We are excited to celebrate Bike Month here in RVA, and in Williamsburg! Keep your eyes pealed for our May newsletter full of exciting excursions with us including: Pedal through Petals, a new downtown Richmond tour, a special Mother's Day ride, and more!
If you're looking for some fun, family-friendly events to celebrate bike month, make sure to look at the calendar that Sports Backers has compiled! While we like to think every month is bike month, we are excited to spend May celebrating with fellow bicycle enthusiasts and exploring more of our great city by bike!
Today I stopped in the offices of Brandylane Publishers on First Street in Richmond, Virginia to pickup a few copies of the winter issue of their lovely magazine, Pleasant Living where I am beyond thrilled to be included as a writer with my first ever published piece, Discovery On the James. I hope you will follow the link to the article and click the magazine cover photo to find others in this timeless black & white magazine that honors the river life. This particular issue has many gems, like Dr. Boxwood Tells All by Stephen Southall, Oysters: A taste of the Chesapeake by John L. Jones Jr, and a poignant Editor's Post, Being Polite. Simply stated Pleasant Living is A Magazine for the Chesapeake Bay and River Country, of which the James River and the Virginia Capital Trail are a definite part. I hope you will enjoy the winter reflections on biking and nature in Charles City County, Virginia.
This top-notch local publishing house is soon to be home to my first book of poetry, entitled Flight: Of butterflies, robins and other winged dreams being printed under their Belle Isle Books imprint this spring. Link in to stay in the know on things like the release date and author signings.
I recently posted on Facebook my excitement at receiving Cycle Chic by Mikael Colville-Andersen in the mail just before our big snowstorm. Pages upon pages of men, women, and children biking, empowered by their sense of purpose and fitness propelling them through city streets looking impossibly chic, at home in their own skin, wearing whatever it is that speaks to each as a person. Quite simply, living.
This past year we have been using the hashtag #virginiacyclechic to encourage leisure and commuter biking as a normal and everyday mode of transportation. Taking the guess work out of dressing for your bike, it's about what you want to be wearing when you arrive at your destination, feeling alive, present, and beaming with energy, unencumbered and feeling pretty good about reducing your own carbon footprint. It's about learning about your city and environment through biking.
Looking in the pages of Cycle Chic, I was drawn to black and white photograph of a woman on a bike, wearing tights and a skirt, a big scarf wrapped around her neck as if to brace against a slight chill. The opposite page held a quote by Louis J. Halle from his book on nature, Spring in Washington, 1947 as follows: "Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds."
Wow. Isn't that something. Bicycles. Birds. Flight. Poetry. Published. Funny how like the wheels on a tire these themes are finding a home with Basket & Bike, and so many of you that have echoed similar feelings of the freedom that comes from a ride on a bicycle. To think that more people could be empowered to explore, discover and live - there it is, that word again, live - life more fully by reconnecting with friends and nature by stepping out on a bicycle is, for me, a dream. That more people will be biking the avenues of #1RVA as a way to visit a friend, a museum, or go to the market is exciting.
Thank you for taking a look at my article in Pleasant Living and for your enthusiasm for biking and walking and living real lives in Virginia. Are you ready to ride on the Virginia Capital Trail? Come March, we'll be there with our Signature Tour, and with some exciting new surprises you!
Anne Poarch • Founder RIDE • SAVOR • CONNECT
And my world has shifted yet again.
Yesterday I learned Norse tradition celebrated Christmas on December 21, as Yule, on Winter Solstice, and the sky was burning a beautiful red over the James River at sunset.
Evergreens pervade my thoughts, the very air glows with a softness you can almost touch, lips kissed beneath a clutch of mistletoe, a cheek that brushes past all too fast.
Tall green Christmas trees embrace the heart of home, they fill the void, left by the last light of the old Mother Sun, their branches holding up the blaze.
An expansive presence, they twinkle and they smile with delight and warmth.
They can never stay for long, but while they are here it’s like time stands still, leaving the earth spinning inside, releasing butterflies and robins and other winged dreams to flight once more.
For in the heart of the winter solstice, the laying in of firewood, the planning by the hearth is the promised pulse of birth; that of our Christ child, His passion, the waited-for rebirth of spring.
For the Norse it meant the rebirth of the Sun Goddess.
And so this spring, I shall ride. And I hope you will come along and ride with me. Remembering the paths of our mothers and charting our own. Remembering our age old call to be stewards of this bold beautiful earth.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How lovely are your branches. How evergreen.
Anne Poarch • Founder • Basket & Bike
Fall feels like the perfect time to glide. Maybe we are stepping out into a brilliant crisp day wearing cognac suede boots, or riding bikes along leaf littered paths, a satisfying crunch reverberating beneath tires that flatten acorns, foliage, and send butterflies fluttering in their wake. The day opens wide before us, an endless promise with baskets of sunshine to collect before the retreat to winter. Just now, if you bike past the cotton fields near Shirley Plantation and Upper Shirley Vineyards all will appear as snow on the distant horizon or clouds on the ground. October is a month of profound change in Virginia. We see it on trees, giving off the last of their fruits as leaves start to turn, on doorsteps giving shelter to pumpkins and gourds, and shoulders layering the fresh sweater or favorite scarf. We feel it in the air as cool mornings give way to the rich warmth of a sunny afternoon. October has also given me the opportunity to think about discovery and exploration, and to share the story of Virginia's land and the James River on our Signature Tour, A Journey Along the James. Biking 14 miles along the Virginia Capital Trail, ending with lunch and a wine tasting at Upper Shirley Vineyards, riders hear stories of our collective history and learn how science is making a difference at VCU Rice Rivers Center, where we make a stop, listening for the sounds of nature, and learning how environmental science is being practiced right along the banks of the James River.
In another brush with that exploration the Liaison Committee of The Science Museum of Virginia invited me to speak to their group about Basket & Bike; as a creator, an entrepreneur, and a business owner. As I thought about the best way to deliver my message I turned to my journal, and to that spark that so often finds place on my pages, for inspiration. Here follows some of what I shared with the committee. I am looking forward to taking 15 of these women on their own bicycle excursion along the Virginia Capital Trail followed by lunch at Upper Shirley Winery Restaurant in November, and giving $225 to science, the James River Association and The Science Museum of Virginia.
Science, to me, is how we understand our world - all that’s in it, how all the pieces fit together, our place in the wider cosmos. It’s about asking questions, searching for answers and then sharing with each other what we’ve learned. It’s a journey, really, because we’ll always have more questions to answer, more knowledge to share. We’ll always have more to learn.
That, in a nutshell, is how I came up with the idea for Basket & Bike. My bike opened new worlds to me - new places to discover, so much to learn. And, as I pedaled my way across each little journey, there was so much I wanted to share. I believed others would want to come along for the ride. And, since it’s all about discovery, the basket seemed somehow important to me.
It’s a symbol of the things we take with us - a snack, some cold water, a journal and pen, a scarf - as well as the things we might bring home. A pine cone from a roadside picnic stop at the edge of the forest on a summer’s day. A clutch of colorful leaves in autumn. A book about life on a Virginia plantation four centuries ago on the James. A scallop shell, the Chesapeactan Jeffersonious - our state fossil (did you know we had one?), the size of a dinner plate, found by the shore.
Basket & Bike is a chance for recreation, exercise and good times with friends. It’s also something more. It’s a new way of looking at the beauty around us. A new way of looking at the history that shaped our Commonwealth, and our nation. A new way of looking at ourselves.
Rolling along quietly at twelve miles per hour, you see things you might miss from the car. The laughter of children playing in the schoolyard. A bevy of wild turkeys picking at a freshly cut field of corn. A great blue heron arcing across the sky with the grace of eternity beneath her wings. Our minds are made to ask questions, and to probe for understanding and thought.
Our hearts, though, long to touch places that speak to us as people. To gain the insights of the soul. To feel the rain on our parka, the wind in our hair and the sunshine across our face. We want to be out there, don’t we? We want to glide deeper into beauty and awe. That, to me, is what Basket & Bike is all about.
It’s about reaching a little deeper into the landscape, becoming a bit closer to this place we call home, traveling that great journey of discovery that has the power to enrich our lives, riding through our shared history, savoring the now and connecting us through a courage to build the future together.
Tonight, as pumpkins glow and the earth stirs up her haunted howls, our temperatures will dip into the 40s, and our inner clocks will turn the page to a deeper fall. The November sun will rise upon our saints, across the river, and along our paths. It really is the perfect time to reach for that fresh sweater or favorite scarf, hop on our bicycles, and head out for that last adventure or two, before days shorten our stride. Fall feels like the perfect time to glide.
Anne Poarch • Founder • BASKET & BIKE RIDE • SAVOR • CONNECT
Friday morning, I led a family visiting from Seattle, Washington on our Signature Bicycle Excursion, "The River Where America Began" with lunch at Upper Shirley Vineyard's Winery Restaurant. After a 14-mile bike ride on the Virginia Capital Trail, as we were returning to the vineyard for lunch, I was asked about the deep green plants, dotted with white and bright pink flowers. Did I know what they were? I knew from days spent biking last fall, when I saw the sea of white exploding across the fields, and later wrapped into giant rolls with flamingo pink cellophane after harvest, that it was cotton. But, I was still unsure. These verdant plants looked nothing like the stalks of snow white powder puffs I recalled. I remembered hearing Shirley Plantation keeps cotton planted in some of the fields as a reminder of the hours long sacrifice that many of our ancestors gave, sweating under a warm autumn sun to harvest by hand. But, maybe it is something else? Do they practice crop rotation? I decided then I had to have more confidence and assurance in my answer. My guest riders are looking to me, and all our guides, to be knowledgeable about the history of the area and the interesting things we are seeing in pastoral Virginia. When I led another group on a picnic ride Sunday morning we were delighted by the pretty pops of color that were peeking out from the shiny sea of emerald leaves. And I was even more delighted to say with confidence yes, it is cotton. For the next few weeks you can see cotton blossoms by the James River near Shirley Plantation and Upper Shirley Vineyard. Whether you are there for one of our signature bicycle excursions, to tour the plantation, or to sample a bit of wine and lunch with impressive views of the James River at the vineyard (all of which you can do one one of our rides!) look for these fields dotted with creamy white, yellow and fuschia flowers. Cotton starts with a bud or "square" then opens with a creamy white flower, which once self-pollinated turns this lovely pink before deepening to red, withering as flowers do, and falling off. This makes room for the young boll, shaped liked a tiny football, which matures, turns dark brown and hardens, as fibers grow inside forcing it to crack open to reveal the bright tufts of white that most of us recognize as cotton. Fibrils woven into the magic mystery of a baby's blanket, a summer dress, or just that favorite white t-shirt to which you gravitate, time and again. Watching the fields change with the seasons in Charles City County has been a fascinating part of biking these Virginia country lanes and the Virginia Capital Trail. Come along with us on a bicycle ride, ask us some questions, and we'll find the answers and watch the seasons unfold together!
Ride • Savor • Connect
July 20 - Start your morning with a bike ride and breakfast on an organic farm. @capitaltreesrva takes you from the Low Line along the @virginiacapitaltrail to @victoryfarmsinc for a delightful breakfast made with the fresh flavors of a Virginia summer. Email email@example.com to reserve of for more info. Also check the Basket & Bike Facebook page or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, July 20
Great Shiplock Park to Victory Farms
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my friend, and source of inspiration for our urban bike styling, Felicia Shelton. You may remember her as the first face on the Basket & Bike website. What fun we had on our very first photo shoot. It was a windy, and cold, November day, but the light in the Virginia countryside was perfect.
Felicia keeps up our Basket&Bike Pintrest account and is about to embark on an exciting trip that has real impact for Richmond and Virginia. Traveling to Copenhagen on her own dime, Felicia will be staying in the heart of this city hailed as a shining example for two-wheel travel as a way of life. Cycling in Copenhagen has been made easy for Danes with 200 miles of bike lanes, most added since 2006 when the city made a determined effort to become a biking capital. Commuters, children, teens, moms, dads, the elderly, shoppers, are all darting around town on errands, to work, meetings, to lunch; and looking stylish doing so! Richmond is on the cusp of embracing just such a global cycling culture, adding bike lanes and a bike share program in the heart of the city; linking museums, cafes, popular restaurants, shops and neighborhoods. Basket & Bike encourages biking as an everyday and normal mode of transportation and sees the bicycle as a wonderful extension of your individual style, in any season, right here in Virginia. Be it a flare for dresses, shorts and loafers, jeans and heels, capes, tote bags, or scarves, biking can be freeing and fun.
As Felicia Shelton takes to the bike lanes of Copenhagen June 21 - June 29, she will be in search of the very best fresh ideas to highlight for her own, newly rebranded blog, Non Pave. (Click here or in the title for a terrific blog on Non Pave by Felicia's branding partner, the Routine Creative.) This happy, spirited Richmond public schoolteacher, with a wanderlust and delight for clean Scandinavian styling will bring to Basket & Bike and Richmond a view into who and what we can become on two-wheels. She's traveled the world and lived in France, Sweden and Korea but, FOR NOW, as she likes to say, she sees the beauty and excitement, the energy and light that is RVA.
Richmond already has an outstanding local culture, and is ready for stylish commuter biking to connect to it, with a fresh Virginia breeze on our faces, power in our legs, and the empowerment to change how we choose to live our daily lives, loving life in Richmond, in Virginia, and reducing our carbon footprint on the world. As Felicia highlights in Non Pave, Being ourselves. Feeling at home. On the Road. Basket & Bike is excited to assist Felicia with a photographer in Copenhagen to bring back photos and video highlighting her jaunts via Dutch bicycle to share. Join me in wishing Felicia a very happy Bon Voyage and a hearty thank you for letting us all come along for the ride.
Bisous Felicia • Let's Ride!
Anne Poarch • Founder • Basket & Bike
#ridesavorconnect #virginiacyclechic #basketandbike
The ginkgo trees were shining like spun gold, leaves spinning in the filtered light of a crisp November morning, cascading to earth like flaxen hair or so many drops of honey. My mother bid me stop the car, and bathed in the beauty of the golden trees we reflected and commented on the striking scene. Strange you might think, here on May 12, for my first post as founder of Basket & Bike, a small business offering hand-crafted bicycle excursions, to be set under the fading leaves of a November day. A time six months ago as days were shortening and the Virginia soil was preparing for her winter’s sleep, preparing rest for the bright green and happy growing things we are watching pop all over the Commonwealth right now. Really Anne, the fall? Shouldn’t we talk about the beauty of spring? Well, like the steady rhythm of two bicycle wheels on an endless flat road, at Basket & Bike we like the natural order of life, a slower pace, the progression of nature as she unfolds then turns to rest, only to unfold again.
I don’t recall where we had been or where we were going the day we stopped under the canopy of ginkgo trees, but I do recall that timeless moment and stepping out of the car to find a leaf for my mother. A leaf that, unbeknownst to me, she would press and tape into the back pages of her bible, along with the following notation: “Ginko leaf from tree in Richmond, VA • 2015 - Street has Ginko trees on both sides. A beautiful sight! Very old.”
This would be my mom’s last trip to Richmond. My beautiful mother, Peggy Sander Gibson endowed with the grace, patience and civility of her time, died this past May 2 at the age of 92. I would find the gingko leaf in her bible, while reading to her in her Georgia home this past April.
I led a Mother’s Day Bicycle Excursion along the Virginia Capital Trail this past Sunday. Not an easy task considering the loss of my mother but made beautiful by the kindness of fellow adventurers, the glorious softness that accompanied the spring day and the knowledge that she would want me doing exactly this, a reminder of our first mother-daughter trip to Shirley Plantation when I was new to Richmond in 1992. The group rode comfortable white and navy Priority Bicycles following our Signature Ride, The River Where America Began. Our excursion began by Upper Shirley Vineyard in the unfiltered light of a May Sunday pedaling past grape vines that are helping turn Charles City County into something of a wine and food destination. After our 14 mile ride we would return to the vineyard for lunch and wine, taking in the wonderful food and impressive views of the James River, along with so many other Virginians, coming here for Mother’s Day from Richmond, Williamsburg, Hopewell, Chesterfield, Chester and Petersburg. In a lovely gesture, Upper Shirley welcomed each mother with a long-stemmed tulip.
As our group wheeled along the dedicated bike path, we made little stops to speak about the James River and her land, her shores. We talked about the people, the plants, and the animals that have lived in this part of Virginia for thousands of years. Land that still hums to the cycle of the seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, even if her people have turned away and lost their connection to nature’s watch.
Heading east we stopped in front of VCU Rice Rivers Center, a leading authority on river research focused on expanding environmental knowledge and preserving the health of our natural resources. It was here that one of the mothers, a healing touch practitioner, led us in some basic chi poses to open us to the energy of the day, opening us to the freedom that comes from riding a bicycle in the open air.
Our group paused in the cemetery of historic Westover Episcopal Church reflecting on Virginia’s past mothers. These shores have been home to so many mothers. From Mother Earth and her animal mothers, busy bunnies or birds building nests and keeping babies safe, to native mothers, forming hand-built bowls out of that ground to give to daughters in time-honored rituals. African mothers teaching daughters to blend spices, or to just blend in, so their secret reading lessons would go unnoticed; to English mothers, recording thoughts, keeping poise and decorum in public, while aiding a rebel cause behind closed doors. Strong-willed women, all Virginia women, all essential parts of the land where America began. I thought of my childhood and could see the tender hands of my own mom, gently nursing knees scraped from bicycle falls and teaching my small hands how to properly form biscuit dough with a fork and roll it out using her own mother’s rolling pin.
It was in the spirit of this reflection that we biked past the emerald fields of Evelynton plantation to a sweet little nursery, Root 5 Family Farms. We strolled through the greenhouse showcasing flowers and herbs for the garden, peeking at local jams and honey and ceramics by Fleet Creations. Artist Lesa Fleet crafts ceramic sculptures of leaves from Virginia plants like nasturtium, maple, and could it be, the ginkgo? Staring up at me from the table, a chartreuse ginkgo leaf, showcasing the verdant green of spring. Full circle, or half-way there, could this leaf signal for me the return of life. Though I will miss her physical presence and the touch of her hands so terribly, I feel my mother now pervading the very air around me, living in Virginia with me, in each new day. Our leisurely pace allowed members of the group to hunt for the perfect remembrance to nestle into bike baskets for the return ride to Upper Shirley Vineyard along the trail. The ginkgo leaf rode home with me, in my basket, connecting a then to a now, and beyond.
I do not know whether my mom found a deeper symbol in the ginkgo leaf she chose to bind in her bible. A bit of research uncovered the ginkgo biloba tree, or Maidenhair tree, is considered a living fossil and may be the oldest tree on our planet. It has been known to live for 2,000 years and in the East, it is considered a symbol of longevity, hope, friendship, resilience and peace. Perhaps other mothers have pressed gingko leaves into their family bibles, into service as a medicinal cure, or onto the sides of an earthenware bowl for decoration. In 1815 Goethe wrote a poem titled Gingko Biloba and sent it to his friend, Marianne von Willemer wondering if the divided leaf was one creature becoming two, or two deciding they should become one. Perhaps it’s the undeniable connection of a mother to her daughter, that once one body, eventually faced the realities of separation and so needed the lessons of hope, friendship and resilience. Maybe it is a reminder that spring does not exist without the fall and ensuing rest of winter. That life is lived, and if one is lucky, long-lived, until it lives and breathes again in other forms. Whatever the message, I’ll be looking to take a ride under those yellow ginkgo trees this fall, remembering my mother and letting bicycle wheels hum a steady rhythm under falling gold fans, to stop and practice chi in the filtered light of fall.
Happy Mother’s Day 2016 Anne Poarch - Founder
Virginia's Historic Garden Week is coming up, and we at Basket & Bike couldn't be more excited to be a part of this year's events. With the new season comes the opportunity to showcase the beauty of Richmond's most beautiful homes and gardens and to launch the first of Basket & Bike's hand-crafted tours. To learn more about Historic Garden Week Richmond Tours, April 27-29, 2016, or to sign up for one of Basket & Bike's special Garden Week tours please contact us at email@example.com. To learn more about Historic Garden Week visit http://www.vagardenweek.org/.