Richmond’s cycling history on exhibit at The Valentine

This ordinary bicycle is the oldest is The Valentine's collection.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Ahead of the UCI Road World Championships, The Valentine is opening a new exhibit to show just how large a role cycling has played in Richmond since the late 1800’s. In Gear: Richmond Cycles includes nearly 140-years of the region’s cycling history.

Today outside The Valentine, sparks flew as a welder worked on a piece of artwork that will be on display. Inside, more subtle finishing touches were underway. There is close attention paid to every piece of In Gear: Richmond Cycles ahead of the exhibit’s opening to the public on Friday.

“This is the oldest bike in The Valentine collection,” curator David Voelkel points out an ordinary bicycle, known for its large front wheel, enjoyed by the wealthiest residents.

There are also nods to a rite of passage for the youngest riders. Generations ago, they could not wait until the day when they could deliver newspapers throughout the City.

“We have several bikes that speak to that story, including a 1937-38 Western Flyer boys bike that was used by a Richmond newsboy in the 1940’s,” Voelkel explains.

The livelihood of some Richmond families also depended on bicycles.

“Rowlett’s opened in 1917 and was with us until just a few years ago, so many generations. And you have the Agee family, as well, starting with maybe bicycle repair and then launching into bicycle retailers.”

Local artist Chris Milk installed some of his bright bike creations outside to draw in visitors.

Chris Milk puts finishing touches on his creations outside The Valentine.
Chris Milk puts finishing touches on his creations outside The Valentine.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected for the UCI Road World Championships. Hosting the event is a major first for Richmond, but Voelkel says everything making up In Gear proves the City has been breaking ground in the cycling world from the beginning.

In Gear: Richmond Cycles will be open to the public at The Valentine from August 28 through January 3.

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