#mechanicmonday honors Kelly Valyou
We are back with our first February installment of Mechanic Monday, and this week we are excited to feature Kelly Valyou of Austin, Texas!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with PBMA’s Mechanic Monday series, this is where we feature one mechanic each week, who is chosen randomly from the pool of nominations that we receive. Mechanic Monday is all about mechanics supporting fellow mechanics, and we are proud to partner with Abbey Bike Tools, Cycling Industry News, and People for Bikes to share these great features with you.
Kelly Valyou is a self-described “pro mechanic by day and mountain biker at heart.” She was actually nominated for our 2016-2017 Mechanic of the Week series, but her schedule was so busy last year (more on that later!) that we only recently had time to catch up with her. Here is some of what she had to say, in her own words, about her experiences in the cycling industry so far.
PBMA: How did you become involved in cycling and/or cycling mechanics?
KV: I became a normal visitor at my local bike shop in upstate NY, where I purchased my first “real” bike with all of my savings. Over some time, one of the employees at the shop suggested that I apply to the shop because I was there all the time. That was the beginning of my career in the cycling industry. I went from sales, to management over the years. While working for a shop in AZ, I wanted a change. I figured I should move into the next level within our industry and an area that I had a high level of interest-to learn the mechanics of a bike. As it turns out, I became very good at it. I look at problem solving, in all aspects, differently since I’ve become a mechanic.
PBMA: What motivates you to excel as one of the few women mechanics in our industry?
KV: The thought of me making a difference in a male-dominated industry keeps me motivated. To hopefully make a change in the way things “have been done” keeps me moving forward. To allow women to be treated as equals in our little world of cycling with coworkers, customers, and beyond. To just keep fighting this exhausting fight for women, is what keeps me here.
PBMA: Do you have a favorite moment or story from your time in the cycling industry?
KV: I would have to say so far my favorite moment/experience has been working with the DROPS women's pro team at the Tour of California 2017, as a guest mechanic via Trek Bikes. The team members that I had the opportunity to work with were just that, a solid team. They were an absolute pleasure to work for/with and so enthusiastic! [It’s been] a definite highlight of my career so far.
PBMA: What advice would you give to girls or women who aspire to be professional bicycle mechanics?
KV: This is a tough question for me. In many ways, I would discourage them. It’s a tough position to be in. To be questioned, constantly, on your ability to do your job. To be questioned and to have to prove yourself to your coworkers and to your clientele is exhausting. In other words, I would love to see more women as mechanics. Women have this ability to not be ego driven, to have an incredible attention to detail, and a way of explaining/educating information to others, along with a level of compassion and an ability to make the work environment fun and inviting.
PBMA: Do you have a favorite tool?
KV: My favorite tool is, and I think it will forever be, the Abbey HAG! The precision this tool has is unbelievable! The HAG was a present from a good friend. The best present one could ever get as a mechanic.
That’s all for this week! Thank you for following along with our series and sharing our support for our fellow mechanics. We’ll be back next week with a new feature. In the meantime, click here to learn more about our 2018 Mechanic Monday series, and here to learn more about how to nominate your favorite mechanic!
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