richmondoutside – Views from the Treehouse

Charles Merritt and his team at Buddy Insurance offer something novel: On-demand accident insurance for mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking and any other outdoor pursuit (except wingsuiting). Find out why they think the concept will fly…

When Anne Poarch tired of a career in financial services, she turned to hospitality and showcasing the region she loves. Five years later, Basket and Bike, her bike-touring brainchild is growing steadily — showing visitors and locals alike how to slow down and enjoy the ride.

In the world of paddlers, mountain bikers, surfers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, “dirtbag” isn’t a pejorative; it’s a lifestyle choice, one Michael Stratton — local kayaker, ultrarunner, and MTBer — lives despite also holding down at least one real job. Stratton straddles worlds, but it’s hard to keep a girlfriend when home has no heat and a sleeping bag beckons every night.

What do you do when your Phd work isn’t doing it for you anymore? If you’re local Richmonder, Max Pendergraph, you take a sabbatical to work for Backroads bike touring company. And when you realize guiding trips and fixing bikes is your true passion?…Well, why not just go for it?! Check out what Max is doing to help people plan and have an awesome experience on long distance cycling trips throughout Virginia and beyond.

This summer Virginia became the 12th state to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation. Meet Cass Rasnick; she’s in charge.

For a year and a half, Andy Thompson and Matt Perry have put the questions to Richmond’s outdoor recreation leaders. Now they’re on the other side of the table, bringing in a guest host to help interview each other about how they got to this point in their outdoor lives. In this second installment, Andy Thompson and Brad Cooke, Collegiate School’s Director of ‘Outdoor Collegiate,’ interview Matt Perry on the past, present and future of his own outdoor pursuits and where the RVA outdoor rec scene is headed.

For a year and a half, Andy Thompson and Matt Perry have put the questions to Richmond’s outdoor recreation leaders. Now they’re on the other side of the table, bringing in a guest host to help interview each other about how they got to this point in their outdoor lives. In this first installment, Matt Perry and Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream owner, Will Herring, grill Thompson on the past, present and future of his own outdoor pursuits and where the RVA outdoor rec scene is headed.

Buck Robinson is a co-founder of Outdoor Access, the Richmond-based company that wants to pair landowners with hunters, anglers, campers and other outdoorsy types. Can his model become the AirBnB of the outdoors?

You’ve seen the bumper sticker: “Quit Bitching. Start a Revolution.” That’s how Brian Bell rolls. Instead of complaining about all the litter he saw in the outdoors, the veteran hiker started a non-profit to do something about it.

It’s been over a year since, Ralph White, the legendary James River Park manager joined us for our first-ever Views from the Treehouse podcast. That inaugural effort is still our most listened to episode, so we brought Ralph back to help us celebrate, teach us about salamander sex and let us in on his secret firefly watching spot (and more). This one is not to be missed! 

As Richmond’s sustainability czar, Alicia Zatcoff tries to encourage best practices in everything from recycling to vehicle fleet emissions. But this isn’t a battle you win in a year — or 20.

Former Richmond Ski Club President Mike Larson explains the club’s staying power by taking us on a world tour of winter wonderlands (and much more) 

Shay Wilson thinks slowing down and seeing nature like an artist can change our relationship with the outdoors. Wondering how that works? Take her class.

Local therapist Andy Slabaugh takes kids into the woods and along the water to get them to open up about what’s going on in their lives. Why children’s hyper-modern lives, increasingly detached from nature, need this approach more than ever.

This week we recorded our podcast in front of a live audience at Vasen Brewing in Scott’s Addition for “Views from the Brewhouse!” Hear what the Mayor and Parks Director had to say about topics like the Riverfront Plan, the James River Park, bike/pedestrian issues and much more!

Jamie Brunkow is the eyes and ears of America’s Founding River. We ask him how he covers 340 miles and what are biggest challenges the waterway faces.

Mike Burton is in charge of the trails in the James River Park and throughout RVA’s park system — trails that have taken a serious beating with all the rain this year. We delve deep with Burton into the art and science of building and maintaining our award-winning trails, a unique resource who’s user base continues to grow.

When local cycling enthusiast Shane Cusick couldn’t find a bike for his kid that wasn’t heavy and poorly made, he decided to design and build one himself. Three years later, Pello Bikes is up and running — but will import tariffs clip the wings of this fledgling success story before it takes off?

Hunter, angler, journalist and outdoors-based business owner Tee Clarkson is our ghost of outdoors pursuits past, present and yet to come.

Virginia’s Natural Area Preserve system protects our most rare and ecologically valuable plants, animals and geologic formations. But can you name one? Jason Bullock aims to change that.

Ever run or bike down Grove Avenue in the West End? Sherri Crowell has been putting ice cold water out there for you for years — and this simple act has profound lessons for us all.

Joe Costello’s masters degree in urban planning led him to the Gilded Age Richmond gem known as the Pump House. Now he and a newly-formed Friends group are on a mission to restore this architectural and historical wonder (and the park around it) to its former glory.
We’ve covered the outdoor sports-enthusiast angle, the competition angle, the naturalist angle, the outdoors-lifestyle angle….and a common thread that’s emerged from our guests is the spiritual rewards of recreating in the outdoors. So we decided it was time to delve into that topic directly.

Andrew Philpot and John Fury manage James River State Park two hours west of Richmond where, on Oct. 19-21, hundreds of practitioners of the fast-growing overland camping movement will gather for a weekend festival. Listen in to find out what all this growing segment of the camping world is all about.

The James River Park’s head of education programs talks about leaving a career in art history for outdoor ed and why it’s so important to break down the barriers to getting inner city kids outdoors.

Earl Swift has paddled the entire James River, circumnavigated the Chesapeake Bay and, for his latest book, spent 14 months living among our most isolated fellow Virginian’s on an island in the Chesapeake Bay — an island that in 50 years, scientists say won’t exist.

Clark Jones has spent the past few years turning Virginia’s largest state park into a mountain bike wonderland, with dozens of miles of new trails for beginners to experts. Find out how it all came together and what’s on the horizon for the state park closest to Richmond.

Rick DeJarnette grew up climbing in Colorado. He had climbed all over the world. Then one Richmond winter day he stepped off a ledge he had just ice climbed above Buttermilk Trail and his world changed forever.

Three badass female paddlers — Katie Lemmert, Melissa Vaughan and Carrie Hood — talk about the “James River Women” movement they helped create and why the James has become such a hotbed of whitewater talent.

A couple of years ago Marjolein de Wit, cross country cyclist, extreme bike commuter, and pulmonary critical care doctor at VCU decided she wanted to learn how to live off the grid and build a log cabin by hand. So she did…but why?

We sit down with Joey Parent, the head of VCU’s vast Outdoor Adventure Program, to discuss the risk inherent in outdoor exploration and why some colleges are saying they want no part of it.

For decades, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has been an under-the-radar advocate for America’s best-known estuary and its tributaries. Nissa Dean and Meredeth Dash join us to talk about their group’s novel approach to conservation and the unique niche it fills in the Bay cleanup landscape.

You wake up to his forecast. He’s a blast on social media. But did you know Andrew Freiden is a hiker, biker and all around outdoorsman? Find out about the time his forecast salvaged a James River tubing journey, why “Alexa” is the bane of his existence, and so much more!

When Casey Cockerham moved to Richmond, he sold his mountain bike because there was nowhere cool to ride it. 20 years later Outside Magazine named RVA the best river town in America, and the founder of Peak Experiences and Passages Adventure Camp is one of the main reasons why. Discussing the past, present and future of the outdoors in Richmond with one of the scene’s under-the-radar godfathers.
The James River Association’s long time CEO makes the climb to talk about wins and losses for the James River in the General Assembly and in Richmond’s budget.

Jay peluso is local an open-water swimming legend, a man who has gotten hundreds of Richmonders to swim thousands of total miles next to catfish, rockfish and sturgeon in the James River. He trains triathletes, he races himself, and he puts on events that only the toughest Central Virginia swimmers would think about attempting.

Aaron McFarland runs ‘Treelab,’ and if it succeeds, he’ll clean the James River while making Richmond cooler, happier, and less crime ridden.

At 24 years old, Bethany Patterson was so fast she graced the cover of Ultra Running Magazine. Now 39 and a mother of three, the Richmonder has run and won dozens of ultramarathons all over the country. But here’s what crazy: she might just be getting started.

BikeWalkRVA Director Max Hepp-Buchanan moved here 5-years ago from Seattle to make sure the answer isn’t: “Meh.” See how he thinks we’re doing; how far we have to go; and what it will take to create a paradigm shift in our approach to transportation in the River City.

Ted Elmore gave up partnership in a downtown law practice to champion Richmond’s moonshot — imagining, envisioning, planning, fundraising and (one day, hopefully) building BridgePark, a monumental green space over the James.

It’s been five years since Nathan Burrell took over for Ralph White at the helm of the James Park. Burrell talks about the future of the park, as well as the constant challenges of managing an attraction that drew nearly 2 million visitors last year.

Kitt West does things on a BMX bike that would make mere mortals wet their pants. He’s also one of RVA’s most dedicated trail builders and is out to make sure the resources are there to groom the next generation of gnar shredders. In this week’s podcast, we go inside Richmond’s burgeoning BMX riding and racing scene with one of its leading lights.

In this week’s Views from the Treehouse podcast, we talk to David Kunnen, Executive Director of the Blue Sky Fund, a local non-profit whose mission is “to provide transformational experiences for urban youth through outdoor education.” We ask Kunnen what his group does to reach kids, what works, what doesn’t, and how doing his job well means going out of business.

In this week’s Views from the Treehouse podcast, we chat with Mike Baum of Keep Virginia Beautiful. Shiver in the River, a winter festival that has become KVB’s signature event, is coming up on Feb. 24th. And we ask Baum the crucial questions: What, besides alcohol, causes normally sane people to plunge into the James in late February? Are Speedos allowed? Has he ever participated? And what percentage of participants say something about shrinkage? This is a fun one, folks!

This week we interview Richmond native Trevor Frost, an award-winning photographer and videographer whose work has been featured in National Geographic and the Washington Post, among many other publications. Frost details his career with National Geographic, discusses on his love for the outdoors and gives us a glimpse into the life of a globetrotting professional photographer.

When it comes to outdoors pursuits, Brad Cooke and Michael Stratton are Renaissance men — they can do it all. The teachers at Collegiate and Trinity Episcopal schools, respectively, also run the only middle and high school outdoor adventure programs in Central Virginia. In this treehouse sit-down, we ask them, among many other things, about skyrocketing youth participation in endurance and adventure sports; why Richmond is the perfect place to do what they do; and what parents can do turn their kids into little outdoor Renaissance men and women; all that and more over a couple of pints of local brew. Cheers!

Catherine “Cat” Anthony hasn’t been out of college for a decade, but just last fall she was installed as the the new Executive Director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. She’s charged with shaping the future of one of the Central Virginia’s most popular outdoor recreation resources — the 52-mile ribbon of asphalt that runs from Richmond to Jamestown and drew over 1 million visits last year. What’s her vision for the trail? What will it’s economic impact be? How safe is it? How will we fund its continued maintenance? All these questions — and our usual James Lipton-esque rapid fire session at the end — are a click away!

For our second podcast, we bring you part 2 of our interview with Ralph White, the manager of the James River Park for over 30 years. Like Part 1, it’s a doozy. White dishes on everything from Richmond’s riverfront plan to what he thinks of our current mayor.