AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST JANUARY 2020
Riding as a family
Amanda Knapp Passes Love Of Riding To Husband, Kids
Everyone who rides remembers who or what got them into riding. In the case of the Knapp family, it was the matriarch, Amanda, who got her husband and three children to give riding a try.
AMA member Knapp grew up riding dirt bikes, but put it aside for 15 years for college and graduate school. After rediscovering her passion for motorcycles, she got her husband and children into riding and racing.
Now, Knapp, her husband Ryan and their son Riley have AMA No. 1 plates.
The “Knapp Pack,” as the family of five calls itself, is a great example of how motorcycling can bring a family closer together.
Back in the saddle
Dirt bikes were a big part of Amanda Knapp’s childhood. She grew up in rural West Virginia, where her first motorcycle was a Honda 70. She later had a Yamaha YZ125 and a Honda CR250 before taking her long break from riding.
As a reward for earning her doctorate from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2015, Knapp received a gift from her mother—a KTM 300 XCW. That KTM is the motorcycle that kickstarted the process that got the Knapp Pack on two wheels.
Getting the pack riding
Knapp’s first motorcycling student in the Knapp Pack was her husband, Ryan. Amanda said Ryan threw a leg over a bike for the first time at age 35 and did not know how to use a clutch.
The kids in the Knapp Pack got started when they were young. When the family would visit Amanda’s father in West Virginia, he had motorcycles for the family to ride.
All five members of the Knapp family ride recreationally. Amanda said the family enjoys riding the Boyer Farm in Romney, W.Va., as well as some of the trails in western Maryland.
Getting on track
A few members of the Knapp Pack have progressed from recreational riding to riding competitively.
Amanda and her son, Riley, were the first of the Knapp Pack to give racing a try. The two entered an East Coast Enduro Association hare scramble when she was 34 and he was 6.
It wasn’t long before Ryan also found himself competing in ECEA events. He took part in his first race at age 37.
“Since racing with the ECEA Hare Scramble Series, we have gained a lot of confidence, made new friends and expanded our horizons by trying out a variety of formats,” Amanda said.
The racing members of the Knapp Pack competed in the new-for-2019 Sprint Cross Country Series and in the 2019 AMA East Coast Hare Scramble Series.
All three Knapp Pack racers were in contention for championships in the latter series, and Amanda and Ryan ended the season with their first AMA No. 1 plates. Hers was in the Women’s C Class. His was in the Senior C Class.
Riley raced in a highly-competitive 85cc 12-15 Class and came up 6 points short of the class title as runner-up to his friend, Vincent Caramanna.
Two of the Knapp Pack also had success racing in the SXCS in 2019. Amanda and Riley clinched AMA No. 1 plates in the Women’s C and 85cc Senior 12-15 classes.
While two of the Knapp Pack children, Gracie and Mason, don’t ride competitively, they take on supporting roles at racing events. Gracie helps at the registration table, and Mason assists Ryan with laying out the course at SXCS events.
The Knapp Pack ‘s racers plan to compete in all 2020 SXCS events, and the family hopes to take a trip or two out west to ride the public trails there.
“Wherever we end up, we’re sure to be smiling with our motorcycles in tow,” Knapp said.
Family and Riding
For the Knapp pack, riding motorcycles isn’t just something everyone happens to do. Riding has become an integral part of family life and has brought the family closer.
“Our family, friends and those in our community know that almost every conversation will end with something about racing, a dirt bike or a silly story about our adventures on the road together,” Amanda said. “While we all have other interests outside of motorcycling, there is nothing that brings us all together in quite the same way.”
Knapp encourages families who don’t ride together to take up motorcycling. She credits her family’s love of motorcycling with teaching her kids a work ethic, following rules and teamwork.
“I am always in awe at the level of maturity and sportsmanship that the kids at the races exhibit,” she said. “There is a level of care, generosity and community that is quite special.”
The Knapp Pack’s Motorcycles
KTM 300 XCW (shared by Amanda and Ryan Knapp)
Kawasaki KX85 (Riley Knapp)
Honda CRF230F (Gracie Knapp)
SSR SR189 (Mason Knapp)
Triumph Bobber (shared by Amanda and Ryan Knapp)