The story behind Williamson County’s first mountain bike park
As a small crowd gathered on an attractive, brisk Saturday morning within the newly paved parking zone at 5664 Wilkins Department Street, voices hollering “woo hoo” and “yeeeaaaah!” may very well be heard echoing by way of the adjoining woods.
The voices got here from riders hitting the freshly constructed mountain bike trails at Williamson County’s first devoted mountain bike park, Wilkins Department Mountain Bike Park. The occasion was a part of a comfortable opening on Saturday for volunteers who helped construct the park and neighborhood leaders earlier than the park opened to the general public on Sunday.
County Mayor Rogers Anderson and County Parks and Recreation Director Gordon Hampton joined Rebecca Wynd, founding father of Outside Encounter, to welcome and thank a small gathering of volunteers, sponsors and the Parks and Recreation crew who all someway had a hand within the improvement and evolution of the county’s latest park.
Preliminary conferences about this park started again in 2016, and due to the partnership between the county and Outside Encounter, which is a nonprofit devoted to preserving inexperienced house and making it accessible to folks of all ages, 4 years of arduous work become a full-fledged bike park this previous weekend.
Throughout the preliminary conferences, the county agreed to fund the infrastructure of the park, however Outside Encounter must design and construct the paths. Wynd and her husband Ben determined if the paths have been professionally designed, they may very well be volunteer-built. So that they obtained busy recruiting volunteers and securing funding to rent knowledgeable path designer.
“Over about 70-plus Sunday volunteer construct days over the previous year-and-a-half, we had greater than 200 volunteers out to assist construct this park,” Wynd stated. “We averaged a little bit over 5,000 volunteer hours. Not solely constructing trails however choosing up and hauling off a ton of trash. One other 300 hours of labor was performed by skilled path builder Barry Smith.”
The construct was partially funded by an Worldwide Mountain Biking Affiliation (IMBA) Path Accelerator Grant together with one other grant from outside retailer REI.
The park sits on 156 acres of land the county has owned for 15 years. Section one, which is now open, consists of 30 acres of land housing 4 miles of biking trails, a parking zone, moveable restrooms, picnic areas and a motorcycle wash station. Section two will embody one other 25 adjoining acres and have 4 downhill biking traces. Though a completion date hasn’t been decided, Wynd is tough at work making use of for grants to fund the skilled construct for the subsequent part.
Anderson stated as a result of steep terrain and dense woods on this property, the county initially wasn’t certain what the very best use for this land can be. It sat untouched for 15 years till Williamson County resident and mountain biker Cooper Magli went to Anderson with the concept to construct a mountain bike park on the land.
“Cooper got here to us early on and stated is there anyplace within the county the place we are able to have some mountain bike trails?” Anderson stated. “He and a few different guys introduced the idea to us, and we checked out a few totally different areas however settled on this one.”
Hampton stated he cherished the concept of a mountain bike park, however as a result of he didn’t have any expertise constructing one, he wanted to accomplice with somebody who was able to doing it correctly.
“We noticed what Rebecca had performed with the Alexander Path out in Thompson’s Station, so we knew that she and Ben can be those we’d wish to do that,” Hampton added.
Wynd and her crew compiled knowledge on the recognition of the game of mountain biking and financial affect stories to current to the county to assist show to the decision-makers that this was a viable use of county funds.
“We needed to present that this was an actual up-and-coming exercise for this space,” she stated. “Mountain biking is family-friendly and it’s doable for any age at any stage. It’s good for everyone who desires to be exterior.”
In accordance with a June 2020 article in Forbes Journal, mountain bike path counts throughout the USA are exhibiting will increase of one hundred pc to greater than 500 p.c in contrast with the identical time in 2019.
“Households are mountain biking like by no means earlier than and other people of all ages, from all walks of life, are realizing the advantages of getting nice mountain biking trails close by,” stated David Wiens, govt director of IMBA, in that article.
And though that is Williamson County’s first devoted mountain bike park, Wilkins Department joins the brand new mountain bike path system on 4 acres behind Columbia State in Franklin in addition to neighboring Chickasaw Hint State Park in Columbia and Lock 4 in Gallatin as fashionable space mountain biking locations.
Williamson County additionally has a strong Nationwide Interscholastic Biking Affiliation (NICA) mountain bike crew presence. By this system, a whole lot of center and highschool college students compete in mountain bike competitions throughout the state.