'Why Don't You Try It?': How The Oldest U.S. Female BMX Racer Broke Into The Sport Kittie Weston-Knauer and her son Max Knauer have spun bonding time into an extreme sport. Thirty years ago, Max egged her on to try BMX racing; at 69, she's still pedaling in races all over the U.S.
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'Why Don't You Try It?': How The Oldest U.S. Female BMX Racer Broke Into The Sport

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'Why Don't You Try It?': How The Oldest U.S. Female BMX Racer Broke Into The Sport

'Why Don't You Try It?': How The Oldest U.S. Female BMX Racer Broke Into The Sport

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are heading into Mother's Day weekend. And so in StoryCorps, how about we hear from a mother and son who made family bonding an extreme sport? Kittie Weston-Knauer is the oldest female BMX bicycle racer in the U.S. She's about to turn 70. And when she started competing in the late 1980s, she was often the only woman on the track. Her son Max Knauer, a champion BMX rider himself, introduced her to the sport when he was 10 years old.

MAX KNAUER: I was having a bad week racing. And you're giving me pointers. You got to pedal. You got to keep pedaling. And at the time I was like, well, if it looks so easy to you, then why don't you try it?

KITTIE WESTON-KNAUER: And it was Mother's Day of '88. I did my very first race. I was 40. I borrowed your gloves. I borrowed your helmet. And I rode your bike. I was hanging on for dear life. I didn't exactly tear up the track, either.

KNAUER: I said, I told you so.

WESTON-KNAUER: (Laughing) True. But I tell you what - I had a whole new respect for what you were out there doing. And the other thing I said was, well, hey, this is something I can do.

KNAUER: At first, I was a little embarrassed, I guess. But, you know, after doing it a little while, and we were traveling together, it was great. I thought it was really cool how other mothers really looked up to you. But I was a little concerned.

WESTON-KNAUER: Why was that?

KNAUER: People always got hurt and break an arm, collarbone. And then you ended up having a cycling accident. You had broken your neck. And then seeing you in the hospital was pretty tough, especially considering the doctor saying that she might not walk again.

WESTON-KNAUER: Right. I was paralyzed from the shoulders down. But I was very determined that I was going to ride again.

KNAUER: And seeing you get back on the track - I was a little nervous at first, but you were doing what you love to do. I mean, that was really inspiring.

WESTON-KNAUER: You know, people ask me, you continue to race? And my question to them is, well, why not? As long as I can keep the two wheels on the ground, I'm good.

GREENE: Kittie Weston-Knauer and her son Max Knauer. Today, Max is retired from the sport of BMX, but Kittie is still going strong. Their conversation is going to be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNAKE OIL'S "THE WET STREETS SHINE FOR US")

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