Steve Peat Is ‘Shocking At Schralping’

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In the new Santa Cruz Syndicate video, Steve Peat and Loris Vergier look at a couple of simple bermed corners in the woods above Morzine and debate the merits of old school and new school cornering techniques. And in it, Peaty admits that he’s ‘shocking at schralping’… So let’s see what he’s on about…

Old school, new school. Who cares?

Old School: Brake early, stay smooth, stay fast

As 40-something Peaty points out, the old school method, honed from years of un-bermed, rooty World Cup tracks, is to do all of your braking before hitting the corners, then keep smooth and light on the bike, maintaining as much speed as possible before getting back on the gas.

There’s no denying that Mr Peat is still hella speedy

New School: Come in hot, schralp the turn, leave at a new angle, nearly 90° from your entry.

Loris, the excitable youngster, explains that he comes in far too hot, brakes heavy and late, sometimes right in the corner, then violently changes direction with all of his weight going through his rear tyre, before sprinting back up to speed.

Loris is young and fast, but still happy to learn from modern downhilling’s pioneers

Both methods have their benefits, and it’s great to see two masters of the sport, old and new, comparing styles (and riding really, really fast round a couple of simple corners…). The video is at the bottom of the page, but before you absorb the schralp, perhaps you’d like an explanation of ‘schralping’ from our bilingual, ‘down with teh kidz’ contributor, Barney Marsh, from a recent edition of Singletrack Magazine:


Verb. As in ‘Dude, we’re totally heading over to Eamonn Holmes’ Knee – we’re totally going to schralp that descent’.

If one has been paying attention to the endlessly shallow and banal chatter, blather and ephemera that emanates from computer screens these days – and in particular the mountain bike channels – one might have come across a variety of words which, if not entirely baffling to the uninitiated ear, are certainly novel. Some of them are, perhaps, self-explanatory. Some of them are not. 

Case in point, the somewhat onomatopoeic ‘schralp’.

You may not have come across this word before (lucky, lucky you). And, now you’re reading this, I can only apologise.

OK then, what is it? Well, viewed in context we may glean some small modicum of comprehension. Possibly spoken with an admirable sincerity by a full-faced downhiller, of youthful demeanour and enthusiastic gesticulations, it might also be spoken by more progressively aged folk of more modest competencies, with a heavy dose of irony. These older folks (and yes, if you hadn’t guessed, I’m one of them) find themselves thwarted in every attempt to precisely determine the meaning that the younger generation of schralpers ascribe to the word. 

I mean, honestly. Roll it around your tongue. Luxuriate in it. And without preconceptions, without allowing for the bikey-ness of it, allow yourself a sideways glance at a possible meaning before staring at it with all the linguistic forbearance you can bring to muster. 

Yes, that’s right. It does indeed sound exactly like something you’d do by accident to your knee with a potato peeler.

I can’t recall the first time I heard it. Rather than someone young and enthusiastic saying ‘schralp’ with abandon, I suspect it was perhaps someone in the – ahem – early evening of their youth (who wished they were still young and enthusiastic), bandying it about as if it was the password to a secret society they didn’t understand but desperately wanted access to. 

“I’m not telling you what it is, because if you don’t know, I’ll forever be more cool than you,” they seem to imply. “No, I don’t know what it means, but if you think I *do* know, then you’ll think I’m cool too. So that’s the way it’s staying.”

Certainly, among my peers (and probably more than a couple of people who are younger and infinitely more on-trend than we), the word ‘schralp’ is only ever used as an interrogative. As in: “God, that was a bloody awesome descent. I can’t believe I rode that section with such panache/this bike/one foot clipped in/my unmentionables trapped in my zipper/at all (delete as applicable). Did we – I mean, was that… schralping? Did we schralp?” And the rest of the group would nod at each other for confirmation that we all, indeed, schralped. Without knowing what it was. 

It’s exactly that sort of a word.

So, a very basic definition then would be ‘to ride something with stylish aggression, brio, determination and pep’. And this works perfectly well, I suppose. But I’m not at all convinced that that’s all there is to it. It is my contention that the word ‘schralp’ was specifically designed by younger, more fashionable folk so that we oldies can utter it like an ironic mantra as we arse-pucker down something vaguely steep, while they sail majestically over us in a blur of tyre tread, brightly coloured pyjamas and sprocket noise. 

For the word seems to represent something ineffable. An ever-widening gulf between what younger, more ‘rad’ people can do without fear – or even a seeming awareness of the risk – and that we – old, more prone to breakages, more aware of our own mortality and the first name of our mortgage advisor – cannot. It’s a word thin on intrinsic meaning, but it’s laden with portent. 

And as these airborne youngsters soar brightly overhead, we earthbound dreamers will drag our gaze from its favoured spot right to the fore of our front wheels and beholding wistfully their rapidly receding arses, we will mutter: “Yes. Yes. That is schralping.”

And then we will crash. 

Now, enjoy the film. Barney will be round in the interval with ice creams and Panda Pops.

If you enjoyed Barney’s nonsense, then there’s plenty of it in every issue of Singletrack, with a new issue due out at the beginning of October. You have a couple of weeks to get your name down to get hold of that new copy… Upgrade your Membership here.

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Comments (3)

    Schralping’s great (on Instagram) until every impressionable dingbat does it on unmaintained and unsuitable trails and the whole place gets torn up. Leave it for the bike parks kids.

    As Peaty infers, most people can’t schralp, they just do some sort of aggressive skid instead…

    This’ll be why the entry point to most corners in trail centres is has loads of moon crater sized holes and is ****… people who can’t control their back brake properly and skid into corners.
    Not clever… just shiite bike handling.

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