The sense that you're a part of a community becomes apparent the longer you stay at Piney Mountain Bike Lounge.
There's a common thread weaving everyone together, a bond that seems to form over bum knees and favorite rides and a love for a sport that owners Chip and Jackie Batson have built a business on.
"We thought it would be kind of neat to have a biking community gathering spot for mountain bikers specifically," Chip says as he and Jackie, his wife, settle into a L-shaped sectional in a quiet corner of the business they started a little over six months ago.
Both Greenville natives, Chip, 49, and Jackie, 42, say the Lounge really began “without us even realizing it.”
The two have been avid mountain bikers since they were in college — when bike trails at Paris Mountain State Park were nonexistent and the trail system consisted of urban rides through city parks or over old railroad beds.
The bikes were different, too.
“My first mountain bike had no suspension,” Jackie recalls. “There was no front fork or rear shock.”
The city's mountain bike culture has changed considerably since then.
With 15 miles of hiking and bike trails, Paris Mountain has grown into one of the busiest inland parks in the state park system, with some 245,000 visitors in 2015, according to South Carolina State Parks figures.
Greenville County recreation officials estimate that at least 1 in 4 of those visitors were mountain bikers.
The growing bike culture also brought more bicycle repair shops to the area, but the Batsons found that many of the shops catered more to road cyclists and didn’t carry certain parts specific to mountain bikes.
“We were taking different bikes to different shops,” Chip says.
They also had friends who worked at other bike shops who were unhappy and friends they rode with who wanted a place to hang out, Jackie says.
“We had kind of been joking around about it (opening a bicycle shop),” she says.
They didn’t expect anything to materialize. They both already had full time jobs — Chip owns an electrical contracting business, Batson Electrical Contractors, that his father started more than 40 years ago, and Jackie was a middle school math teacher at Greenville Middle School.
Piney Mountain Bike Lounge