By Dave Ongie, News Editor
For months, the only thing that has prevented mountain bikers from swooping down one of the many trails that snake their way around Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park is red tape.
Last Thursday, however, some of that red tape was cut when City Commissioners voted to reimburse R&G Partners $540,241, the costs owner Grant Summers and his team incurred while developing the property into a mountain biking park. That clears the way for the final hurdle to the park’s opening – the signing of the closing paperwork that will make the property transfer official.
As Summers prepared to welcome mountain biking enthusiasts from all over the Southeast to Tannery Knobs for a tour last Friday afternoon, he said the process of transforming the property into a mountain biking park was actually a short process in the grand scheme of things, and he’s looking forward to introducing the world to Tannery Knobs in the very near future.
“We’ve been waiting to get this open for a little while now, since we completed the pump track,” Summers said. “So yeah, we’re excited.”
IMBA Trail Solutions has long ago finished constructing the trail system on the property, which was purchased by Summers-Taylor Construction back in 2013. Summers went to the city with the idea of transforming roughly 45 acres of the 64-acre tract into a mountain bike park and then transferring that park to the city as a gift in exchange for the money it would take to develop the land.
The trail system was finished last year, as was a new 5-million-gallon water tank that sits adjacent to the park. A parking lot is now marked and ready for service on at the bike park along with the paved pump track. All the facility is missing now are riders to hit the winding trails.
Last Friday, Summers welcomed members of the Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SORBA) Summit to the property for a quick look around at a park that has taken on an almost mythical quality among mountain bike enthusiasts. The parking lot filled quickly around 2 p.m., and the vehicles that brought folks to the top of the Tannery Knobs sported license plates representing nearly every state in the Southeast.
The hype around Tannery Knobs was evident as the folks on hand for the tour gawked first at the panoramic view of the mountains before turning their attention to the trails that spilled off the sides of the steep hill. With opening day presumably right around the corner, Summers believes the property the excitement generated by Tannery Knobs will attract people to Johnson City for years to come.
“Having the SORBA Summit here in town is awesome,” Summers said. “There’s close to 400 people in town. That’s an economic driver right there, so I think it’s just a small taste of what can come.”