Johnson City receives $10,000 grant for Winged Deer Park mountain bike trails

Zach Vance • Aug 8, 2018 at 10:55 PM

Trails – particularly mountain biking trails – has been a buzzword in Johnson City as of late, with the Tannery Knobs Bike Park almost complete and a proposal to establish trails atop Buffalo Mountain.

Now the buzz is sounding at Winged Deer Park, where a grant will help extend the park’s mountain bike trails.

Johnson City leaders joined local biking enthusiasts Wednesday to announce that PeopleForBikes, a national nonprofit cycling group, awarded a $10,000 grant to construct another mile of mountain bike trails at Winged Deer Park.

"On behalf of SORBA Tri-Cities, we are very excited and thankful to announce that we received this grant from PeopleForBikes," Marc Upton, vice president of the Tri-Cities Chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, said.

"With 2,000 volunteer hours and $2,000 in donations and grant funding, SORBA has facilitated three miles of beginner and experienced trails in a city park setting. With this $10,000, we will be able to complete the trails much sooner than anticipated and bring in a Little Bellas chapter. The chapter will serve to promote cycling for area youth."

PeopleForBikes includes both an industry coalition of bicycling suppliers and retailers as well as a charitable foundation. Since 1999, it has awarded more than 400 grants to bicycling projects and programs.

SORBA Tri-Cities President Jerry Greer said his organization has applied for the grant in previous years before being selected as a recipient this year.

“It’s awesome. We need more. We need about $60,000 to finish what we want to finish over here, but this $10,000 keeps us moving,” Greer said.

In its spring 2018 grant award announcement, PeopleForBikes said: “The growing community of mountain bikers in Northeast Tennessee will score big with the addition of 3.25 miles of beginner and advanced trails that this $10,000 grant will help the SORBA Tri-Cities mountain bike club build. When complete, the 5- to 6-mile trail system will serve area youth mountain biking programs including a brand new Little Bella club chapter and two local high school mountain biking teams.”

James Ellis, director of Johnson City's Parks and Recreation program, said the bike trails help differentiate Winged Deer from other facilities.

"This park has a beautiful lakefront, world class athletic facilities, a historic cabin, hiking trails that feature incredible flora and wildlife, a disc golf course, and mountain bike paths the whole family can enjoy," he said. "There's truly nothing like it."

Upton said construction to extend the trail will begin in December. Anyone interestd in joining SORBA Tri-Cities or volunteering to build trails can find more information at www.sorba-tricities.org.

A Timeline: Winged Deer Park Bike Trails

2014 Fall: Johnson City Parks and Recreation Board recommends the city build mountain bike trails at Winged Deer Park;

2015 Summer: City approves updates to the Winged Deer Park master plan to include mountain biking trails;

2015 Fall: SORBA receives $500 cash donation from The Bike Shop to match a $500 grant from IMBA and Fox Head Apparel;

2016 February: Jim Horton (builder and designer of Warrior Creek in North Carolina) flags the first 1.9 miles for $1,000;

2016 March: Volunteers start building;

2017 Spring: Trails coordinator Greg Carr designs last section of trail to complete loop;

2018 May: 'Fly By Night' 2.2 miles of single track completed; and

2018 August: SORBA receives $10,000 from PeopleForBikes for future trail development.

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