Loni and Joel Eddy were used to people stopping by their house off state Route 5 in Henrico County, especially on weekends, to snap selfies in front of a huge bicycle they had erected in their yard.
“Love the bike; cool bike,” people would say.
In July, the couple received an unusual note addressed to “The Big Bike Owner” from Daniel T. Schmitt, president and chief operating officer of HHHunt Corp., a major Richmond region residential developer based in Henrico.
He wanted to know if they would be interested in selling the 12-foot-tall bike, so it could be refurbished as a commemorative art piece for the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail between Richmond and Jamestown.
“I’ve seen it for a year or two; I had this vision for the bike — it needed a special place,” said Schmitt, who pedals 150 miles a week in and around Richmond.
The steel bike will be unveiled at a dedication ceremony Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Four Mile Creek Park trailhead parking lot in Henrico on the north side of Route 5, east of the Interstate 295 interchange. Donated by HHHunt, the bike will be dedicated to Henrico Recreation and Parks and to the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation.
The sculpture’s new home is about 6 miles east of its original location.
“This will quickly become an iconic spot along the trail and a beautiful welcome to users of the park,” said Beth Weisbrod, former executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation.
The Eddys were getting ready to sell their house when they received the request from Schmitt. “We weren’t sure what we were going to do with the bike when we got Dan’s note,” Loni recalled.
“We built it to be enjoyed by all, so this is an ideal solution,” she said. “It’s all meant to be. We’re happy that someone else is passionate about it and it will continue to be there (along the bike path) for everyone to see.”
“The timing was unbelievable,” said Schmitt, who declined to say what he paid for the bike and restoration.
“Dan’s story is a stroke of good luck,” said Albert Azzarone with Henrico’s parks department. “The bike could just as easily have disappeared one day with the sale of the property where it was, and no one would know where it went or why and then would be forgotten.”
Loni, an artist, came up with the idea for the sculpture when the UCI Road World Championships bicycle race came to Richmond in 2015 and cyclists used the Capital Trail for timed trials.
Joel, who works in the industrial contracting business, built the bike over three weekends, putting in about 40 hours. He used natural gas line spools 8 feet in diameter for the wheels. The rest is made from carbon steel and stainless steel pipe.
“My husband went full tilt with it,” Loni said. “He built it completely to scale. It comes apart like a real bike, with quick release wheels.”
The bicycle came down Sept. 12, two years to the day after it went up.
The sculpture was transported to Custom Ornamental Iron in Hanover County, where it was sandblasted, recoated and refinished. Supports were added to the bottom so it could be attached to a concrete base at its permanent location in Four Mile Creek Park.
“It’s nothing fancy, just big,” said Jim Kramer, a sales manager at the fabrication metal shop. “It will make a statement.”