Peter Knoop is relatively new to Chattanooga but he fell right in line at UBS Financial Services, where he routinely mounts up with coworkers for a lunchtime ride downtown. In this month's 9 in 5 profile, the serious cyclist takes stock of his new hometown, his passion for the outdoors and sharing that adventure with his family.
Q & A
How long have you been cycling and what got you started in the sport?
I've ridden for 20 years. I wasn't coordinated enough to play "ball" sports so I grew up running. In college I had some triathletes as running partners and they got me interested in cycling.
How often or what distances do you typically ride?
I generally ride 2-2.5 hours (35-45 miles) daily Tuesday through Friday and up to (but not always) 3.5-5 hrs (60-90 miles) on Saturdays and/or Sundays.
You ride as part of a team. How competitive are you in the sport?
I am a new addition to Motor Mile Racing's roster, a local group of cyclists with a lot of experience. I'm not sure how competitive I am because I have been out of the racing scene for five years. Back then I was putting a lot of time into cycling and I was competitive, routinely traveling anywhere from home to as far as China to fulfill my racing roles on various teams, both domestic and international. As an all-arounder I always filled a support role; I was never good enough to be the "deal closer."
What are your favorite local races and your best finishes or times?
Having been out of it for five years, it's unfair to claim favorites but I always had fun at the River Gorge race and the Raccoon Mountain MTB race. I look forward to the Village Volkswagen River Gorge race. I watched this year and was very envious!
What is your bike of choice and what are your three favorite pieces of gear or gadgets?
Trek sponsors Motor Mile and that's a lucky break for me because my new Trek is great. I would encourage anyone new to the sport, however, to focus less on brand and more on service; investigate the brands at local bike shops and develop a relationship with your favorite shop. They will steer you from buying unnecessary and subpar equipment and they'll keep you on the road if you need repairs. My favorite pieces of gear are light, fast wheels and also my Garmin unit. It records all kinds of nerdy data during the ride and keeps me from getting lost too since I'm still learning these crazy roads around here!
UBS has a devoted group of riders. How many from the local office ride regularly and how did the group get established?
The group came together naturally; it didn't require a special effort. There are eight of us in the office (out of about 30 folks total) who ride regularly, and four of us ride regularly from the office at lunch.
Outside Chattanooga, where are some of your favorite places to ride and what is one location or one event you would most like to ride?
Climbing is my weakest suit but I like riding in the hills. One great family vacation was in Europe and I rode several of the big climbs we see the big pros do on TV (during the Tour de France, for example). For a cycling enthusiast, riding those is magical. At the top of my bucket list is the BC Bike Race, a 7-day Mountain Bike Stage Race from Victoria to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. I learned of it through my coach, who has raced all of the grand tours (Giro, Vuelta, Tour de France, etc.) yet he claims it's the most fun he has ever had on a bike. I hope to talk some of my Motor Mile Racing teammates into signing up for the 2014 edition (2013 is already full!).
Chattanooga gets high praise as a top bike-friendly city. What are some of its best attributes and what are some things you believe need to be improved for the cycling community?
Chattanooga is definitely a great city for cyclists. The roads are clean and generally in good shape; these luxuries are easy to take for granted. The main area for improvement is sharing the road. A big part of the blame is inexperienced cyclists not knowing how to provide courtesy to motorists and also not obeying the same rules as the motorists; on the other hand, part of the blame is attributable to motorists who are impatient, uncivil, foolishly reckless, or just plain mean. I think Chattanooga is small enough that we can realize progress through efforts to enable the two groups to understand one another better and consequently be cool rather than discourteous.
What are some of your other outdoor interests?
I love hiking and camping with the kids, I enjoy trail running, and I want to learn (with the kids) how to boulder. Also I want to hang glide next summer (NOT with the kids), provided my courage holds out.