BY COREY GESFORD
A Susquehanna County businessman and Clifford Township supervisor is utilizing a personal goal to benefit county residents in the quest to bring a recreational facility to the county.
Dennis Knowlton, president of Knowlton and Sons Masonry Construction and owner of Strive Multisport, began a journey in the Trans Am Bicycle Race in Oregon on June 2. The race covers over 4,300 miles going from Oregon to Virginia. As of Monday morning, June 25, Knowlton was at mile marker 3,160.
Knowlton is competing in the race partly because it’s a race he has wanted to do and secondly to raise awareness and funds for the proposed Susquehanna County Recreation Center. A local group is looking to build a center that would offer the community a place to host youth and adult recreational activities, community events, and serve as a gathering point for all types of community organizations.
Knowlton has always been a bike rider and has been racing and participating in recreational long-distance rides for over a decade.
“Freedom! That’s the feeling I had when I first learned to ride a bike and since then, bicycles have provided a way for me to hang out with family and friends,” Knowlton said in an earlier release.
The grueling Trans Am race has had its challenges for Knowlton, who is the race’s oldest participant. Trail Angels provide assistance for racers along the way to help keep them on track.
“Staying on track has been tough, and I’m not good with Garmin (GPS System),” said Knowlton. “And paper directions take forever.”
According to Knowlton’s daughter, SCRC Fundraising committee member Meghann Boylan, Knowlton sent supplies to three spots along the way to replenish what he would need. Obviously, bikers need to minimalize what they carry so that they can move efficiently, however they also need to be prepared with extra socks and clothes, tire tubes, a small sleeping bag to name just a few things.
While Knowlton is into some flatter stretches now, the trail has presented challenges. A rain storm can put you off the road for minutes at a time. To take advantage of not traveling in high temperatures Knowlton went through Yellowstone National Park at night.
“Coming into Chanute, Kansas, late at night (and off route) there were these weird noises in the woods,” said Knowlton. “They scared me, and I rode quite fast.”
He also acknowledged that the hills in Missouri were grueling and wore on him physically.
Boylan noted that besides hotels, racers can find hostels that are set up by bike companies like Newton Bike Shop along the trail of the race. One hostel group in Oregon even prepared a homemade meal for the participants.
“Dennis got his chocolate ice cream,” said Boylan with hint of humor.
To kickoff the fundraising portion of the venture, a Family Fun Bike Ride and Chicken Barbecue was held at grounds of the Clifford Community Center on May 26. All proceeds went to the fundraising for the building of the Susquehanna County Recreation Center.
As Knowlton travels, individuals and companies can sponsor different portions of the race in his name. Access can be found at the SCRC website www.suscorec.org and you can check Dennis’ progress at http://trackleaders.com/transam18 .
As of Monday, over $9,000 has been pledged to go along with the $15,600 raised at the Family Fun Bike Ride. These proceeds will go toward the schematic design phase of the project which costs up to $160,000, according to SCRC Board President Ashley Kilmer.
Knowlton approached the SCRC about their mission and goals, and when he realized how his goals and the SCRC goals meshed, he along with Boylan and rest of the fundraising committee went to work on a way to combine efforts.
“ (Knowlton) has been able to reach out to so many people and share his journey to living a healthier life,” said Kilmer. “And we want those same opportunities for the Susquehanna County community.”