Riding with a team means shared pain and triumph, laughs and camaraderie. It’s support that’s always there; a tailwind that greets you every ride. And no one exemplifies always being there for their teammates better than Billie Knowles. The “Grandmaster of SAG”, Billie knows how to motivate and support her team both on and off the bike, and does so endlessly. Genuine and true, it’s not just the help that she provides us, but the heart that comes with it.
Rolling: How long have you been riding? Not “hanging onto the front of a shopping cart” riding. I mean “We’ve gone how far???” riding.
Billie Knowles: I rode my first 5 mile ride in July 2003. It was a training ride for the MS150 as it was called then. This was a very brave step for me as Mike (my husband) was working at church on Sunday mornings and I’m not great at trying new things on my own. Doug Waldman (my boss, and Team Superior’s sponsor) rode his bike from his home in Bixby to ride with me and the group. I thought then that I couldn’t imagine ever riding that far in one day. By the way, without trying I “shamed” Mike into riding that first MS ride – he wasn’t going to be the guy sitting on the couch while I did 150 miles.
Drive and tenacity can overcome most any obstacle. And Danny has proven that time and time again. Starting on a flat-bar bike, he’s quickly moved up the speed and distance ranks, never letting little things like heat, humidity, or crashes set him back. I called him “Red-Line” in the title because this man will readily max his engine and then some to push himself harder and faster. In the list of Unsung Heroes, I’d list him as a “Perpetual”, because I’ve never seen weather, distances, grades or climbs stop him, and I know I never will.
Rolling: How long have you been riding? And I don’t mean big-wheels or tricycle-type riding. I mean “Please have me committed so I can stop pedaling” riding.
Danny Brooks: I have been riding in earnest for 4 years. 1.5 years on my own and 2.5 riding with a team (Superior).
Rolling: What got you into riding in the first place?
DB: There are many, but the main reason was health. Triple bypass at 53 (St Francis). I participated in outpatient cardio rehab. It is there that I learned how important exercise and nutrition are to having a quality lifestyle. When I had my surgery I was given a second chance. I am not going to blow it this time. I want to live to be 100. But not an old fogey 100. I want to be me as good as I can be at 100. I hope that means I am riding bicycles, chasing my girl, and eating good food (not necessarily in that order!).
It’s easy to find stories about the pros. About the supposedly exceptional. Many of those athletes are. But others amongst the pros, well… In any case, what we rarely find is stories about athletes like us. Athletes who are just as inspirational, if not more so. Who don’t get paid to do this, but work just as hard for their successes.
To that end, I’m starting a new section of this blog called “Everyday Athletes”. This section will contain interviews and profiles of people who aren’t in the pro peloton. Normal, everyday Joes and Janes who train with us, suffer with us, succeed with us, and inspire us to be better than what we are today.
If you know of a local, non-pro athlete who you’d like to see featured in this section, let me know. We all have something to contribute to the journey.