Roy Knickman was a teen BMX rider, a local racer with some of his friends, when his bike was stolen at the beach.
When it was time to get a new bike, people at a shop encouraged him to take up road cycling.
Before he turned 20, Knickman was an Olympic medalist.
Knickman’s accomplishments don’t end there, however, as he went on to a professional career on the European and US circuits and was an 11-time national champion. But Knickman will be one of the many participants in Augusta from June 20-24 competing in the USA Cycling Elite, Juniors, U23 & Paralympic Road National Championships. Participants will compete for national titles in the time trial, road race and criterium events.
“It’s going to be a busy time because I’ll be managing a group of eight athletes racing in three different categories. We’ll have racing for five days so it’s a little tricky logistically: all the equipment we have to bring, to support them, and the fact I was going to do a few races myself,” Knickman said with a chuckle. “But I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Knickman, 46, won a bronze medal in men’s team time trial at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and later was the United States’ men’s road coach at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
Though he’s not done racing – he’s particularly looking forward to the elite time trial here in Augusta – a chunk of his time in recent years has been spent with his family or as a coach.
Knickman coaches one of his sons, Bo, who is 13 years old and is also coming to Augusta. Knickman is aware of rider burnout at a young age, so he tries to make riding fun by going on night rides.
Knickman’s other son, Andreas, has been fighting cancer, and he’s been cancer-free for a year. Knickman, who lives in California, was unable to make it to Augusta in 2011 because of his son’s cancer, which has already come back once, but Knickman is making the trip this year as a rider-coach.
“I prefer working young amateur riders instead of professionals. There’s a lot more to give and a lot more to teach,” he said. “They’re proud of being athletes, of being disciplined.”
Knickman knows what it’s like to compete at such a young age like his son, Bo.
Knickman was only 19 when he won the bronze medal; he was five years younger than his youngest teammate.
As time has passed since then, Knickman has appreciated the experience to a greater extent, especially how he finished the job after two teammates fell back.
“Now, later in life, it means a lot more, to have done that, to have represented the country, to, on the day of the Olympics. I ended up having a really, really good day and helped carry the team to a bronze medal.
“For me to have a big day and put it together on the one day of the year I really needed to race well ... I was super happy to have it all figured out and give that performance.”