Four Richmond cyclists have been working since last fall to get the gears turning for a 300-acre bike training center and action resort near the Watkins Center at 288 and Midlothian in Chesterfield Co
Four Richmond cyclists have been working since last fall to get the gears turning for a 300-acre bike training center and action resort near the Watkins Center at 288 and Midlothian in Chesterfield County.
Called Velo City, the resort would be a biker’s dream with amenities for bmx riders, mountain and road bikers and even equipment for avid marathon cyclists. It will also have features similar to an amusement park to attract families.
The founders have plans for an indoor velodrome, indoor BMX track, indoor and outdoor mountain bike tracks, indoor and outdoor restaurants, a locker room and even a themed hotel adjacent to the resort to attract out of towners.
Did I mention it was going to be massive? RVA Mag had the chance to sit down with Matt Gray and Tom Doyle, two of the founders behind the project to have them explain what it is, why they picked Chesterfield County and how they plan to pull it off.
“Chesterfield County is growing, I’ve been here for 38 years, basically grew up here and I’ve seen it go from nothing to a large population and I’ve seen the athletic side of it grow as far as people riding and I think Chesterfield needs something like this,” said co-founder of Velo City Matt Gray.
Gray said it’s going to be more than just a training facility and have a “Walt Disney” atmosphere to it.
“It’s not just open to cyclists, families can come and enjoy the restaurants we have in there and watch all the action we have going on in there on a daily basis,” said Gray.
Guests will be able to bring their own bikes and ride or rent a bike from Velo City. The main building will house several different cycling venues including a large velodrome.
“It’s sort of like a Nascar track, but for cycling,” he said.
The image below is sketch of the entrance into Velo City. The bridge is part of the road course that cyclists will ride on. In the background is the main building that houses the velodrome track.
“Off the main building, there’s going to be a circuit course or road course that’s a two lane paved course that goes around the whole outer perimeter of the facility,” Gray said. “It’s going to be well lit so they can do it at night.”
The entrepreneurs also have an area for bikers separate from the main building called “Crit Village”, (pictured below) which will be a replica of city streets that cyclists can ride on.
“Another style of racing which they’ve had downtown; they’ll block off several city blocks and you’ll race around and around sort of like indycar racing,” Gray said. “There’s no place to train for that, his will be like the most unique thing where you replicate city blocks.”
Doyle added that there will also be an indoor mountain bike skills course that’s geared for families and kids. They are planning to have a zipline, an amphitheater with live music and an indoor surf area to attract families as well.
With the location at 288 and Midlothian Turnpike, both Doyle and Gray think it’s a prime spot to draw people from all over the city.
“The location of the interstate coming through here there’s even an off ramp coming right into the facility so that helps out with people seeing it,” Gray said.
The duo said they’re also hoping to draw people not just locally, but people nationally and internally to stay and train or enjoy by putting in a themed-hotel next to the resort.
“It could also be a week-long five to six day vacation destination,” Doyle said.
Gray said they plan to hold regular events and races for spectators to come and watch as a way to attract people to the facility.
Gray has been riding and racing for over 30 years and when he was younger rode for the Signet Bank Cycling Team. He doesn’t race anymore, but it’s still one of his main passions.
Doyle worked in IT for Phillip Morris for 30 years and now owns Smart Cycling Academy, a bicycle fitting and maintenance shop in Midlothian based out of Conte’s Bicycle Shop.
Gray and Doyle met back in the 80’s and are planning the venture along with two other local avid cyclists, Tom Wright and Fred Arrieta.
The founders haven’t broken ground just yet, but are currently working to raise funds for the feasibility study, which Gray said will cost $22,000. The entire project will cost around $100 million according to Doyle and Gray who hope are looking for investors and hoping to start the build-out phase within the year.
“There’s a couple investors I’ve floated it across, but still waiting to hear,” Gray said. “Mainly trying to get the word out and get the public behind it.”