One half of the Schneider Sisters SKY has been racing since she could barely walk and recently signed with European Boels Dolmans. She sat down with us and spoke about going to gigs at 5 years of age, controlling the music in the team bus, nights out in South America, and the demands of travel as a pro cyclist. 

It seems to be that for successful sibling athletes they’re always either interviewed as a pair or asked to extensively comment about the other if they’re interviewed alone, I’m trying to avoid that but am interested to hear from both of you so I thought I’d ask you each the same questions, and have you answer independently. We’ll start with, when were you born and where did you grow up?

SKY: September 3rd, 1998 in West Allis, Wisconsin.

What is your Current City?

SKY: West Allis is still my home, for the few days I'm not traveling around.

You spend a large part of your life on the road traveling,  it’s no doubt influenced you, how does that extend to music? Do you pick up music from different cities and cultures when you visit?

SKY: It would be a shame to be on the road so much without making some effort to embrace different cultures, some of my best memories of different places were ones made by learning the ways of the locals and how their music is integrated into their culture. No matter where I am in the World, if salsa music comes on, it brings back memories of this December night in a plaza lit by Christmas lights in the mountains of Boyaca, Colombia where these men and their instruments filled up the whole town with salsa music and a friend was teaching  me the steps. When Raggaeton comes on I think of some nights spent in discotecas on the coast of Cartagena & in the heart of Mexico City. Something so lovely about Latin & South America is how much they love to dance, which really shows the impact music has there.

Thats a good effort, so often when I’m traveling I begin with the best intentions but never pick anything up because I’m always so tired and basically in and out. What takes you down to Colombia and Mexico?

SKY: The first time I went to Colombia was for a race, I ended up making some friends that have become like family to me, so now I go back once a year to see them and train. Similar case with Mexico, was flown there for a sponsor event but ended up going back to train 'cuz Wisconsin's winters are so damn cold.  

What was the last race you did? What music did were listening to to get you through the transfers and travel?

SKY: My last race of 2017 was the Thompson Bucks County Classic, which was a criterium in Doylestown, PA. Rewind to 13 days before Doylestown and Sam & I were in Holland starting a 6 day Women's World Tour race with Team USA. At the completion of the Tour, we had one rest day before beginning a 4 day UCI race in Belgium. Immediately after the last race in Belgium- which brought us up the iconic Kapelmuur 3 or 4 times in pouring rain- we had a 3 hour transfer, packed our bikes, and the next morning boarded a flight from Brussels. That night, we landed in Philadelphia, and 13 hours later- with the help of real strong espresso, some songs by Eminem & "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars - we were lined up with our other ISCorp p/b Progress mates and ready to go. Sam ended up winning & I came 3rd.. then we had a 20 hour drive back to Wisconsin! My travel music consists of songs such as, "Everyone Requires a Plan" by the Lumineers, "West Coast" by Lana del Rey, "Flashed Junk Mind" by Milky Chance, "Ain't No Sunshine" Coeur de Pirate, and "This Feeling" Alabama Shakes.

Brutal, but pretty typical of bike racing. How do you cope with traveling so much? Do you board the plane immediately when you’re able or wait until the very last possible moment to get on?

SKY: I've learned that there's no point in letting travel become stressful, kind of embraced the motto "que sera, sera" / "what happens, happens". I always wait until the very last possible moment to board a plane, I'm never in any rush to be trapped inside.  

I always wonder that about people who travel a lot. What music do you remember growing up around? Who was the first person to get you into music?

SKY: My uncle Ronnie used to manage bands, when I was 4 or 5 years old we would go see them play at various venues late at night. I always wore these little white leather boots and danced without a care to songs like "Strange One" by The Lovelies. I still love going to concerts, but I've updated my wardrobe to black leather pants! I listen to a lot of Eminem- mainly because my brother would play 'Recovery' alllll the time when it came out in 2010. Songs like "Mockingbird" and "Lose Yourself" are just so good with quality lyrics. Although, some of his songs are really gruesome and scare the shit out of me!

I loved Lose Yourself growing up, was right into it. But then my Dad started vibing on it heavily and decided to make a video to it. Now somewhere, I’m hoping in the deepest most unreachable bowls of the internet, there exists a 6-minute video of me racing the track cut to that song. Its brutal to watch. Anyway. Your uncle can legitimately lay claim to being the “cool uncle”. It’s also crazy young to be going to gigs, was that pretty eye opening as a young kid going to what are essentially adult shows?

SKY: For sure, we grew up going to gigs when smoking inside of bars and venues was still legal, as well as hanging out backstage where the "rockstars" were doing their pre/post show rituals. It was a bit eye opening then, even though I wasn't always aware of what was really going down. I think it was better to be raised exposed to that scene and seeing the effects of it instead of growing up too sheltered.

What is the first song you remember liking?

SKY: "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira.

Did you play a music instrument as a kid?

SKY: Nope.

If you could go back and learn a musical instrument, which would it be and why?

SKY: Probably the drums. I could imagine rocking out on them.

How have your musical tastes changed and developed over the years since you were a kid? Did you ever get into any scene’s or the like?

SKY: No doubt my taste in music has changed.. I've come a long way from my Hannah Montana days hah! I've learned to like all different genres, including older music from when my parents were young, like The Doors. If the lyrics are good and the musician/band is talented then I'll give it a chance.

Hannah Montana hey? Which was your favourite Hannah Montana song? What about The Doors?

SKY: Yeah, that's pretty embarrassing, hey? "We Got the Party" was a jam. I think Jim Morrison would be ashamed to be mentioned in the same sentence as Hannah Montana. I really like "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" by The Doors.  

What was the first album you bought with your own money?

SKY: "Oral Fixation" by Shakira. Every summer my family hosts cyclists from around the World and when I was really young the Colombian men's National Team stayed at my house. "Hips Don't Lie" was on replay all summer.

What was the first gig / concert you remember going to?

SKY: The Lovelies - as they were one of the bands my uncle managed.

Right, with the white leather boots, unforgettable. What's the best gig / concert you've been to?

SKY: This is a terribly hard question because I've been to sooo many amazing concerts!!! If I had to pick just one I would say Houndmouth- they did a triple encore- and even that didn't seem like enough. I always appreciate an artist or band when they can perform live and display their raw talent- versus what you hear when everything has been perfected on a CD. If you've never listened to Houndmouth- have a listen to "Darlin'" & "Say It".

Who’s musical taste do you really admire?

SKY: I have an Australian teammate- Josie. She's pretty cool so when her playlist is on it makes me feel cool too, ha! Sam, Josie, & I planned to see some concerts around our race schedule last year, we saw Lewis Del Mar, Borns, Kesha and The Head & the Heart. "Wave(s)" by Lewis Del Mar, "10,000 Emerald Pools" by Borns, & "Let's Be Still" by The Head & the Heart are some of my favorite songs.

What’s your favourite type of venue to see a show? Do you get rowdy and right up the front or prefer some space?

SKY: I prefer the smaller & more intimate venues, where no matter where you are you can see the stage & really hear the music. Usually I like my space and don't love having strangers dancing on me, ha.

Is there anyone  you’ve been on the road with who has had just brutal taste in music and you’ve been forced to suffer through it?

SKY: Yeah one of my Mexican teammates, she would play this terrible music in English that she doesn't understand the lyrics of or the same 3 reggaeton songs all day long…

I got into French rap a while back, don’t speak a word of French and have just realised I was this guy for some poor French person.

SKY: Ha! Sorry about that.

Did you ever make playlists when you were younger as ‘psych up’ material for competition? Do you remember any tracks from those?  

SKY: I  really only learned how to make a playlist last year..

You never burnt CD’s from Limewire? Man, thats a right of passage. What about now then, are you a big playlist person, or do you prefer to listen to a single Album or artist through?

SKY: I've never even heard of Limewire! Mostly I listen to playlists now via Spotify, however Sam recently gifted me an old record player and I do love listening to records from start to finish on that.

What? Limewire was the shit for illegal downloads in high school. What song would you listen to put you in the right place for a race?

SKY: "Till I Collapse" by Eminem

What about when you’re training?

SKY: A little bit of everything... I played a lot of "River" by Bishop Briggs, "Take It or Leave It" Cage the Elephant, "Foundations" Kate Nash, and "All the Pretty Girls" by Kaleo this year.

What is the atmosphere usually like amongst the team pre-race? Is everybody doing their own thing listening to their own stuff or is there a more communal atmosphere?

SKY: I've taken the reigns of team DJ, so pre-race I plug the AUX chord in and get the party going, typically means we're all singing real loud embarrassing ourselves... at least I am.

We’ll have to get you to do a Disc Breaks ‘pre race’ mix.

SKY: For sure

What about post stage?

SKY: Post stage we're usually keen for some more relaxed music- "These Girls" by Sticky Fingers, "Freak" Lana del Rey, "I Want You" Marian Hill, "Hope" by Tim Legend ft. Brave etc... If we're heading home after the race Sam & I always play, "This Must Be the Place" by The Lumineers especially when we've been on the road for a long time & feeling a bit homesick.

Have you ever had a ‘victory’ song or a track you associate with any performance, good or bad?

SKY: "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars from night two of Tulsa Tough, I won solo after having some upsetting races leading up to it. The whole team was on a high and I remember playing this song before & after the race. it's a fun one to sing & dance to!

Have you ever worn your ipod during a race?

SKY: I wish! But no.

What song do you play to get things started when you’re throwing a party?

SKY: "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance or maybe "Everlasting Light" by The Black Keys. Wouldn't want to start things off too crazy!!

Does musical taste influence how well you’re going to get along with someone?

SKY: If I'm going to be spending a lot of time with them, then yes. I'm almost always playing music - whilst cooking, studying, etc.. and if they can't stand my music then we'd have some problems! Plus, I think the type of music someone gravitates towards can say a lot about them.

What’s a song that if someone played would instantly make you friends?

SKY: "River" by Leon Bridges- this is the only song I know by this artist but it's so beautiful & always makes me pause when it comes on.

And inversely song that would instantly turn you off someone?

SKY: "Wagon Wheel".. I cringe when I hear it so Sam will play it just to piss me off.. one time she put it on before a really long road race and it was stuck in my head the whole. damn. time. she thought it was hilarious.

Have you ever played a song or pretended to know a song to impress someone?

SKY: Hahaha! For sure!

Interesting, which song and who were you impressing? Actually, most importantly, did it work?

SKY: It worked, haha.

A song you’re embarrassed to admit you like, but listen to often?

SKY: "Blunt Blowin" by Lil Wayne

‘A milli’ is more my scene.

SKY: I like it.

One day you’re gonna have to put together a highlights reel of your career. How does it play out and which songs are you going to score it with?

SKY: Hmmm this is so tough - I really don't know what songs I would choose.

How would it play out?

SKY: It would likely start out with clips of my BMX days when I was really young. Then I imagine there would be clips from notable races in my career, podium flowers & champagne, and silly clips from traveling etc. to give a more accurate visual of my life. I'd finish it by hanging my bike up and walking away, maybe walking towards Law School or whatever comes next for me.

What’s the best way to listen to music?

SKY: Turned up, loud

If you were colonising Mars and could only take one album, what would it be?

SKY: 'The Lumineers' by The Lumineers.

Nice one, a good list here and specific. Well done. 

Angus Morton