.