Construction begins on new Tannery Knobs pump track

Zach Vance • Oct 18, 2018 at 11:02 PM

An internationally known trail building company began work on a “pump track” atop Tannery Knobs Bike Park this week.

VeloSolutions USA CEO Alon Karpman and his team officially broke ground on the project Wednesday. The asphalt pump track will be the latest amenity added to the 40-acre-plus park.

The pump track will snake around a 7,000-square-foot flat area at the pinnacle of the mountain. Open to mountain bikes, BMX bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and scooters, the pump track will consist of berms, banks and bumps.

“For a long time, I think people thought Tannery Knobs was just going to be mountain bikes and just dirt, but having a paved pump track will allow for rollerbladers, skateboarders, scooters, kids of all ages, adults of all ages and skill levels. You ride to your ability,” Abraham McIntyre, chairman of the Tannery Knobs Bike Park, said.

“If you're a beginner, you can roll through it. There's no problem in that. If you're a pro, you can come out and do doubles and triples. So you ride to your experience level. It's a very low-risk, high-reward training ground basically.”

According to VeloSolutions’ website, a pump track combines rolling jumps with turns and “teaches the basic skills of carrying momentum, balance and speed by using your arms and legs to pump your bike/board/scooter around the track.”

Karpman estimated the pump track will be completed in a few weeks, and the full Tannery Knobs Bike Park could open by November or December.

Developer Grant Summers, who has spearheaded the initiative, said he didn’t even know what a pump track was until he got involved in developing the mountain bike park.

“It's just one of the fun amenities and playground aspects that's different from just a bunch of trails in the woods. We're super excited,” Summers said. “Just like with the trails, we were lucky enough to get literally the best people in the world (VeloSolutions) to build this.”

Headquartered in Switzerland, VeloSolutions specializes in building pump tracks, from concept to construction. The company has previously built pump tracks in Austria, Chile, the Netherlands and New York City.

However, Karpman said no other pump track will offer a sprawling view quite like the one at Tannery Knobs, overlooking downtown Johnson City.

Earlier this year, the Tannery Knobs Bike Park task force collaborated with Up & At ’Em, Inc., the organizers of the annual Turkey Trot, to apply for and was awarded an $85,000 Tennessee Department of Health Built Environment grant.

Roughly $74,000 of that grant, in addition to another $10,000 donated by Up & At ’Em, Inc., will be used to pay for the $160,000 cost of the pump track, with the balance being paid for through a fundraiser. The remaining $11,000 of the grant will be used for recreational programming that targets children. 

“We just believe this is going to be a home run with our families (and) our young people. Our whole goal right now is to get kids on a bike, and this is a big way to achieve that,” Vice Mayor Jenny Brock, a member of Up & At ‘Em, Inc., said.

“(Tannery Knobs) is one of a kind. You don’t have a feature like this two blocks off the interstate and overlooking your downtown. So when we do get it open, and hopefully that’s next month, the people will come. This is ‘build it and they will come’ for sure.”

Johnson City Press Videos