Mayor Indya Kincannon finally got to deliver some upbeat news Thursday morning as she led a celebration at the Baker Creek Bike Park at Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.
Kincannon, city staff and council members, and biking-community members cut the ribbon on the first new amenity completed in the $10 million Urban Wilderness Gateway Park.
As workers on the nearby James White Parkway focused on reformatting the southeastern entry to accommodate the Gateway, several mountain bikers flew around one of the two pump tracks at Baker Creek (behind the old Sevier Heights Baptist Church), catching air and eliciting “wows” from the crowd. (A dog that joined in the fun earned several “awws.”)
City Council member Tommy Smith, whose District 1 includes South Knoxville and Fort Sanders, welcomed attendees and talked about playing nearby as a child. He envisioned the bike park as a draw for Knoxvillians and visitors.
Speakers, who also included city Urban Wilderness coordinator Rebekah Jane Montgomery and Matthew Kellogg, executive director of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, tried to keep remarks brief – mostly thanking partners and officials – as the temperature and humidity rose.
Kincannon has been a constant cheerleader for Knoxvillians throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but her frequent social-media appearances have brought out her tough-love side. On Thursday, she was beaming as she greeted an audience of council members, cyclists – including several AMBC members, project partners, children, neighborhood residents and business owners, city employees and reporters. Among the guests were also Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, and former mayor Victor Ashe.
She thanked former mayors for their contributions to the park, and she cited the park for its exercise and fresh-air benefits, especially helpful during the pandemic. Mask-wearing at the event was nearly 100 percent, but social distancing would have to be given a D at best.
Kincannon, a mountain biker herself, said she’d started riding the Urban Wilderness trails before they were officially trails, often with Tina Rosling, an AMBC member and bike-shop owner (who’s now spending a year in Europe). She said she took Rosling’s advice to heart, and not just for biking:
- Sometimes it’s best to go fast through the hard parts
- Always keep your eyes on where you want to be, not where you are
- Always ride with friends.
Betsy Pickle is a freelance writer and editor who particularly enjoys spotlighting South Knoxville.