What is the USA Cycling Race Mechanics Clinic all about?
Hear from insiders, promoters, team and race directors and past attendees who found success through the experience and reward in life from the outcome. Ready to learn more about what happens and register? Click here
Colin "Chip" Howat - class of 1991
Clinic Director / Tubular Tire Expert / Bike Rider
The Race Mechanics Clinic was one of the most rewarding educational opportunities for me because attending the Clinic opened doors to work with fantastic mechanics and athletes at races and workshops at home and overseas leading on to so many more professional and cultural experiences."
Michael Kubancsek - class of 2015
Director of Cycling Operations - Marian University
"I consider myself super fortunate to have attended the USAC Woodul Clinic. While I had some previous race experience, the clinic helped me really understand what it means to be a race mechanic and the intricacies and details of supporting athletes(both team and neutral). The connections made at the clinic also widened my scope in the industry and led me to some new opportunities and relationships I learned things I didn't even know that I would need to know, but I am far better at what I do because of it. The content of the clinic takes you beyond adjusting derailleurs and inflating tires and shapes you into a prepared and safe staff member for any team or riders you may ever work for. There is no in-depth, complete training for race mechanics like what the Woodul Clinic offers... there is no substitute!"
Ed Beamon - veteran team director
Team Director - Team Tibco-SVB
"As a team director being able to count on my mechanic is critical. Mechanics who've come through the USA Cycling program have been given the preparation, honed the skills and have had practical exposure to the environment that is so critical to perform in a team culture."
William McPherson - class of 1996
Lead Technician - Shimano Multi-Service
"At Shimano Multi-Service we only use licensed race mechanics. Knowing that someone has had the training and understands the process of race support is important to us and the riders we support."
Craig "Calvin" Jones - clinic instructor since day-1
Education, Training, Development - Park Tool
"It has been both a pleasure and honor to teach at these Race Mechanic Clinics. I've been an instructor since the beginning, it's ironic, I have never attended as a mechanic... I want to! This clinic is at the heart of the professionalism and passion for this kind of work. Seeing mechanics from a wide range of backgrounds and regions ask us questions, argue their points, network with one another, and gain confidence to do this, give me the knowledge that our racing athletes will have the service they need to achieve greatness. After all, this is what we are here for."
Deborah Xu - class of 2012
Owner - Tender Loving Cycle
"The clinic was jam packed. We all came out each day exhausted from learning a lot. The final exam took some problem solving skills. It was like going to a boot camp, whatever experience level you are at, you will come out leveled up with something new and useful, not to mention you would meet a lot of people, especially the instructors, who are all so willing to help you advance in your career.
I came out of the boot camp and immediately obtained the opportunity to go work at the Sea Otter Classic. I was able to join Shimano's Neutual Service program as well. Theses opportunities took me to a lot of national level races, and, at each race, you just keep on learning so much more about what it is to be a race mechanic. Going to races also helps keeping your knowledge of current technologies updated, which helps working in a shop tremendously.
It also felt like a confidence boost, not only to myself, but also to my employers. I went back to work knowing so much more. And my boss then sent me to a bike fit school and gave me more responsibilities. Everything I learned along the way, got me where I am."
Brandon Hale - Race Director
Race Director - North Star Grand Prix
"We know that the safety of the riders depends on having the most qualified mechanics working in the caravan. USA Cycling's training helps to ensure riders receive the highest quality service in the fastest manner possible without sacrificing safety. The mechanics are an important component of providing riders an exceptional experience at our race."
Gal Alon - class of 2015
Service Associate - Penn Cycle
"The best experience I recall from 2015 os the people I met and got to know, instructors and students alike. These are the people that are shaping the industry now and in the future. Many of them are the people who started the PBMA! People that share the deep passion to become a bike mechanic in a shop or in supporting races and events are what the Race Mechanics Clinic is all about. Being part of the Race Mechanic group is something special that unites us as individuals to help and support each other. I am proud to be part of that group."
Chris Kreidl - class of 2005 or 2006
Sales & Operations Manager - Unior USA
"When I got there I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to start working at races. I was excited to be at the Olympic Training Center and excited to be around all these people, the instructors, that for a long time have done some version of exactly what I wanted to do.
Attending and getting my license opened the door to begin working with SRAM NRS, and my hard work with them led to the rest of my career turing out the way it did. Without having attending and getting that license I don't think they'd have taken me on in the first place"
Julian DaSilva - class of 2013
South Florida Territory Manager - Orbea, Santa Cruz Bicycle, Atomik Carbon, Ride 100%
"My experience at the Race Mechanics Clinic was that opening ones mind, I was set on my own way of thought and once I did the class and learned from some of the best in the industry, I changed my perception of the industry. One of the things that the clinic helped me do was build a network of likeminded people that I could tap into, learn from one another and bounce around ideas. Because of these ideas I was able to work along side industry people and network with them, eventually leading to a career at a higher level within the industry. Being a race mechanic has led me to starting my own Neutral Support Business in the state of Florida which is desperately needed. The clinic brought me to a higher level."
Doug Martin - friend of Bill
Cycling Industry Professional
"My work with Bill predates the Race Mechanics Clinic - we came out of the same shop together in Coconut Grove, Florida... Dade Cycle Shop. Bill was already the stuff of local lore and was doing a lot of National Team trips to South America, Europe, etc. Each time he came back we'd huddle around eager to hear of some new tech tip or trick. A better way to tie and solder wheels, linseed oil as spoke prep, a bulletproof tubular tire glue combo... you name it. Each trip and experience benefited us all. From there Bill went on to build and run the Campagnolo Neutral Support program, then onto USA Cycling (then USCF). He was an early pioneer and true champion of the bicycle mechanic as a legitimate profession, and the Race Mechanics Clinic sought to build on this. They were successful from the start and have gotten only better over time. There is no doubt that the curriculum, shared information and overall networking are highly beneficial to not just the race mechanics, but shop and industry members alike."
Zane Freebairn - class of 2014
Team Mechanic - Rally Pro Cycling
"There was some really cool tips and tricks learned from the instructors but the best thing that I came out with was the connections. I see guys and gals at races that were in the clinic in 2015 and have leaned on them for help. A great example is Gary Bavolar; he has helped out a few times while working for Shimano and SRAM. Already having a relationship with these mechanics made the race situations go smoother."
James Stanfill - class of 2000
President of the PBMA, Race Mechanic Clinic Organizer
"I attended the clinic in 2000... since then I haven't looked back. The opportunities created from the network of people in attendance is insane. Since 2000 I've worked for men's and women's World Tour Teams, worked with Olympic Champions, National Champions, World Champions and met many great friends out on the road. The skills gained at the clinic allowed me working as a mechanic to visit more than twenty countries. I come back every year to make sure that others have the same opportunities as those in the past. Now through the PBMA we are working to expand the level of learning to reach more mechanics and further build that network of people we can each rely on."
Tristan Brandt - class of 2015
Demo Coordinator - Pivot Cycles
"It was an amazing networking opportunity that has allowed me to further my career in the industry and I am now proud to working for Pivot Cycles. I think the clinic really helped us grasp the scope of what being a race mechanic really entails (late nights, early mornings, long days), through the experience of current techs and those who have been in the field for decades. I think the clinic can teach you a few new skills, but more importantly, give you opportunities to branch out to other fields in the industry besides wrenching at a shop."
"the industry has needed this for a long time"
The above is something we hear this daily... likely a few times a day depending on where we are. People want to say thank you and shake our hands and chat about the challenges of the cycling industry. Those things are amazing and we feel great about them. They however don't pay the bills and don't allow the PBMA to grow to it's fullest potential.
Organizationally the PBMA isn't difficult to work with and we don't make insane demands on our partners. We like to be as inclusive as possible keeping our member needs in mind. We like to deliver for our partners with exposure and reach into a community of people interested in mechanical things.
We've established a basic structure of membership: individuals, shops, and corporations. Within each level there are options with specific deliverables and specific benefits. More often than not when asking a corporation for $500 to become a member they reply matter of factly that they can't afford it. If this is true then our industry is in MAJOR trouble. It seems to us a small ask and one that carries tremendous weight when looking at the future and sustainability for the PBMA.
As an organization we are focused on mechanics and service. Imagine your company without one of those two things and what does your bottom line look like then?
Organizationally we are looking to grow certification and applying resources towards training and the elevation of what most outside our culture consider a hobby, we look to the industry to help us build these programs and provide stable financial support. We can't simply rely on mechanics (often earning the least) to carry the burden here.
Is membership worth it? Our feeling is that at all levels we are showing immediate value for your dollars. As we grow our voice grows. We are calling on all those companies building their budgets and looking at where growth in the industry is going to occur. We are calling on all those companies who couldn't spare a few hundred dollars in 2017. We are calling on EVERYONE who has said: "This is a great idea, the industry has needed this for a long time".
Now is the time to step up and show your support.
Service is the future. PBMA is a major piece of the puzzle, we can't do it without you and we don't want to do it without you. Cycling is a community and we all need to participate for future success.
After a successful first year, the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association has revamped its Mechanic of the Week program. Mechanic Monday (#mechanicmonday) will feature a randomly chosen nominated mechanic each Monday with public voting on a Mechanic of the Year taking place over 14 days in January of 2019.
Abbey Bike Tools is returning to sponsor the competition. In addition to the grand prize package, Abbey Bike Tools will be supplying each week’s mechanic a co-branded custom Abbey Stu Stick. Jason Quade, the founder of Abbey Bike Tools, said, "We are focused on building professional quality tools for mechanics across the globe. The PBMA is raising the bar for those technicians and we whole heartedly support that cause."
The PBMA has also bolstered the program with media outlet CyclingIndustry.News and PeopleforBikes helping to identify and promote the value of the Professional Bicycle Mechanic©.
The winner of the Mechanic Monday competition in 2018 will receive an all expense paid trip to the 2019 North American Handmade Bicycle Show plus an exclusive prize package from Abbey Bike Tools and a year’s subscription the print edition of CyclingIndustry.News.
“Bike mechanics are among the most influential people involved in helping riders, and future riders, make great decisions about what they need, as well as providing perspective on what the rider thinks they want. PeopleForBikes applauds the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association for creating a program to celebrate and promote the best of the best among the industry’s awesome community of bicycle mechanics,” said Charlie Cooper, Vice President of Membership and Development of PeopleforBikes.
“CyclingIndustry.News has been keen to bring to the industry discussion table the voice of the mechanic and so partnering with this great initiative to further highlight the great work of those on the frontline of the bike industry is a natural fit. We look forward to generating inspiring content alongside the PBMA, Abbey Bike Tools and PeopleForBikes to amplify the voice of those working tirelessly to raise the standards in our trade and keep our customers rolling,” said Mark Sutton, Editor at CyclingIndustry.News.
James Stanfill, President of the PBMA, said “Last year’s Mechanic of the Week program generated a ton of interest throughout 2017, culminating in an amazing number of people taking part in the pre-Interbike voting period for the coveted Mechanic of the Year. Winner Josh Boggs received 587 of the 4500+ votes and it wasn’t a runaway competition! Utilizing social media to spread the word about voting we reached around 40,000 people in a very short period of time. We’re hoping with Abbey Bike Tools, CyclingIndustry.News and PeopleforBikes we can further that awareness for mechanics everywhere.”
To nominate your favorite mechanic head to Mechanic Monday.
PeopleforBikes gets more people riding bikes more often and makes bicycling better for everyone across the U.S., for more information please visit their website www.PeopleforBikes.org
The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association is dedicated to the Promotion, Advocacy and Development of the Professional Bicycle Mechanic©, for more information please visit www.ProBMA.org
More information about Abbey Bike Tools can be found at www.AbbeyBikeTools.com
Keep track of all the latest news by visiting www.CyclingIndustry.News today!
My days presently are split up three ways really. The PBMA is a huge priority so I spend a great deal of time fielding phone calls, firing off emails, building the website and working towards driving the organization into the future. Just to top all that off you can find me working at races throughout the year as a team mechanic or driving and jumping out of cars providing neutral service.
I got into cycling when I was 15. I haven't really looked back since then. I've raced competitively on and off-road. I've been in and out of shops since 1991. I've spent time working for Cannondale, USA Cycling and Specialized. I've done contract work for SRAM, Mavic and others. I've spent plenty of time on the road working for teams like Liquigas, Twenty16, Elita Pro, Webcor, Drapac the US and Canadian National teams as well as world neutral support at more races than I can actually remember. I spent about 6 years working outside the cycling industry with a fortune 500 company, I gained and entire new set of skills outside our industry.
The PBMA began as a conversation between myself and a handful of others, some of whom are on the Board of Directors and some who were simply interested in professionalizing our craft. Having been in the trenches (of all varieties) for many years I feel very strongly about mechanics and service. I know there are challenges ahead and I am personally prepared to fight them on behalf of the PBMA. For service the future is very bright. We as technicians have the opportunity to help the future of the cycling industry by bolstering our personal skills tool box.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of goals. We had intended to post some type of regular blog focused about life on the road. The problem is when you're on the road there isn't much time to peck out something meaningful and interesting. We resort to Twitter and Instagram for those quick flashes of what's going on.
I read the PBMA Facebook page and comment here and there. I check in on the Forum and see it's not as well used as intended. We built it because people asked for it. Some of those people don't even use it!
We put out a newsletter that has a lot of information about what's going on with the PBMA as well as some things that could help to bolster your business. It's discouraging to read that someone thinks we are doing all these top secret things... Some things are meant to be kept secret due to the sensitive nature of their development. Other things are openly discussed in the newsletters which you can go back and read if you've deleted those emails or marked them as spam.
What's been going on is about 50,000 miles of air travel in the first 6 months of the year (and thats only accounting for my travel). A mixture of meetings with important partners, working on valuable relationships for the PBMA and mechanics. Top that off with my desire to be able to feed and house myself I've worked a handful of races with a few more yet to come!
If you're on the fence about Interbike, I'd encourage you to come. Maybe it'll be the last time ever that you go to Vegas, maybe you've never been... what I know is that the PBMA has a lot to talk about including certification, training and education.
We've put a lot of time and effort into bringing a bunch of manufacturers together in three different parts of the country (again something that many asked for). We have spent countless hours working with partners to develop a logical certification system that accounts for prior knowledge. We've spent way too much time in an aluminum tube flying all over!
If you're wondering what the PBMA is doing, ask. Posting it on Facebook is a way to ask but probably won't get you an answer with any official element attached to it. There are almost 9,000 people in that group all with an opinion and idea. Our role is to look at the averages and strive to find something of value within that can suit and help all. Email us, find us at Interbike, or pop a letter in the mail. Facebook is convenient, I won't argue, if you're seeking a direct answer from the PBMA it's the worst. Email us or find us in person at the next event you'll attend.
The PBMA isn't hiding or conducing business in secret. We published our 2016 P&L which nobody else does. We have attended almost every cycling industry event that has occurred so far this year. If you follow our social media or Facebook business page it would be very easy for you to see, understand and know whom we spoke to and where we wend. We are here to be seen and talk with you. All 9 Board Members are here working hard on your behalf for a brighter, better and more profitable future.
We will see you next week at Interbike!
Well this is my my story.
I have a new roll in the industry!
I just recently stepped down from the service manager position at Turin to accept the position of head mechanic with US Paracycling. I will continue to work at Turin when I'm in town and available, primarily to take care of 20 years worth of regular customers who come in specifically to see me.
My main focus will be the national team, and development work with new athletes. I'll be on the road a bit (a lot), working at training camps, world cup races, and world championships. Standard race team mechanic stuff.
I got into cycling young, riding bmx until I was about 12, then discovering road riding and racing through some friends in the neighborhood. I raced road bikes as a junior and a cat 3 until college, when the college lifestyle got in the way. I started at the bike shop when I was 15 to support my cycling habit, and slowly realized that I was a better mechanic than racer.
I'm a part of the PBMA because I believe that it's time for bike mechanics to be considered true professionals, and because after 20-odd years of hiring bike mechanics I really want a way to filter out the bad and highlight those who are committed to the profession and are up to date with their knowledge and skills.
My vision of the industry's future is very much like the automobile industry, where large dealerships dominate the sales side of things with high volumes and low margins, and smaller shops are only successful if they excel at providing quality service.
Come say hi to Steve at the PBMA booth 3271 at Interbike this year.
The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association is pleased to announce three regional workshops designed to bolster individual mechanics’ skills while growing their business acumen. The Denver, Portland, and Washington D.C. areas will each host a three-day workshop starting in November of this year and continuing through February 2018.
Each of the three PBMA Workshops will feature hands-on technical training from Campagnolo, DT Swiss, Full Speed Ahead, Magura, SRAM, SR Suntour and Stan’s No Tubes. The PBMA is also collaborating with several e-Bike technology companies to offer a broad overview of e-Bike mechanical training at each Workshop.
In addition to technical training, each workshop will also feature two presentations focusing on service-related growth, profitability, and efficiency. Park Tool Company, and Winged-Wheel Development will conduct these presentations.
“One of the goals with training needed to be beyond the basics of nuts and bolts. Service is an upward trend of profitability for many retail locations. The more we as a cycling community can do to bolster our service staff, the better off we will all be in the future” said PBMA President James Stanfill.
In addition, PeopleForBikes’ DRAFT Meetups will be coming to PMBA workshops beginning in 2017. Focused on stimulating innovation and growth the in the bike industry, DRAFT: PBMA will feature talks and announcements on the latest, cutting-edge ideas from the association, in addition to great beer and food.
Thanks to the generous support of additional workshop sponsors Park Tool Company, Abbey Bike Tools, BiciSupport, Feedback Sports, Pedros and Presta Cycle, the PBMA is able to offer four scholarships for each workshop with a focus on gender diversity, which will cover the recipients’ attendance and meals.
Costs to attend the workshops are in favor of PBMA members. Individual Mechanic Members save $100 off the cost of registration, and Shop Members save $125 per person when registering two or more participants. Registration is open to PBMA Mechanic and Shop Members only until July 1st.
Locations and Dates of PBMA Technical Workshops:
Denver, Colorado – November 7 to 9, 2017
Portland, Oregon – January 9 to 11, 2018
Ashburn, Virginia – February 6 to 8, 2018
Ric Hjertberg is a founding member of the PBMA and a current Board Member.
On what he does now:
After trying most categories of bicycle industry work, I’m back near where I began: a small, independent company focused on wheel building. All is summarized by my web site, wheelfanatyk.com. I live in a dream location, discuss my favorite subject with enthusiastic builders, and sell cool tools from companies as small as mine. Every year I’ve spent in the industry contributes to the satisfaction I enjoy these days. It doesn’t get better.
On why he loves bicycles:
A childhood in suburban California combined with an independent streak, met times of social change and environmentalism. No other work lets me live as fully, a scene of enlightened, generous folk who aim to have fun while changing the world. The longer I live, the more I learn this is very rare. For me, there’s no where else.
Why he's part of the PBMA:
From year one it was obvious mechanics have a huge, under appreciated role. We need to collaborate and advance this profession. The surprise is how long it’s taken, the good news how fast it is advancing.
On the future of bicycles:
2 wheel vehicles with minimal, or exclusively human, power are one of our greatest opportunities. The possibilities are unlimited. We seem evolved to utilize and enjoy this mobility. It’s here to stay but our landscape, technology, and customer is changing incredibly fast. The one constant, besides Newtonian physics, is the role of mechanics. On this we can depend!
In the world of cycling, I’m a race mechanic with Mavic SSC, SRAM NRS, and Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com. I’m also a mentor with Network for Advancing Athletes, which is a nonprofit organization that mentors and empowers women through sport. As a race mechanic, I work for Neutral Support at events all over the country. As a NAA mentor, I help plan and facilitate women’s clinics in coordination with major industry events like the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride in California.
Outside of cycling, the long-story-short version is: I’m a huge nerd.
Santa Claus brought me my first two-wheeler when I was about four years old, and I’ve been riding ever since. I graduated from Huffys to road bikes sometime around my freshman year of high school, and started working in a shop when I was 15. Somewhere along the line, someone told me “no, girls don’t do that” and I’ve been proving them wrong ever since.
In the ten(ish) years that I’ve been a race mechanic, I’ve been really fortunate to work with some of the most talented and least judgmental people in our industry. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. It’s important to me to do whatever I can to give back to this community that has given me so much, especially to do whatever I can to make cycling and cycling mechanics more accessible to women.
I’d like to see our industry overall be more encouraging of diversity. It seems pretty inclusive right now, but that’s after being in it for more than a decade; to a newbie, I think it’s still pretty intimidating and the barriers to entry are still really high. There’s a lot of awesome grass-roots stuff happening right now to get more people involved in cycling, but it’s going to take a lot of organizations (like PBMA) and industry leaders working together with each other and with the people on the front lines (athletes, mechanics, etc.) to really affect change for the entire industry.
Here at the PBMA, we wanted to spend a little time with some open discussion and thoughtful ways to focus on the women we have in our industry, and see some of the whys and hows of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going… together, as a group of mechanics. So this week we are going to be featuring women and others in the industry, to better understand the diversity that makes our group of talented technicians unique, and further our profession for all.
When one walks into a bike shop, rarely do we see a female behind the service counter with dark grease staining her fingers and wrench in hand. This has indeed been the norm for decades, but we're seeing some changes happening, and honestly… we should all be grateful.
Women mechanics are beginning to take their places along side the men in shops all over the country, but it has been a long process, and the reasons are myriad as to why the service departments have been dominated by men for so long. It is of special interest to me, personally, as I am a boob-havin', vagina-totin' human being who happens to be very good with technical stuff despite the tradition that these features of my anatomy are not normally associated with such technical aptitude in many minds. Why is that? Anatomy shouldn't necessarily have anything to do with it, right? Well, right! It doesn't. Aptitude in bicycle mechanics is not gender influenced, but it most certainly can be perceived as such, as is evidenced by the women and agender folks we've heard from. I asked a few questions of some women working on the mechanic side of things in our industry, and the responses were very interesting, and not entirely unfamiliar. What follows here are some insights that may help us all understand the bias that some of us face, and be aware and sensitive to it.
I asked how long they had been working on bikes, how they learned, whether there were or continue to be other women in the circles of influence around them, if there were negative reactions or experiences and how they were dealt with, and if they expect to stay in the industry. Here's what I learned…
Of course there is plenty of variation in how long these women had been working on bikes, ranging from relatively new mechanics to over 20 years. The common thread seemed to be simply an interest, some from a very early age in life, some more recent, but these are people who love to ride bikes and once the interest took hold, it manifested into a desire to tinker and eventually get more serious with it as a professional. It shows that it's about passion!
As for how folks learned, some learned from their male partner, as I myself did… any mentor we had who was able to break away the intimidation and fear of doing something wrong is an incredible ally in our growth. It is often that initial hindrance that pushes women away, or anyone, really… we all fear failure and none of us wants to break things or mess them up. So whenever we, as mechanics, have an opportunity to lend a helping hand to a cyclist who wants to understand the technical aspects of a bicycle, we should take it, and not be a barrier to learning for anyone. I've worked with many mechanics who tended to hoard knowledge, unwilling to share it. There is a certain psychology there, which I think is very important to dissect, and it comes (as all bad human behavior does) from fear. When a mechanic is skilled and fears competition from other mechanics, they will keep tidbits of information to themselves to wield as ammunition for the moments when they can swoop into a situation and bear that knowledge like a social sword; "step aside… I know how to do this". This is done so that the importance, the place, the status of said mechanic is not questioned, and job security prevails. However, it is damaging to the social fabric of the service department, as it places stress not only on those who lack the knowledge with possible feelings of inferiority, but also places undue stresses on that almighty-important mechanic who may then feel overloaded with pressure to be the guru. Wouldn't it be better to have all people in the department feel valued and share the knowledge so that problems get tackled by all? Of course there will be those who have less and those who have more knowledge, but the knowledge itself is what should be the shared commodity when at all possible. Then the fear is reduced for all, and bad behavior is reduced for all.
Some of us were very lucky to have women mechanics in our lives as examples of the possibility. I had worked on bikes since I was a kiddo, but had never thought of the possibility of it as a profession until I met my first female mechanic. She worked at the shop I bought my first bike-shop bike at, after having just blown into town coming off a cross-country ride and decided to settle in for a spell. She became the head instructor at Barnett Bicycle Institute eventually, and continued to inspire me for years. If it wasn't for her, who knows what I would be doing, to be perfectly honest. Sometimes it's that one person who however subtly comes along and changes the wind in our sails just enough to veer us into a whole different direction… sometimes it takes a while to understand, and sometimes it is immediate. The point is, you never know how you might influence someone, so why not make it as positive as it can be when we come across these opportunities to share?
We have all had some horror stories or just plain unpleasant experiences as women behind the service counter or even when answering the phone. This is an all-too common thread among the women I interviewed, but for many it was from the customers, and not the fellow mechanics, where the negativity was felt. Often when I answered the phone with "hello, Jenny in service here", I'd get "yeah, can I talk to a mechanic?"… and I wonder, what part of me being in service not let you know I am a mechanic? And in as non-snarky a voice as possible, "yes, I am a mechanic, in the service department… what can I do for you?" "oh. okay, uh, sorry!" And usually the customer self-checks and proceeds on with their query and all is well. Or standing in the service department as a woman and having the customer (male and female!) look past the woman mechanic with a "yea, is there someone back there who can look at my bike"? But some women have found that despite their assertions of being knowledgeable, their work is questioned, they are treated differently, and all is not so well. It is these occasions where co-workers are often great to step in and offer that, in fact, she is the one who knows better and can help you… a few respondents were able to turn these occasions into some gratifying, team-building moments for the whole crew, as well as educational moments for the customer to realize that there are bright minds in more flavors than "man".
It seems that all these respondents were able to ride the waves of adversity with relative aplomb, and carry on with doing what they love… but we don't know how many have not, as they may be lost at sea or got out of the water altogether. But there are many men, too, who were not able to hack the stresses and pressure of being in the trenches at the bike shop. I've met many men over the years who didn't have much technical aptitude or natural mechanical ability, despite their desires to be good at it, and they are off doing things outside the bike industry. Bicycle mechanics, as we all know, is about detail orientation, patience, and problem solving, among many other factors. These qualities are not gendered, not by any means. There are not any particularly high amounts of strength required that cannot be overcome by leverage, and so any physical aspects of gender differences that might be argued are a completely, utterly moot point.
All of the folks interviewed said they want to stay in the industry. They are all passionate about what they do, and see their futures in it. It is a wonderful thing to see so many strong, able women in our industry, helping to shape it, grow it, and share themselves with others who want to be a part of it. May we continue to see many more, and hopefully the men will happily make room and encourage and support the women and non-men folks who want their rightful places in the shops all across the country, and world. We are all better for it.
The rest of this week we'll be looking at individual profiles from some ladies in out there in the world of bicycle mechanics. We're hoping you will find inspiration and understanding of the roles these women have and how the industry moves forward with these amazing women!
written by Jenny Kallista
This page is a collective of articles relavant to consumers, enthusiasts and the whole of the cycling industry in general.