King of the Mountain

The Schalk Diaries: Piles of It

The snow just doesn’t seem to stop – it keeps on piling up and up. This winter has been brutal – everyone in the country is getting hammered. The Washington DC area has gotten more than 3x the normal amount of snow so far. And the evil coffee pot taunts me every single day: “Stay inside, have one more cup... blow off your ride." But, I've been professional about it. I explain very carefully to the coffee pot each day that it is my contractual duty to go outside and ride my bike regardless of the weather. I’ve really been good about this, I swear it: I’ve been so disciplined, in fact, that I managed 85 hours of training in a 3 week block during January. Many of those rides were on trails coated with a despicable glaze of ice, or saturated with a slippy-slushy blend of mud/ice/snow. Five hours worth of frozen bottles and fingers and glacier spray off my tires have become ‘normal’.

10_0204 Blog 1

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to complain – being a cyclist is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and I’m incredibly lucky to have it. And I’m grateful to Trek for making it possible. But, every job has its unpleasant rough patches and this winter has been just that. No one stuck in a cubicle out there should think it is all fun and games. You certainly aren’t missing out on this part. And I’d be lying if I didn’t recognize some irony since I was once in a cube trying to imagine the other side.

All winter long, I have basked in the humor of the phrase “the grass is always greener…” It was only five years ago that I was structural engineer, wasting away in a cubicle, and dreaming about being a full time athlete. I’d sip my coffee, stare outside, give a big sigh, and think “I can’t wait until I’m done for the day and can go jump on my bike”. And lately, life has turned upside-down: I sip my slushy half-frozen PowerBar drink, stare at all the warm buildings as I pedal by, give a big groan, and think “I can’t wait until I’m done with this miserably cold ride and can go back inside.” To further the irony, engineering has now become a sort of hobby. I still pick up a project here and there and it no longer feels like work... I’d even call it fun.

10_0204 Blog 2

Not fun has been this winter. And I’ve reached some sort of tipping point with the last snow storm that hit the Mid Atlantic and left behind about 30 inches. You know it is bad when the mainstream media labels it ‘snowmaggedon’. Thanks for rubbing it in. So, I’ve dug myself out of the banks and I’m off to South Carolina for a little training camp, in search of warmer, dryer trails…



wow that is really deep snow! you must be one great of a mountain bike rider to do that!

chrissy deJonge

hmmmm, unless you are in sunny, warm BC. If we are not out cheering on the amazing athletes, we have been ripping it up on the trails. They are in mint condition right now!


Jeff cool pics! I just started today looking for my bike today. I really like ride around cities and DC area has a lot of good spots! I live in srpingfield, hopefully in couple weeks i can go out and ride a little bit...
have fun and stay warm!

Joe W

It might be late spring before we see the singletrack again!

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