Now, Muncey says he and his family can travel 15 minutes from their home in Gray to the newly finished Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park to get the same experience.
“It’s something that my kids are asking to do,” he said.
Muncey and his family were among dozens of bike enthusiasts who showed up to the park’s ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon. Johnson City conducted a soft opening of the park on June 6.
The 40-acre park has seven trails, designed and constructed by the International Mountain Biking Association, that are color-coded based on their difficulty level. Green trails are easiest, blue trails are more challenging and black trails are the most difficult. The park also contains an asphalt pump track.
“This is built by world-class trail builders,” said Muncey, who has been an avid mountain biker for about seven years. “So from the green to the black, they’re appropriately marked. The black is a true black. It’s for experts. It’s a lot of fun. It’s something you would find anywhere across the country at well-known biking spots.”
In exchange for reimbursements for the cost of constructing the trails, developer Grant Summers, who owned the property, approached the city a couple of years ago about completing the park and then transferring ownership to the municipality, which would then operate it.
“We bought this piece of property ... and we really had no idea what we were going to do,” Summers said. “It was this big, huge piece of property right in the middle of town.”
Summers said it steadily became clear that the property should become public land.
Mayor Jenny Brock said Summers called her up a little over two years ago to ask if she would meet him at the Dairy Queen on East Market Street at the base of what is now the Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park.
“I met him there, I hopped in the truck and he drove me up here and described to me his dream,” she said. “I could see what it would mean to the citizens both young and old from Johnson City, and the many visitors who will come when they hear about this place.”
During a meeting in May 2019, the Johnson City Board of Commissioners approved about $540,000 in reimbursements to Summers’ company for the cost of constructing and designing the facility.
Chad Wolfe, the manager of Trek Bicycle in Johnson City, was involved early on in the project and believes the city has found a unique identity in fostering outdoor recreation opportunities like Tannery Knobs.
“What can’t you duplicate? What we’re standing on,” he said. “Nobody has this. If you don’t have a 250-foot bump of dirt that’s attached to a highway in the middle of town, you can’t build Tannery Knobs.”
Muncey, who estimated that his family has visited the park four or five times in the past week, said there are a couple characteristics that make Tannery Knobs special.
“One, it’s located right here in downtown within riding distance from so many restaurants, shopping, retail all that,” Muncey said. “Two, it’s progressive, so you can bring a kid up to ride some of the trails. Maybe [they’ve] never been on a trail, and as they get better, they can move on to other trails.”
Muncey hopes the park will help instill a similar love of mountain biking in his 9-year-old son Hudson and his 6-year-old daughter Allie.
“It’s exciting for me because it’s something we can do as a family and something that I think 20 years from, if I’m still able, I’ll still be riding with my kids,” he said.