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Stefan Schäfer

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To properly capture the RHC Racer’s POV we’ve partnered with Specialized’s five-man five-person RHC super team: Specialized/Rocket Espresso. We’re talking about Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slovenia), Eamon Lucas (USA), Alec Briggs (UK), Stefan Schäfer (Germany), Carla Nafría (Spain); 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:

  1. He won the 2017 Red Hook Criterium – Brooklyn.
  2. He’s 1000% German, in a really good way.
  3. He’s afraid of heights.
  4. He’s quiet and kind and training to be a Police Officer.
  5. We like him.
  6. He races Six Day races.
  7. 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.

Twenty-and-tweleve Questions With Stefan Schäfer

What’s your name? Age? Hometown? Current Residence?

Stefan Schäfer, 31 years, Cottbus, Germany.

What/how/why/when did you start riding bikes?

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.

What are your cycling career High Points? Awards, palmarès, life defining moments, wins, religious experiences, etc. Make a list. Don’t be shy.

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.

What are your cycling career Low Points? Crashes, mistakes, fuck-ups, etc. Make a list.

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.

Do you have a day job? If so what is it? How does it make you a better racer? How does racing make you better at your day job?

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.

Manual for Speed thinks of the Red Hook Criterium series as the future of cycling. It’s urban, it’s gladiatorial, it’s thrilling, it’s colorful, it’s a knife fight. Cycling fans and non-cyclists think it’s thrilling. To us it represents an evolution of bicycle racing. What do you think about this idea? What makes these races so special?

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!

Why do you care about racing? Why is it important to you?

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.

How do RHCs compare to regular crit racing? How do RHCs compare to World Tour stage racing?

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.

Do you think of yourself as a “gladiator of the street?” If not why not?

I’m not a gladiator. I’m an officer. 😉 I try to reduce the risk as much as possible.

What’s the one thing you wish fans and non-racers understood about racing the RHC?

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!

What would make RHCs even better?

A live broadcast, especially on TV.

In what ways are RHCs similar to the new Mad Max movie? Or any Mad Max movie?

Okay, now this seems more like a test of knowledge than an interview! I love Fury Road but I don’t know the answer.

We imagine that you’ve raced non-fixed gear criteriums as well. What are the big differences between these two styles of racing? In terms of speed, strategy, time of day? Promotion? Location? Media? Vibes?

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.

Is there a different sense of risk vs reward in the RHC races? What’s on the line for you as a racer?

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.

What about fixed gear racing makes it more interesting than geared bike racing?

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.

Tell us about bike handling, reading a race, and fitness. How do you think about them as they apply to RHC racing? How are they different from regular crits?

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.

What about the event itself? These races have a party atmosphere. Lots of action going on before, during, and after the race. Are you into it? Do think it’s an important part of the culture of these races?

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.

How intense is the contact between you and other riders when you’re out there on the course? If possible please use a metaphor to describe the feeling of this contact.

I’m more of a soft and non-risky rider, I try to avoid as much contact as possible.

What metaphor best describes the feeling of the race in general? For example: Scorpion Rumble, Badger Brawl, A Storm of Falling Glass, etc.

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”.

Speaking of gladiatorial combat, what is your favorite action movie fight scene?

Me on duty. 😉

What is your biggest fear? What is your biggest hope?

I’m afraid of heights.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a race? Don’t be shy, just own it. Dish.

I went the wrong way in a time trial. Guess what, it wasn’t a shortcut…

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done in a race? Tell us all about it!!!!!

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.

Speaking of fear, one a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, how afraid are you when you’re racing in one of these events? Please explain.

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.

If you weren’t racing the RHC series what would you be doing?

I keep myself busy! I would do road races, track races (especially stayer races) and of course non-fixed crits in the us!

Is racing the RHC series your dream? If not what’s your dream? Tell us about your dream.

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.

Do you have non-bike, non-athletic related hobbies/interests? If so what are they?

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.

Do you have a power animal? If not you should, please assign yourself one. What is it? Why?

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!

What do you like most about your bike? Get specific.

I’ve never ridden a Specialized but I’ve always wanted to. I’m happy I get to now!

What do you like most about your sponsors? Go big and get specific!

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.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done, or thought about doing? Yes, we are going to publish this but that’s not relevant right now. More importantly, this is therapeutic. We’re asking this for your own good. Please take a solid step outside your comfort zone and tell us something you’ve never told anyone before. Trust, reach deep, it’s part of the process.

I used my police license in private for an advantage which is forbidden as a student!!

Maybe you have a hero all lined up for this question, maybe you don’t. Either way, who is your hero and why? It does NOT need to be an athlete, but it’s okay if it is.

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.

Fun Facts With Stefan Schäfer

Favorite Food


Favorite Color


Favorite Band/Song

Linkin Park – “New Divide”

Favorite Movie/Video Game

The Dark Knight and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

Favorite Cartoon

The Simpsons.

Favorite Book (Can You Read?)

I’m illiterate.

Pre-Race Superstition

Having a Coke and getting nervous.

If you weren't a cyclist what would you be?

Fat, lazy and unhappy.

What do you do when you're bored?

Watch TV.


My tower of strength.

Guilty Pleasure(s)



Star sign? Capricorn.

Prized Possession

My daughter!

What's most surprising about you?

I’m German, but friendly! 😉

Celebrity Crush

Taylor Swift.

Celebrity Role Model

Leonardo DiCaprio.

Worst Fear(s)

Getting mauled by a bear or hitting a deer out in the mountains alone, without cell service.

Bad Habits


Favorite Quote

“If you’re good at something, never do it for free!”–The Joker, The Dark Knight


Not every day.

What's your favorite smoothie!!!???

Anything with mango.

Weirdest Dream

I died, then watched everyone still alive.

Hidden talents

Mostly useless stuff, like being good at PlayStation games.

Fanmail Address


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