Two Rivers Skatepark; pictured: MaksimBMX

There are eight rules at Nashville’s secret bike park. With shovels and wheelbarrows, volunteers have molded mud into jumps that can launch riders 10 feet in the air, linking together to form an intricate course. “Bikes only!” says rule two. Rules six, seven and eight forbid racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. Another sign with a few additional rules — no camping, no dumb stuff, be cool — is signed only by “locals.” The track is nestled just feet from backyards; dense brush on all sides hides it from view.

Wheel-friendly pockets of Nashville can make summer feel like a single adventure. City engineers and planners have dropped critical new cycling infrastructure in the past nine months, making non-car travel across the city safer and more appealing. Hundreds more miles of projects wait in the pipeline, as does a direct e-bike subsidy from Metro to residents that got bumped to next term. Increasing transportation options has become a key issue in this year’s mayoral race — candidates have emphasized repeatedly how unsafe the city has become for pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road with cars, pointing to NDOT’s WalknBike Nashville plan and the regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee.

A growing base of cyclists and advocates — dubbed “Big Bike Energy”  by the Scene in November — has helped Nashvillians exercise, commute and explore, proving demand for bike paths and greenways. Many of these paths thread together major urban green space and commercial hubs, connecting residential centers with parks, farmers markets, restaurants and concert venues. Halcyon, an offbeat longtime 12South bike shop, hosted a closed-circuit “criterium” race around Sevier Park at the neighborhood’s annual music festival earlier this month. The Tennessee Bicycle Association runs crits at The Fairgrounds Nashville every Wednesday.

Extremely cool skate shops — Compound in Donelson, Asphalt Beach on Woodland Street — have sustained a market for skateboards and in-line skates, particularly since such outdoor hobbies boomed during the height of COVID. Maple Built, the successor of Salemtown Board Co., produces wooden-board decks on Buchanan Street via a mission-driven apprenticeship program. Cecil’s Skate Shop, the latest venture from things-that-move entrepreneur Austin Bauman of Green Fleet Bikes and Shelby Ave. Bike Co., brought a board store (and ice cream, and a toy shop) to Porter Road last year. All feature interactive terrain, like rails and quarter-pipe jumps, establishing places to gather and sowing seeds for a boarding community that’s based on reclaiming public space.

Not-so-secret hotspots around Nashville have gotten a recent boost of money and support. East Siders swear by Cornelia Fort Airpark, a decommissioned airport tucked into a corner of the Shelby Park system. Its tarmac is now a campus for biking, blading, picnics, kite-flying and model rocket launches. The city of Dickson made its new skate park an area destination. Nestled between tennis courts and a baseball diamond, the pump track at Watkins Park — a joint venture between public, private and nonprofit groups — is up and running. Two Rivers, just down the street from Compound, has had a complete skatepark for years and helped build a youth boarding community in Hermitage and Donelson.

“There are cliques,” says Scene photographer Eric England. “There’s bicycle guys, scooter kids and skateboard kids. They don’t always intermingle.” He goes to Two Rivers with his 12-year-old son, who’s a scooter kid.

“He’s got friends there that he sees after school — sometimes we’re out there almost every day. It’s better than looking at your fucking phone.” 

Summer Guide is presented by Black Sheep Tequila

From family activities to concert series and beyond, here’s our roundup of great summertime stuff to do and where to do it

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