69-year-old grandmother not ready to retire from BMX scene
Kittie Weston-Knauer isn’t going to sit back and knit in her retirement, instead, she is crushing the BMX racing scene.
She spent 33 years as a high school principal in Iowa and she now spends her time traveling around the country to compete in BMX bike races.
“I’m just enjoying life,” she stated. “I worked hard so that I could retire and play. And that’s what I’m doing; I’m playing.”
Her career in BMX bikes began in the late 80’s when she was dared by her son Max to give it a shot.
“Everyone knew little Max liked to ride — he had already done three RAGBRAI rides by the time he was nine — so someone suggested that he try BMX,” she said.
“We’d pack up the car every Thursday evening so after school on Friday, the whole family could jump in and head to the races,” she said. “Max would race all weekend while we camped out. If there weren’t any races happening in Des Moines, we’d drive to where they were.”
It was when Max was 11 that he put forth the dare to his mother. She was giving him some advice on the drive home when he said, “If you think this is so easy, why don’t you try it?”
Those words stuck with Weston-Knauer and at 40-years-old and on Mother’s Day she accepted his dare.
“I put on little Max’s helmet and gloves and used his bike,” she said. “And the rest is history. I said my husband and Max were nuts if they thought they could race and I would just sit on the sidelines.”
She remembers growing up in North Carolina and spending her days riding bikes with her friends.
“I got my first bike when I was 10, and back then parents weren’t carting you around everywhere. You got on your bike and rode wherever you needed to get to.”
She got more interested in biking in college and began to participate in such events as the cross-Iowa ride RAGBRAI. As it stands now, she has participated in the RAGBRAI 32 times.
“Cycling, that’s the best thing in the world for one’s body,” she says.
BMX, however, was a new passion for her as well as an excuse to buy more bikes.
When she first began racing she raced men as there was no women’s cruiser class 30 years ago.
“And when I started racing, I often beat my husband and some of the other men,” she stated. “They wanted me to get my own class!”
Weston-Knauer currently races in the 56 and older category and the women’s cruiser division. She says there isn’t a lot of competition in her age group but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still have high expectations for herself.