Cycling’s Hincapies on Board for Williamsburg Winery’s First-Ever Tour de Virginia
When Hincapie Sportswear hosts cycling events, the Williamsburg Winery is a regular at the start line offering sponsorship.
Rich Hincapie is happy to return the favor for the inaugural Tour de Virginia, a scenic four-day experience from Sept. 23-26 for cyclists to explore the historical Virginia countryside while raising funds for Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels. All participants receive one custom Tour de Virginia cycling kit by Hincapie Sportwear for the trek that will cover nearly 300 miles.
If you’re a seasoned cyclist, you’re certainly familiar with the Hincapie brand that’s dedicated to premium quality apparel and high-end biking experiences. George and Rich Hincapie were introduced to bikes as kids, and both turned it into professional careers.
The brothers live cycling. George was a key domestique for Lance Armstrong and Tour de France winners Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans. Rich, who bikes an average of 6,000-7,000 miles annually, founded Hincapie Sportswear in 2002 and serves as CEO of the brand that extended to a luxury hotel, a gourmet restaurant, a gran fondo series, and a racing team.
“My brother is in Croatia right now and sending pictures that are absolutely beautiful,” says Rich, who rode there in the ’90s and is hopeful of returning for another. The Swiss Alps is also on a lengthy bucket list of rides.
Rich wants others to discover what he has known all his life — cycling is not only fun, it’s healthy, challenging, and the ideal way to spend a day or a couple of days.
“Our main goal is to grow the sport and to make it more inclusive for everyone,” Rich said. “Rides like the Tour de Virginia are a way of getting more people into the sport.”
The Tour de Virginia is all about the experience of meeting new friends and rediscovering old ones through a healthy activity at a reasonable pace. There is no time to beat or competitive racing angle. Rest stops at some of the Commonwealth’s most storied landmarks — Jamestown Settlement, Bear Creek Lake State Park, and Petersburg National Battlefield among them — are part of a fun itinerary.
Cycling clubs, like the one established at the winery in 2016, expose the sport to a population that, for the most part, ditched their bikes as soon as they got driver’s licenses.
What we loved as kids on bikes intimidates some as adults. It’s doesn’t have to be that way, one of the reasons Hincapie purchased its own hotel in Travelers Road, South Carolina. One of its amenities is renting out a fleet of bicycles to guests. Rich will often hear them acknowledge, “I haven’t been on a bike for 20 years.”
“We give them a helmet and a little GPS unit, and sometimes we pair them up with a ride guide,” he says. Rich suggests a short jaunt, no more than 10 miles and more than not, “Slowly, they start enjoying it,” he says. “It’s like being a kid again. Once you have that comfort level, people love it.”
An excursion like the Tour de Virginia presents an opportunity to immerse yourself in a sport that saw a boom in 2020, a year of COVID lockdowns in the United States. Nearly one in three Americans rode a bike last year; ridership and sales soared. The Tour de Virginia is an ideal way to put that new bike to good use.
“People who are beginners might take it on as a challenge; they might take all day to finish their 80 miles,” Hincapie says. “There’s no pressure to finish fast, and when you do cross the finish line, there’s something waiting.”
Rest stops for the Tour de Virginia will be fully stocked along the way; cyclists will spend the night in Richmond, Farmville, and Petersburg. Dining will be at local restaurants, and of course, wine from the Williamsburg Winery will complement the menu. The ride culminates with an after-party on Sept. 26. back where everything started — at the Williamsburg Winery in the middle of Wessex Hundred, the 400-acre farm that features open fields and 150 acres of woods.
Wine and cycling pair as well together as Governor’s White and fresh oysters. Because both have their roots in Europe, it’s a natural combination, Rich says. “The heart of cycling is really European; they know everything about the sport whether they ride or not. Wine is such a big part of that culture. It’s flowed into cycling pretty easily.”
The Tour de Virginia is limited to 50 riders. Register today!