JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Brand new mountain biking trails, like one currently in the works at Winged Deer Park, don’t just come out of nowhere. Instead, a group of devoted volunteers spend thousands of hours digging through slippery mud on a hillside before the entire community can pedal.
Many of the new bike trails popping up around the region were created by the Tri-Cities chapter of SORBA, or the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association.
“With mountain biking here in Johnson City, it’s definitely been a huge community effort, and we’re just happy to be a part of it. We’ve helped facilitate a lot of what’s been going on,” said SORBA Tri-Cities president Marc Upton.
Upton said the group currently has about 180 members. Aside from Johnson City, the organization is assisting with trail development in Kingsport, Bristol, Erwin, and more.
In recent years SORBA has cleared around three and half miles for biking at Winged Deer Park alone, but a new mile is coming.
“It’ll be a little technical, pretty fast, and a lot of fun,” said Upton.
SORBA holds work days where volunteers can help cut branches, dig trails, and clear away rocks.
At Sunday’s work day, Science Hill High School sophomores Jana Kirkpatrick and Finn Kidner let out a loud cheer as they finally managed to loosen a heavy rock away from the path. As members of the Science Hill mountain biking team, they said it was important to create trails for bikers of all levels.
“We try to build some beginner trails over here so that new riders can come out here and hopefully not wreck,” said Kirkpatrick. “My hands are freezing, but it’s worth it.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” Kidner added.
Upton said it would take SORBA at least 2,000 hours of volunteer work to finish the new trail at Winged Deer, but they hope to have it completed by May.