Photo courtesy of John Ker of Mountain Bike Action
What more could a classical pianist, acclaimed author, biologist and national mountain bike champion want? To be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. In case you haven’t figured it out, we are talking about the legend herself, Marla Streb.
The nine-time NORBA national downhill winner, mother of two took a few minutes to chat with The Link about her induction, the lessons she’s learned as a rider and some of the wildest moments she’s lived through on her bike.
TL- How did you find out you were being inducted in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame?
MS - I was in Costa Rica and received an email from Sal Ruibal. It was exciting because I had been nominated before and didn’t get it.
TL- If you could relive one moment in your career which would it be?
MS – It would be my first downhill race at Big Bear. I was under-prepared, and didn’t know what I was doing. I just showed up in a pair of long johns and went for it.
TL - Which moment would you strike from your career?
MS - The moment I decided to hit a double jump in the slalom race at Mammoth Mountain in 1996, while riding my long-stemmed, Marin cross country bike with seat fully elevated.
TL – What is the craziest thing you have done on a bike?
MS – I rode my Cyclocross bike down the ski run on a Saturday afternoon, in the dead of Winter. I had no disk brakes and obviously Cyclocross tires aren’t made for that. I’m sure it looked pretty wild because I got arrested at the bottom of the mountain once I finished. No one had ever done that before and they didn’t know what to do.
TL - What makes you the strongest? Gives you the drive to suffer through pain?
MS – My drive is fueled by the need I feel to be the best in the world, at one thing (even if for a day). Suffering is easy; I endured 12 years of Catholic school.
TL – What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
MS - I love how ants organize their communities.
TL – What is your legacy?
MS - Being transparent and approachable. One should not fear getting naked for the whole world to see.
TL – What piece of advice do you have for young riders who want to become professional cyclists one day?
MS – The key is to set yourself a part. You have to create your own brand. You should ask yourself why a company would want to sponsor you or do business with you. Just about anyone can train and win races, your presence should be about more than just being a person that can win. There will always be new winners. But there can never be another you.
TL – What is the one thing you want to accomplish before you retire?
MS - Two things, I want to get Downhill Mountain Biking in the Olympics, and I want to compete. I’ll be the 60-year-old lady trying to qualify if it happens in my lifetime.