This story was originally published to WYDaily on Feb. 9, 2022. -Ed.
WILLIAMSBURG — One of the goals at Billsburg Brewery is to bring the community together.
Visitors might notice that the brewery features a taproom, a covered/uncovered deck, a beer garden, a performance stage, and about 13 beers on tap. However, what visitors may not know is that the brewery also hosts a year-round running and cycling club every Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting.
“So it kind of came out of COVID[-19]. We were looking at what we could do to get people kind of back together again in a way that everybody could meet their own comfort level,” said General Manager of Billsburg Brewery Eric Williams. “With the Cycling and Running club, everybody could be outdoors in their own comfort level, and then still have that sense of community and ride together on their bikes or run together. That’s kind of where it started from.”
Billsburg Brewery is a prime starting point for local runners and cyclists. The business is located right next to the James City County Marina across from the Jamestown Settlement. It’s also located by the Colonial Parkway, near the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. For runners and cyclists, the brewery is perfectly situated right at the beginning (or end, dependent upon the direction you take) of the Virginia Capital Trail.
Local cyclists and runners show up at Billsburg Brewery to register between 5-6 p.m. on the dates in which the clubs meet. Then participants take off on the routes that they planned for themselves. Some choose to run/cycle in a group, while other participants choose go solo. It’s all up to the individual and what they are feeling that day.
“We use the term running kind of loosely. They walk and they jog too. We are really flexible,” said Williams. “It’s designed to be a 5k, but we tell everybody there’s no hard and fast rule. If you can’t do a 5k, walk to the end of the parking lot and back. It’s about coming out, doing something, getting to be around people, and having that kind of fun again.”
The club started in April 2021 and has since really taken off; particularly with those wanting to get back out in the community. The Billsburg Cycling Club has about 190 members and the running club boasts around 252 members. Both clubs are open to all skill levels.
“We have runners who bring their dogs, and runners who are pushing their kids in the stroller. We’ve also got moms and dads with kids all going together, and they just kind of do a little bit of a run and a little bit of walk with the kids,” said Williams. “It’s designed for everyone. We really love that social aspect of it here.”
After members get back from running or cycling they’re always invited to stop in the Brewery where they receive discounts on the taproom.
“A lot of them like to hang out by the fire pits. The cyclists too. They’ll come in when they’re done and you get a group who’s ridden together and then they all sit back and relax. It’s kind of fun to hear them tell their stories on what they did in their week or what they did on their rides,” said Williams. “If you’re not a drinker, we have Gatorade and waters. It’s not so much about the sales aspect of it. It’s about being a place in the community where people can feel good about getting together, [and] getting some exercise, whether they’re sprinting, biking hard, or out getting to walk in some fresh air once a week. That’s really what kind of spurred it on for us and for me personally. Just getting everybody out again and just socializing.”
For runners who are looking to run with others, the running club does host a group 5k run every Tuesday. The table for signing up opens around 5 p.m. but the big group run starts at about 6 p.m. Also, one popular route for cyclists is group rides around Jamestown Island and back.
Williams says that running and cycling club members who show up 10 times receive a free T-shirt depending on whether they’re running or cycling.
Even in the winter weather, the club has seen groups of runners show up. In fact, the only reason that the clubs will cancel a run/cycling meetup is if there is thunder and lightning.
“Right now, even in the winter, we’re probably averaging about 25-30 people,” said Williams. “It’s been that way all winter long. There was a real cold snap, but that night we had about a dozen people show up when it was right at freezing.”
Spring, summer, and fall are the seasons in which the club sees the most members show up. Williams says that during those seasons, they averaged about 60 people every week showing up for the running club.
The goal is to provide a sense of community for those wanting to get outside. As the warmer season approaches the club anticipates that it will continue to grow.
“It’s been really nice to see how the community has grown with it and really embraced what we’re doing out here,” Williams said.
For more information on both the Billsburg Running Club and Cycling Club, locals can check out Billsburg Brewery’s Facebook page.