Tuesday, July 7, 2015
By Andie King Phil Knoll is pedaling for dol-
lars. The Orange senior citizen, who will soon turn 79, is bicy- cling the Columbia River Gorge, from Bridal Veil to Ontario, Or- egon, to raise funds for the Cerro Villa Middle School and Villa Park High School instrumental music programs. He plans to complete the 400-
mile adventure in five days, trav- eling up to 107 miles in one day. A friend had planned to ride with him, but dropped out. He’s not worried, though, “I always meet lots of nice people,” he says. “It’s the dogs that I have trouble with.” He once was forced to pour water on a troublesome Doberman. This will be Knoll’s seventh
trip on behalf of the VPHS band. He began riding bicycles in 1950 as a Boy Scout, and later became a cycling merit badge counselor. But it wasn’t until he was 42 that he began riding long distances in earnest. He had contracted a lung infection, and the drugs caused a weight gain; he began riding his bike to work each day for the aer- obic benefits. On a whim, he de- cided to ride to Yosemite to meet his family vacationing there. A year later, he pedaled round-trip between Orange and Yosemite. Then, in 1981, he began combin- ing pedaling and fundraising.
A penny earned He was a teacher and band
director with Orange Unified School District for 38 years, the only teacher to both open and close Peralta Junior High. A vio- linist from the age of six, he stud- ied instrumental and vocal music in college, adding Spanish to the mix in grad school at Chapman. As a band director, he grew tired of trying to fundraise by selling light bulbs and candy bars, so, when his students needed band uniforms, he pedaled from Or-
ange to Myrtle Beach, asking one penny per mile. A year later, he rode from California to the World’s Fair in Knoxville, before continuing on to Atlanta. As “Mr. Knoll’s Opus” grew
to include an orchestra, he con- tinued to ride hundreds of miles each year for the music depart- ment. After Peralta closed, Knoll moved to Cerro Villa Middle School, where he taught Span- ish and history before seguing to choir, a girls drill team, band and orchestra. “The last 10 years,” he
said, “were the most fun.” His strings group placed first in the county 10 times in a row, and won six superior ratings at regional competitions. He taught (VPHS band director) Major Chuck Jay’s kids, and taught John Johnson (a VPHS music teacher) to play the trombone. His two children at- tended VPHS, and his grandsons were in the band.
Miles for music He has continued to pedal, churning out 6,000 to 7,000 miles
per year. In 1995, he switched to a recumbent bike, citing com- fort and speed. He is now on his fourth recumbent bike, a lighter aluminum model. He likes to ride early in the morning, before his wife is up, and averages 112 miles a day, traveling at an aver- age speed of 12 to 18 mph. As re- cently as last year, he set a record in his division at the Huntsman World Senior Games, despite a broken leg earlier in the year. He no longer camps when he’s on the road, but books motels.
He travels light. His bike weighs only 24 pounds, plus the fairing and windbreaker. He carries a change of clothes, tire tubes and a trash bag, for protection in the rain. Knoll misses working with students and performing, but ap- preciates the opportunity to have fun, pedaling for music money. Donations may be sent to Villa
Park High School, 18042 Taft St., Villa Park, CA 92867, c/o Chuck Jay. And if you need a band, Phil would like you to know he plays keyboard in a fun trio.
Phil Knoll shows off a memento from his first ride.
With a custom reclining bicycle, Knoll is always ready to roll.
Arden House needs
volunteers If you enjoy local history and
would like to share your inter- est with others, Arden, Helena Modjeska’s historic house and garden, is looking for you. Arden was designed for the
Shakespearean actress back in 1888 by New York archi- tect Stanford White, and is one of only two national historic landmarks in Orange County. A diverse array of volunteer
opportunities awaits at Arden and includes leading tours, as- sisting in the gardens, working on exhibits and historic furnish- ings and community outreach. Interested parties will be
welcomed by current docents and volunteers, tour the house and grounds, learn about volun- teering with OC Parks and enjoy lemonade and light refreshments at a meeting on Saturday, July 18 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Arden is at 29042 Modjeska Canyon Road. For more information, call … (949) 923-2227 or email emily. email@example.com
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