Monday, January 19, 2009

Faux Pro

Guest blogger: Jeff Schalk

I’ve only recently learned to ride on the rollers. I was always afraid of learning to use them, not wanting to crash in my own living room and look like an idiot. But, Anna inspired me to give it a try. After living with her for several months and watching her use them on a frequent basis, I began to get a complex… she is a better cyclist than me in many ways. I eventually concluded that a full-time cyclist should be able to ride rollers, so I gave it a try and it wasn’t so bad. Now I feel a little less like a phony, though I still nearly kill myself every other time I try to dismount the damn things. So, I’m still an idiot.

This reminds me of the many other things that I took way too long to learn how to do as a cyclist. The most ridiculous of all was simply learning how to ride without my hands on the bars – it wasn’t until my third year as a Pro when this happened… pathetic. It never really seemed that important as a MTB’er, and I apparently never thought I’d win anything worthy of having my arms raised. Then, I somehow won the Shenandoah 100 two years ago. I set the course record and took down Floyd Landis in the process, and as I crossed the finish line, all I could think was: “I am a tool.” My first winning photo on (see photo): my left hand is firmly planted on the bar and the other is giving a sad little wave of embarrassment.

So, I worked on it all last winter just in case I happened to win anything in 2008. Every recovery ride was without hands, and I prepared to look more Pro. My next chance came when I won the Cohutta 100 the next Spring. I took my hands off the bars for the entire paved straightaway as I approached the line, but I had no idea what to do with my arms. As I finished, all I could think of was a scene from the movie Talladega Nights – during Ricky Bobby’s first TV interview, he awkwardly stares at the camera and fidgets and mutters: “I’m not sure what to do with my hands.” So, I still felt like an idiot.

But, I’m getting better at some of these things… with a little practice. If you pass by our place in Frederick, and look up at our second floor window and see me riding the rollers with my arms raised in victory… well, I look like a tool because I’m trying to avoid looking like a tool later on.


K-country said...

It's a good thing you're practicing because it's a heck of lot worse to win and crash raising your arms! Although fun to watch;)

Blue-eyed Devil said...

Damn, the one thing I could do on a bike better than Jeff Schalk and now that's gone! Ah well, so it goes...

Anna said...

Maybe ...but no one can throw a race like you can.

mikejoos said...

Putting your hands in the air is soooo last year. Everyone’s doing the Kelso crouch now days.

gwadzilla said...

crossing the line with your hands on the bars in first place is way cooler than crossing the line with your hands off the bars crashing in first place

although crashing at the line in first place may get you more press than simply crossing the line in first place

the option is yours

these issues are not my worries
I am usually just happy to finish the race

Anna said...

Why be so humble? I expect a repeat victory at Greenbrier. And I think it's better to go down in a blaze of glory than to never be noticed at all.