Society

David Schnabel and his artistic cycling skills

David Schnabel   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

David Schnabel’s eyes light up when he talks about his favourite sport — cycling. “Do you know that my bicycle saddle is around 25 years old? It is from my first bicycle, that I got when I was eight. The frame has changed over the years though,” says David, who can do a lot more than just ride a bicycle. An eight-time world champion in artistic cycling, David is in the city at the invite of Goethe Zentrum Trivandrum, to inspire youngsters to take up the sport and cycling as a lifestyle.

So what exactly is artistic cycling? “It is a form of competitive indoor cycling where athletes perform tricks for points on specialised bikes. It is basically gymnastics on bicycles. The sport involves physical exercises and challenging moves on a bicycle. Although it is not a popular sport, it has a dedicated following in Europe.”

To perform the delicate balancing tricks and backward motion, artistic cyclists use fixed-gear bicycles. The handlebars are similar to those found on a racing bicycle, but are upside-down in comparison, giving the cyclists room to manoeuvre. “The front wheel also has to be free to do a 360 spin,” says David, who executes tricks on his bicycle, right from squats and jumps to saddle stands and wheelies, without batting an eye.

The 33-year-old from Niedernberg, Germany, took up artistic cycling at the age of eight. A sportsperson, David says it was his father, Alfons, who introduced him to the sport. “He told me about it in the passing and I was fascinated.” David soon began training under an instructor. “I trained with him for two years until my dad took over my training.” Although his father is not trained in artistic cycling, he “learnt on the job and did a good job of coaching me in the sport,” explains David.

David Schnabel

David Schnabel   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

David recalls practising on his bicycle twice a week during school days and daily during holidays. “I would also practise other sports like wrestling and table tennis,” says David, who also plays the trumpet and the drums. According to the young cyclist, while some bicycle tricks are quick to learn, others take around two years to be perfected.

Cycling, is something he enjoys as he gets to meet “a lot of nice people” when he is cycling. He realised artistic cycling was something he would like to pursue at the age of 18. “My heart told me it was the right sport for me and I have not looked back.”

Ask him about the lack of protection gear while performing the sport and he laughs saying: “I have faced more injuries in other sports than I have on my bicycle. Only once have I fallen from my bicycle and that was because I wasn’t concentrating while performing a stunt. Concentration is a must when you are on the bike. Besides, it would be tough to perform a headstand on the bicycle with a helmet on.”

Although there is no specific diet one needs to follow as an artistic cyclist, David, says he now eats lighter meals. “I feel healthier and also feel as if I can balance better on my bicycle.”

David has represented Germany nine times in the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships and has won eight golds and one silver; 25 countries participate in the event each year. “Who knows, maybe one day India will send in representatives to the event,” says David, adding that he no longer participates in competitions.

“I have had a good run at the competition field and have enough world titles under my belt. Right now, I want to encourage and train youngsters in the sport,” says the cyclist, who is currently teaching students between the ages of 12 and 16 artistic cycling at the “local club” in his hometown.

David will be holding a workshop with the students of Christ Nagar School, Kowdiar, today. Catch a performance by the artiste at Manaveeyam Veedhi on October 7 at 7 pm.


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 10:12:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/artistic-cyclist-david-schnabel-hopes-to-inspire-youngsters-to-take-up-the-sport/article25122123.ece

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