Article originally from VeloNews.
When Roy Knickman arrived in his hometown of Ventura, California last week, he saw his old high school and neighborhood surrounded by flames. It was 1 a.m. when Knickman arrived with his fire crew, and everywhere Knickman looked, the landmarks of his youth were threatened by the Thomas Fire, now considered one of the worst wildfires in California history.
Knickman told VeloNews that he and his fire team drove straight into a neighborhood of burning houses near the foothills north of downtown, and proceeded to battle the blaze.
“It’s like, ‘Holy crap, we’re driving down Poli street and there’s a 50-unit apartment building with 100-foot flames shooting out of it.’ We drove down Sunset Drive and every house was on fire,” Knickman said. “I used to race my bike on these roads.”
Knickman, 52, is one of the best American cyclists to have raced during the 1980s and 1990s and was one of the first to launch his professional career in the European peloton. He won the Olympic bronze medal in the team time trial at the 1984 Olympics and completed in major races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France. He was teammates with Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault on the La Vie Claire in 1986 and was even a member of Andy Hampsten‘s winning Giro d’Italia team in 1988. During career, which spanned nearly two decades, he won stages of the Coors Classic, Tour de Suisse, and Criterium du Dauphine.