Kittie Weston-Knauer, 72, has struggled with osteoarthritis since she was in her 20s. But her painful joints never stopped the Des Moines, Iowa, mom and grandmother from staying active.

Growing up with five brothers, one sister and an attitude that “anything they could do, I could do better,” Weston-Knauer became an avid cyclist at age 10 when she received her first bike. As a middle school teacher, she commuted to work by bike for eight years. But it wasn’t until her 40s that she discovered a passion for BMX racing, thanks to her son.

“As a family, we were going to all of his races,” she recalls. “I didn’t know squat about the sport, but I remember my son said, ‘If you think it’s so easy, try it!’”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Weston-Knauer borrowed her son’s bike. “I quickly realized this wasn’t like street or bike path biking,” she says. “I was hooked on the thrill, the exhilaration.”

The mom of two finished her first race at age 40, the only mom on the track. Now, she reigns as the oldest female BMX competitor in the country—even after having both her hips and knees replaced within a year.

“I love it,” she says. “Every time I get on my bike, I win, no matter where I place. To me, BMX is all about the joy and the freedom of expression. It’s knowing that every time I’m out there I’m having a good time.”

Article first appeared on January 14, 2018

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