CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The results of a survey posed to the community were released Wednesday morning, shedding light on what locals think about a bike pump track coming to the Hampton Watershed Trail System.
Pump tracks let bikers and skaters reach high speeds through a series of tight turns, hills and ramps, and one has been on its way to the trail system for months. For this track, the Tri-Cities chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) is managing the development effort as well as the survey released in June.
“We want a unique course design that is approachable for all skill levels to use with opportunity for progression,” said SORBA spokesperson Wesley Bradley. “That’s why we selected VeloSolutions to be our designer for the track. They are internationally known as a legendary company in making excellent pump track courses for all that flow well.”
Out of 89 responses, 78.7% of those surveyed said they wanted a unique layout for the area, rather than a mirrored track that would allow two riders to compete with each other.
SORBA floated the idea of several potential track features in the survey:
- Curved and Flat Wallride Sections – Turns where high-speed riders can use their momentum to roll along a wall.
- Table Top Jumps – Steep ramps leading up to a flat platform.
- Rhythm Table Lines – A line of hills in the road that lets riders build speed.
The participants’ favorite feature was the curved wallride, with nearly 60% of respondents rating their excitement over its inclusion at a 5 out of 5, meaning they strongly agreed with its inclusion.
Out of the proposed features, the flat wallride received the coldest reception with 2.2% of participants rating the design a 1 out of 5, meaning they strongly disagreed with it. Over 34% rated their excitement at a neutral 3, with only 12.4% placing it at a 5.
Bradley said SORBA is hoping to take the feedback and set priorities for crowd-favorite features like the Rhythm Table Top Jump Line, Curved Wallride and the Bridge/Tunnel.
After the feature questions, the survey asked participants to share their thoughts on the project overall and suggest other features. Among requests for water features and landscaping in the area, one standout respondent with experience in the area added his thoughts.
“Ensure it is kid friendly… or at least a portion is,” said Tannery Knobs pump track designer Abraham McIntyre. “My hope/plan for TK was to be much more beginner friendly with more advanced options, but that got flipped and I still regret it.”
McIntyre headed the Tannery Knobs Bike Bark Task Force, which created a pump track in cooperation with Johnson City. In his feedback, McIntyre said a key part of the project will be making it appeal to the widest audience possible.
“Being that these tracks are a community asset, making it approachable, challenging, and fun to 95% of the population is more important than it being epic for 5% of the population,” McIntyre said. “I fully believe striders and pros can, and do, have fun on the same track.”
When it came to the question of skateboards and bikes on the same track, respondents were mixed on the matter.
“Being open to ALL wheels is so important for the community, there is no reason for this to be a bike-only park,” said one respondent. “Thank you for making that a point! Keep that in writing and in conversations and invite those different sports into the planning efforts and get their buy-in early.”
Other respondents weren’t so sure.
“If you make it for skateboards, you have only made a skate park with a ton of problems. They
tried to make Tannery open to boards, and it just became a program and they had to ban them,” one said. “Why wouldn’t you learn from this? Build a separate skate park!”
Bradley said mixed-use parks are doable, and with the help of their designer, there should be little issue.
“Carter County or Elizabethton does not have a skate park, so this project is a gateway to give the all-wheels crowd a place to play also,” Bradley said. “I hope our city and county leaders will side to make sure we make this track as inclusive as possible for the larger all-wheels users.”
Bradley said he sees the Bridge and Tunnel as the park’s greatest asset, especially considering the site’s history as a manganese mine.