Monday, July 16, 2018
BLOG: CPL Thrill Seekers - Work Hard, Play Hard|
CPL’s team members are known for their hard work, positive attitudes, and big ideas. They know how to push the envelope to find the greatest return. For some, this same determination translates into their life outside of work. Meet a few of CPL’s thrill seekers, who work hard and play hard.
Tim Knapp, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a Senior Vice President and Board member in CPL’s Charlotte office with a focus on healthcare architecture. And, he’s jumped out of an aircraft 653 times (and counting).
Knapp is a D-licensed skydiver, the highest level in amateur skydiving. Attached to nothing but his parachute, Knapp plummets headfirst toward the earth at 220 mph for a rush that’s unlike anything else.
But he wasn’t always so relaxed. Knapp’s first skydiving experience was with his youngest son, Alec, in 2013. Knapp promised he’d take Alec skydiving for his 18th birthday, and when that day came, Knapp was determined not to be an “uncool dad.” Although he was terribly scared and couldn’t sleep the night before, he followed Alec out into the sky as a tandem skydive (where you are physically attached to an instructor). Upon landing, they knew this was the sport for them, so the two enrolled in jump school the next week.
“When you’re in the air, it’s perfectly calm and serene,” Knapp said. “Floating through the air seems like forever, even though it only lasts about 60 seconds.”
After jumping out of many types of aircraft (including helicopters and hot air balloons) and jumping in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, Knapp’s next goal is to jump from a two-passenger biplane.
“You get to sit in the front seat, and once you reach altitude, you just grab onto a bar mounted on the upper wing,” the daredevil said. “When the pilot loops the plane upside down, you just drop out!”
Knapp’s advice for those with the curiosity: “Go and do a tandem skydive! When you get to the ground, you’ll know if it was a once in a lifetime, or if you’ve got to do it again!”
For young Charlotte team members, the advice becomes more of a suggestion—or heavy peer pressure, in Robin Washco, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C’s case.
“Tim was like—you’re doing it. You’re absolutely doing this. And 30 minutes later, it was booked for the next day at noon,” remembers Washco, looking back on Knapp and others “encouraging” her to go skydiving on her 30th birthday.
“I was shaking, I was so nervous! I kept thinking, what just happened?” she said.
Sure enough, the very next day, Washco put all of her faith in the tandem instructor and fell 14,000 feet (see video below).
“Four years later, it’s still marinating. It was the most intense, crazy, unbelievable thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
Now a tradition in Charlotte, team members go skydiving for their 30th birthdays. So far, Rachel Guillot, AIA, LEED GA and Brian Plant, LEED AP have gone. Adam Anzivino, Assoc. AIA is on deck!
Shawn Danek, EIT, a Junior Civil/Municipal Engineer in CPL’s Rochester office catches plenty of air himself on his downhill bike.
A sport he enjoys with his wife and friends across NY state, Danek has been extreme biking for three years, although he’s been biking and doing jumps since he was five years old.
For thrill seekers willing to travel, there are many mountain bike parks to practice downhill biking. Danek has journeyed to Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia for bike parks that offer chair lifts uphill (like ski resorts), allowing plenty of speed and momentum for trails that can have jumps up to 40 feet in distance and drops that are 12-foot high.
For trails and features like these, not just any bike will do. His downhill bike is made for durability and stability and has highly adjustable 8-inch travel suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, slacked out geometry and 2.5-inch-wide knobby tires.
Less durable than a downhill bike is Danek’s collarbone and scapula, unfortunately, which he broke in the spring of 2017.
Still, the adventurer’s biggest goal is to land a backflip to dirt; he’s close, landing it while practicing in a foam pit and on an air bag (video below).
Danek also utilizes winter as a time for training and travels to Cleveland, OH and Ontario, Canada to train at two 100,000+ square foot indoor facilities: Rays Indoor Mountain Bike Park and Joyride 150. When he is not traveling, Danek makes use of Breaking Free Skate Park, the local skatepark in Rochester, NY.
Additionally, Danek uses his winters to practice agility and air awareness, skiing off similarly sized jumps out in Vermont and out west with his wife and family.
“I’d say my biggest accomplishment is getting my wife, Karlee, to fall in love with the sport. For someone who just started mountain biking for the first time three years ago, she is extremely dedicated to the sport and loves every minute she’s out on her bike!” Danek said, reminding us that enjoying our hobbies is worth any bit of danger we might encounter.
This works out for John Nickerson, an Architectural Designer in CPL’s Jamestown office, who competes in demolition derbies for fun.
Nickerson finds old junk cars and gets them running in tip-top shape to compete against 20-30 other drivers in an arena half the size of a football field. Drivers reach speeds of 20-30 mph with the intention of destroying other cars.
“The main goal is to smash other people and be the last one standing,” he said.
Although it looks chaotic, demolition derbies abide by many safety rules. Competitors cannot hit other cars on the driver’s side door. They must remove all interior components of the car except the driver’s seat, dashboard, and steering wheel. Why? Less to be caught on fire. And to prevent fires, competitors must also cut a hole in the hood measuring 12 square inches.
“Yes, I have had my car catch on fire before,” said Nickerson. “You wait for the fire to go out, and if the car is still running, you can keep competing! ”That is, as long as you’re back up and running within the time limit. “You have to make a hit every 60 seconds, or you’ll be disqualified,” explained Nickerson.
Nickerson doesn’t just enjoy it. He’s good at it. Just last week, Nickerson won first place at the Chautauqua County Fair. Keeping it close, Nickerson’s brother, Mark, won second place. Actually, demolition derbies are a Nickerson family tradition.
“My grandpa used to do it, and my dad did it for more than 30 years,” he said. “We grew up around it.”
Nickerson drove in his first derby at 17 years old and has kept with it every summer for seven years. So, he knows the tricks of the trade, buying two to four cars every year with the expectation they’ll all eventually be totaled.
Whether you want to compete or just watch, Nickerson says he definitely recommends it.
“Don’t be afraid to give it a try,” he said. “There’s nothing else like it.”
Adalia Fullbeck, an Architectural Intern in our Woodstock office, would tell you the same thing about racing anything that is fast and loud.
“I am a dare devil in hiding,” jokes Fullbeck.
She and fiancé, Richard, love to race ATVs, cars, and jetskis. Most recently, she set a personal record of hitting 120 mph on their new racing jetski. But, they’ve gone even faster in a car. When on a trip to Germany, Fullbeck reached a numbing speed of 160 mph on the Autobahn!
With a past in sponsored motocross racing, fiancé Richard has gone even faster, once hitting 240 mph on a motorcycle.
But, their newest passion lies in dirt track racing—and the hope of getting a sponsorship racing deal. Right now, they’re exploring the differences between dirt tracks and asphalt tracks, hoping to gain more experience in dirt track racing, and building their own dirt track car.
Fullbeck’s advice to anyone who wants to try it: “Don’t be scared, research, be safe, and pay attention!”
Fullbeck will be cutting down on her risk taking for the time being as she shifts her attention to two brand new adventures: her upcoming wedding and her baby boy, due in December!
Perhaps CPL has another thrill seeker in the making.
Amanda Koneski is a Marketing Coordinator with extensive experience in creating content for websites, social media, brochures and mailings; designing digital and print advertising materials; assisting in script writing, planning, and directing for radio and TV commercials; and organizing events. Amanda's everyday focus on marketing includes proposal coordination, social media management and quality content creation. Her hobbies include kayaking, hiking, decorating and campaigning for United Way.
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