Cycling to beauty | Sports

As the weather forecast predicted, the situation was freezing and the roads impassable. The National Park Service completely banned attempts at what it claimed. However, Dennis Knowlton entered the flat portion of Route 2 in North Dakota from the postcard summit of East Glacier in Glacier National Park, where a very vicious wind hit and rocked his sinuses. I rang.

Sitting in a specialized Roubaix-Peter Sagan version of the bike seat, Knowlton might want to relax in a comfy chair in Clifford. However, he has 80 miles to go up parts of the Rocky Mountains and 80 miles to get to the front of the camp. Knowlton can eat 100 miles in the afternoon without sweating when he’s doing well on that bike. But the wind stifles his speed to 6 mph and he has to do some math.

“We are confused,” thinks a 70-year-old man.

Then, in the distance, he sees it. hill. A waterfall that sculpts its side. The roar of clear water crosses the afternoon. He puts his forearms on the trivers and pedals and feels like crazy towards the natural monument as the wind slows down and replenishes his energy. They went 80 miles to his bed and blew a breeze with elm and ash.

People like Knowlton, who spend a lot of time cycling on national roads, have to contend with the wind, heat and rain. Many may wonder why they overcame the risks and tensions.

But for Knowlton, it’s such a moment.

He saw paradise, or at least as close as possible to riding a bike.

“The adversity of moving from one place to another is very gratifying,” he says. “When you get there and you get there at the end of the day, you are there. It’s very spiritual for me. You can really connect. “

When he talks about racing, he finds it hard to control his excitement about doing something crazy for many this week. It is a whirlwind of numbers, facts and history. But as these spiritual moments approach, his shrill voice calms down, as if an old man was telling his grandson an epic at bedtime. But who could sleep?

On Tuesday, Knowlton will begin another quest for history and experience. He signs up for the tough TransAm Tri, an ultra-long-distance triathlon that opens in the warm waters of Kane Lake in Orlando, Florida, and ends his hike over the peaks and cliffs of Mugu State Park in California at the end of next month. Overlooking the magnificence of the Pacific Ocean.

He swims 50 km and travels 310 km, rides a 3,150 km bike through Louisiana and Texas to the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, and is sandwiched between the relentless ovens of Death Valley. I go.

It’s a physical challenge for a well-trained triathlete under half his age, but for Knowlton, burning muscle pain is a valid trade-off with benefits for the soul.

“We all go on vacation, and most of the time we fly or drive on the freeway,” Knowlton said, his voice returning to calm. “But it gives me a thrill to think about it, especially when I cycle indoors and get to see our beautiful, vast, rich and poor country. The people I have met and the past What I have seen in four years is incredible. It is simply amazing. “

Find a home

Knowlton started cycling about 13 years ago in his late 50s for six reasons. My sons Jake and Zeb, my daughters Megan Boylan, Sarah, Samantha Wescot and Serena.

He, Jake and Zeb rode the quad together until their passion for young Knowlton changed.

His sons took up mountain biking as a new challenge. That’s what Knowlton did, and I never imagined where he could go on two wheels. Or how much will they change his life?

The more he did it, the more he liked it. He toured the region’s countryside, followed the trails around the region, stopped for food, and visited children and other families along the way. Sometimes I’m late and sleep on my new friend’s balcony. Eight years ago masonry contractors acquired Cedar Bicycle on the south side of Scranton, a local cycling business.

Instead of going to an Ohio family wedding with his wife Sherry, he hopped on a bike and asked her to pick him up at the state border. He dreamed of riding Clifford along the Florida coast. But he ultimately did it to train for the bigger goals of 2018. Completed a 4,200 mile TransAm bike race that started in Astoria, Oregon and ended in Yorktown, Virginia.

When the pandemic closed the doors to most of these events in 2020, he and a few friends were connected to from Pittsburgh via Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. When they finally got to Seattle, they celebrated by soaking in the cold waters of Puget Sound.

The winner did not have any trophies. But there was a price.

“It’s an adventure,” Knowlton surprised.

Get there

He admits that what he’s starting this week is a particularly crazy adventure, considering the miles.

He has always been the oldest participant in such events, and it is not uncommon for someone to meet him on the course and ask him, “Grandpa, why not pedal again?”

He knows a few things. The first is that young people can cycle faster and many are physically stronger. The other is that half never seem to finish the race. They seem to be focusing on how they feel at the time, but that’s what they did, around the curve just before, in the next town, and still Knowlton. ..

“It’s so beautiful and I meet so many people that I sometimes had a real problem getting into a runner,” he said. “So I would stop them, talk and shoot a video, and that would only spend a lot of time on me.”

You see, here Dennis Knowlton competed with sport and quite frankly understood life. He’s not talking about the thrill of crossing the finish line. He talks about the joy of getting there.

When he made a 3,500 mile excursion from Portland, Oregon to Washington, DC in 2019, he passed through a field of very fresh smelling sage. he. He was engrossed in watching thousands of cows graze on a Kansas farm. When the locomotive passes, he stops looking. Maybe when he moves his arm up and down, the conductor honks his horn.

He is proud to go faster than many cyclists in the race. But even more glamorous, he announced that he was the penultimate ending. He took too many photos, met too many people, and had too many conversations along the way.

He doesn’t know what’s in store for him next month. After all, that’s part of why he runs TransAmTri. But when he’s done, he’s back home and ready for the next nearby adventure.

For all he has seen across the country, he still finds his own backyard just as mysterious all over America.

“Nothing in northeastern Pennsylvania is as beautiful as I see it,” Knowlton says. “I am circling the Delaware River. I’m going to Jim Thorpe. Take a small path here. I noticed a lot of local gems.

“I love doing this stuff coast to coast, but what are you guessing: there is a lot to do here.”

Donnie Collins I am a sports columnist for the Times-Tribune. [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ DonnieCollinsTT.

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