Masters Road Group
National Championships

Atlanta Local Andrew Knight is Working Full-Time and Winning Masters National Titles

By: Jim Rutberg, TORRE  July 24, 2023

Just two years before winning National Championships in the Road Race, Time Trial, and Gran Fondo, Andrew Knight’s road bike was collecting dust in his garage, as it had been more than five years. In fact, except for a few neighborhood rides, Knight had been out of cycling for more than 16 years. In a narrative many USA Cycling members can relate to… then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Neighborhood rides around Atlanta, Georgia led to group rides and new friendships, then the urge to train and compete. Local races in 2021 progressed to national-level races in 2022, culminating in a winning streak in July and August that netted him the 2022 Gran Fondo National Championship in Asheville, North Carolina and two more Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in the Men’s 45-49 Time Trial and Road Race in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With the 2023 Masters and Para-cycling Road National Championships coming up in Augusta, Georgia from August 23-27, Knight is working hard to defend his championships and eager to welcome riders from around the country to race in the Southeast.

Cycling Career, Interrupted

Andrew Knight initially fell in love with road racing after a hamstring injury diminished his ability to perform as a competitive runner at Boston College. After college, he moved to Burlington, Vermont, an area with a strong road cycling community and iconic races like the Green Mountain Stage Race, Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, and Killington Stage Race. From 2001 through 2005, Andrew progressed through the USA Cycling ranks, from Category 5 all the way to Category 1. Completely committed to racing and working full time, in 2004 he used all his vacation days to travel to races and racked up 60 competition days.

By 2005, there were signs Andrew needed a change, and sometimes life finds a way to deliver one. At the Fitchburg Criterium, Andrew crashed and broke his arm. Around the same time, he was recruited by Home Depot to manage “When I joined Home Depot, it was a great opportunity for me,” Andrew recalled. “And I just shifted my priorities to my career and working really long hours. I knew the opportunity in front of me and wanted to put my best foot forward there. I didn't touch my bike for about three years. Part of it was burnout from all the racing, but more of it was that building my career just didn't leave room for bike racing, or even training and riding.”

Fast forward to 2020, and Andrew was living in Marrieta, Georgia, and working as the Vice President, International at Carters, Inc. managing international business for Carter’s, OshKosh, and Skip Hop. “I was doing a ton of travel, 30 or 40 countries a year, 100 nights a year on the road,” Andrew explained. “And I have a family and two young children. So, there was little opportunity to do a whole lot on top of work and family priorities.”

The COVID-19 pandemic changed Andrew’s work schedule overnight. He was grounded, his extensive business travel canceled, and working from home. “My bike was sitting in the garage, all dusty. I hadn’t been on it in five years. And I thought, ‘Ah, maybe I should dust that off.’ I have all this time now that I'm not on the road. And literally, that's how it started.”

Return to Racing

Although he had lived in Atlanta for 15 years, Andrew was unfamiliar with the local cycling community, local clubs, and group rides. Gradually, as restrictions on public gatherings eased, he found some local rides and eventually connected with the North Georgia Cycling Association. “I had decent training through the winter of 2020. As I started to get my fitness back, I thought, ‘You know what, let me jump into some masters races.’ As soon as I got started in the spring of 2021, the competitive streak just kicked right back in and I started doing well,” he commented.

An analytic thinker with a mind for data, Andrew also jumped into training with technologies that were in their infancy during his earlier racing days. “It was eye-opening to see what happened in training technology over 20 years. I got a power meter in 2020 and I can remember very clearly doing my first Time Trial with power. It was an absolute game-changer. I was just blown away by the ability to pace using a power meter.” Like many working parents and career professionals, Andrew leverages power, heart rate, indoor cycling, and analysis software to use his limited training efficiently.

The National Championships Journey

By 2022, Andrew had progressed to racing on the NGCA Elite Team in Pro/1/2 road races, criteriums, and time trials in the Southeast, along with Masters races in the 45-49 age group. Still, he was uncertain about making the trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 2022 Masters Road National Championships. The logistics of traveling with two bikes, taking time off work, and dealing with the altitude in Albuquerque were daunting. But he received encouragement from the very riders he was competing against in the Southeast.

“I had a conversation with Owen Shott, who has won a couple of Masters National Championships,” Andrew recalled. “He basically sat me down and said, ‘Andrew, you have to go. There's no debating this. You have a very strong shot at competing for the win in both the road race and the TT. You have to go.’ So, that was in June of 2022, and after that conversation, I talked to my wife and decided I’d go do it.”

Before competing at Masters Road National Championships in August, Andrew drove up to Asheville, North Carolina to compete in the Gran Fondo National Championships, which featured timed-segment racing. “It's a really interesting format. I think it's great for cycling, I think it encourages participation. So, I'm a huge fan of them. My performance at Gran Fondo Nationals reinforced my decision. After winning my first National Championship in my age group I thought, ‘Okay, I think I can definitely be competitive in Albuquerque.”

Winning in Albuquerque

To minimize the negative effects of traveling to altitude, Andrew arrived in Albuquerque the day before his time trial event. “I was shocked at how the air resistance changes. Yes, the power is lower, but I don't think I've ever had so much fun in a TT. I was just giggling the whole time because I was doing 30 miles an hour.”

After winning the Men’s 45-49 Individual Time Trial, he moved on to the Road Race the following day. “Before Nationals I talked with Brendan Sullivan, who won on the Albuquerque course in 2021. He gave me lots of tips and suggestions for the course. It was going to be two laps with one big climb and he said, ‘Andrew, your best bet is to attack on the second time up the climb, and then TT to the finish.’ And he was right!”

Looking towards Augusta in 2023

Although Andrew credits training and good strategies for his victories at Masters National Championships, he also realizes he was an unknown quantity in 2022. Heading into the 2023 Masters Road National Championships in August, Georgia, he knows he can’t count on anonymity as an advantage. “I'm super excited that Nationals are in my backyard in Augusta, Georgia. To be able to drive somewhere with two bikes versus flying is a huge win. In the Time Trial I can obviously just ride my own race. The Road Race is going to be a completely different story. It's going to be much more challenging for me this year defending the jersey than it was last year earning it.”

Speaking about the road course in Augusta, Andrew added, “The course on Fort Gordon is a rolling course. It does have about a half-mile hill at the finish, but nothing like the Albuquerque climb, which created a lot of separation because it was steep, long, and difficult. Georgia in August is also hot and humid. So, there may not be the altitude challenge, but the heat and humidity will impact people who are not used to racing in Georgia in August.”

Whether he wins another Masters Road National Championship or not, Andrew is grateful for the support and camaraderie he’s found through his return to competitive cycling. “The North Georgia Cycling Association has provided great support throughout what I call “The Comeback”. I’d say the whole Atlanta cycling scene has been fantastic, from a training and racing perspective. Georgia is a great place for cycling and I can’t wait to share it with riders who come here for Masters National Championships!”

Visit the 2023 Masters Road & Para-cycling National Championship page for more information on this years event.