I Thirty-Two Questions™ with Stefan Schäfer
- THIS INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED A WEEK BEFORE STEFAN SCHÄFER WON THE 2017 RED HOOK BROOKLYN CRITERIUM.
- SOME OF THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN TWO DAYS BEFORE STEFAN SCHÄFER WON THE 2017 RED HOOK BROOKLYN CRITERIUM.
- SOME OF THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN WHILE STEFAN SCHÄFER WAS WINNING THE 2017 RED HOOK BROOKLYN CRITERIUM.
To properly capture the RHC Racer’s POV we’ve partnered with Specialized’s five-man RHC super team: Specialized/Rocket Espresso. We’re talking about Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slovenia), Eamon Lucas (USA), Alec Briggs (UK), Stefan Schäfer (Germany), and Akinori Yamamura (Japan); an international hit squad of RHC specialists with the express goal of taking the overall championship. To better understand their individual and team motivations, hopes, dreams, wants, needs and desires, as they relate (and don’t relate) to the RHC, MFS is going DEEP. We will live with them, sleep with them, follow them, eat with them, race with them, talk with them, video them, photograph them, write about them, etc etc etc. If we can mind meld with them, we’ll do it.
7 Reasons Why You Should Care About Stefan Schäfer:
- He won the 2017 Red Hook Criterium – Brooklyn.
- He’s 1000% German, in a really good way.
- He’s afraid of heights.
- He’s quiet and kind and training to be a Police Officer.
- We like him.
- He races Six Day races.
- I (Daniel Pasley) recognize him from somewhere. I can’t quite place it, but that feeling of familiarity, vague though it is, makes think he’s truly a good person.
Stefan Schäfer, 31 years, Cottbus, Germany.
The 31st of August, 1996. I did a long ride with my grandpa, which woke my love for cycling! I started with small road races.
Cycling high points: European Stayer Champion 2016, Military World Champion 2013 and of course the win at Red Hook Milano last year. I rode the Vuelta a Cuba in 2006. It was one of the most impressive tours in another country I have ever seen! The birth of my daughter in 2015 was one of the most emotional moments in my life.
Luckily I haven’t crashed that much so far, hopefully it will continue! I did break my arm in 2002, but that was the only major injury so far! I’ve made a few mistakes in the past, and I think they kept me away from becoming a pro. But that’s life.
I study at the police school. I become a police officer in October 2017! Handling both parts of my life is a daily challenge but I don’t regret it! The sport keeps me fit, focused and hungry for success. I find similar benefits in my police study/job as well.
In my opinion, the main advantage of Red Hook is the fact that the bikes have no brakes. This makes every non-cyclist thinks “What? Are you serious? How could they be so insane and how do they stop?” So they watch a race full of speed, adrenaline, noise and action. Compared to a normal race it’s much more interesting. The party is big and racing into the night is new/special/non-average, so it’s just UP TO DATE!
I’ve been cycling for over 20 years. It’s the “steady” part in my life. When I ride I can think about everything, enjoy being out in nature, feel free and do a good thing for my health.
I’ve never ridden in the World Tour, but RHC is shorter, more intense and harder for the head! You have to be constantly concentrated and focused about what’s going on in front/besides/behind/next to you. In normal crits you can take a short break and a deep breath, but RHC is more difficult to get back up front once you end up in the back.
I’m not a gladiator. I’m an officer. 😉 I try to reduce the risk as much as possible.
It’s NOT as EASY as it looks! Some people have told me before, “You will win every race, they are just bike messengers, dope smoking dudes and slow guys on fixies!” They were all totally wrong!
A live broadcast, especially on TV.
Okay, now this seems more like a test of knowledge than an interview! I love Fury Road but I don’t know the answer.
There are huge differences between crits in the US and Germany. In Germany, crits aren’t that popular and there only a few spectators. There is no good racing mood or party.
Crits in the US are awesome. Many spectators, curvy courses, riding into the night and fast as hell. It is more difficult to ride tactically in RHC though. The speed feels about the same, but in a non-fixed crit there are more attacks, I think. The crits I’ve ridden in here are promoted well and had are held in cool locations. But RHC has an even better and more intense media focus before, during and after the races.
Before my first RHC in London 2016 I was pretty nervous. It looked more dangerous than normal crits/races. But after a few laps I noticed that it’s not more dangerous than other races.
For me, both are interesting. One thing special to fixed gear races is that you need to know how fast can you go in each turn. With just one gear, knowing your speed is very important.
To ride a RHC succesfully you need to have all these three things you listed. Bike handling is more important in a RHC than in a normal race. When you’re get into trouble but you can’t stop pedaling, it’s not for beginners! Riding a RHC requires a lot of experience.
The party atmosphere is what RHC is almost all about. I always join the parties after the race to chat with other competitors, and it’s always a lot of fun. If they took away the party part, they would kill the RHC spirit.
I’m more of a soft and non-risky rider, I try to avoid as much contact as possible.
That’s a tough one for a German… I feel the hectic mindset and the tension of everyone in the first few laps. At the start line it’s like “the calm before the storm”.
Me on duty. 😉
I’m afraid of heights.
I went the wrong way in a time trial. Guess what, it wasn’t a shortcut…
I let one of my best friends win a race as a big thank you. We were both out front and behind us there was a crash, he was doing the lead out and I didn’t overtake him, just pushed him over the finish line.
8! You never know what the following RHC will bring you. Because of the fact that there are just four races each year, every race is like the first race for me.
I keep myself busy! I would do road races, track races (especially stayer races) and of course non-fixed crits in the us!
It is a challenge that lets me prove myself. I’ve dreamed a lot, now I’m 31! I try to have as many memorable moments as possible.
I love to travel. I love to see the world. Maybe there’s a dream. I want to visit 100 countries in my life… 64 remaining.
The wolf, fascinating animals (how they hunt and live). They are like a superhero dog! And finally they are back in East Germany after more than 20 years!
I’ve never ridden a Specialized but I’ve always wanted to. I’m happy I get to now!
That they give me (from Germany) the chance to be a part of this great team and that they put so much trust in my performance on the bike.
I used my police license in private for an advantage which is forbidden as a student!!
My hero is my girlfriend because she’s lived with me for six years! She is always there for me, works hard, and has to care for our little daughter all alone when I’m away racing for a long time. She gives me power, trust, happiness and all the other positive vibes I know.
II Fun Facts with Stefan Schäfer
WHOOSH is made possible by:
Artwork by Michiel Schuurman.