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Still, urbanites check the river's cubic-feet-per-second levels on their smartphones, and everyone seems to know someone who commutes by kayak. Musicians like Andrew Bird play every night of the week.And while Richmond reportedly boasts the third-highest number of tattoos in the country, it also claims one of the healthiest per capita ratios of marathoners.Lugbill made the Wheaties box in 1986; he's now executive director of Sports Backers, which organizes Dominion Riverrock, a sports and music festival that attracts 65,000 people to the James."What makes Richmond better than other urban areas is that our outdoor access is wilder," he says. When I ask Brandy Adams, race director for the Thule Urban Assault, what her favorite thing is about Richmond mountain biking, she replies, "Snakes, eagles, poison ivy." That afternoon I taste dirt."When you gotta live somewhere seven days a week during high season, you better make sure you like it," says Matt Perry, 42, a New Jersey Yankee who ditched his job at Capital One to partner at Riverside Outfitters, which provides gear and guides for kayaking, rafting, SUPing, and mountain biking."People say living in Richmond is good because it's two hours from everything"—the mountains, the ocean, Washington, D. "That's cool, but it's also one minute from itself."So what happened?"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act," says Bill Street, executive director of the James River Association."The James is arguably the most improved river in the country."ON THE RIVER THESE days, the water is clear enough to sight-fish for carp, and a key indicator species, the American shad, is back. Depending on the season, a paddler can find Class I–V whitewater within the seven-mile fall line."When I paddled the James when I was 12, it was the filthiest river I'd ever been in," Olympian and world-champion canoeist Jon Lugbill, 51, tells me on an hour-long trail run across the river to Belle Isle, a former Civil War prison.
To help select America's most progressive, adventurous, and livable river towns, we turned to a trusted source: You."Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself." As White considers climbing back up to his truck to fetch his paint, a shirtless tattooed kid scrambles toward us. "Thanks for making this happen."THIS SUMMER, WHEN opened the campaign season on Facebook for the greatest river town in America, I figured I'd end up writing about Missoula, Montana, or Hood River, Oregon.I wonder if this is the artist himself, taking offense at what White's about to do to his painting. I've got the Rocky Mountain superiority complex when it comes to rivers; I knew Richmond was a candidate, but I didn't seriously consider the possibility of eastern time zones. When I arrived to vet the town, the vote still undecided, the good citizens made it their business to persuade me that Richmond was worthy.Read our guides to stay safe and avoid the con artists attempting to sell dodgy goods.If you’ve been the victim of credit or debit card fraud, acting quickly is essential.