After taking a week off to celebrate all of the active and former military members of our cycling mechanics community, the PBMA is once again ready to feature another outstanding Mechanic of the Week. This week, we are excited to introduce you to the one and only Josh Boggs , of Greenville, South Carolina.
Josh has been working in the cycling industry for nearly twenty years, and he is currently the Sales Manager at Trek Store South Carolina. He’s also a tour/camp mechanic with Carmichael Training Systems, an experienced race mechanic, and (in all of his free time!) a U.S. Marine.
We hope you enjoy our conversation with Josh as much as we did!
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How did you become involved in cycling and/or cycling mechanics?
I started mountain biking in 1994, when my cousin and a few other friends decided to get into the sport. I bought a cheap mountain bike and started tinkering with the bikes a bit (because that's what curious teenagers do...), and begged the owner of my LBS for a job. He suggested I get a lawn care gig, because it would pay better. I didn't stop trying to get in. I got my first shop job in 2001. After that shop closed in 2003, I went back to the original shop and stepped into the store manager role for a few years. During that time, I did race support with the Clemson University Cycling Team and with the short-lived Cane Creek neutral race support program for some races in the Southeastern US. In 2005, I saved up to go to the Bill Woodul Race Mechanics' Clinic, and through a series of connections, I got my first gig with Mavic SSC at the 2005 Tour de Georgia (RIP). I finished out my work that year with the Jittery Joe's/Kalahari Pro Cycling Team. Fast forward to now... I'm not doing a lot of wrenching right now at the shop, but I do some contract work every now and again. Just finished up my third Tour of California camp with CTS, and I'll be in Knoxville with the Amy D. Foundation Team at Nationals in a few weeks.
What motivates you to excel as a professional mechanic?
I like to consider myself a hard worker. If I touch something, and it isn't done to perfection, I get upset at myself. I suppose that drive to excel is what motivates me. I'm the Sales Manager at an LBS now, so I don't get to work on bikes as much as I'd like to, but when I do I hold myself to the highest standards of workmanship and quality. I love getting back out to the races, more because of the familiar faces and the people I get to deal with on the road, but also to keep myself sharp. Early on, I found a few folks in the race mechanic community that I looked up to, and I tried my best to emulate their work ethic and aspire to get to that level. TJ Grove is one of those people that I look up to. He lived in the same area as me, and I would catch him at local races hanging out, from time to time. I hoped to someday get to his level. A few years ago, TJ called me up to pick up the SRAM NRS car and drive it to work the Charlotte race, and I thought, "I've finally made it!" The problem is, TJ won't slow down, so he unknowingly keeps pushing me to level up...
What was your most memorable moment or experience while working as a mechanic?
I've got a few really memorable moments, both race-related. The first was my first USPRO race in Philly, circa 2005. The whole experience was surreal; getting beer and burger hand-ups on Manayunk Wall, the crowds, tearing around town in our team's Mini Cooper. It was great. Our best finisher that day was Geoff Kabush, in like 22nd position or something. That wasn't the memorable part. I got back to where the team was staged after the race and told the team's soigneur that I did my first out-the-window repair! One of our riders got a plastic bag from a spectator caught in his rear derailleur, and I had to go out the window over his bike to fix it. The fun part was the physical feat of making that happen in the Mini Cooper. Ken Mills, our team director, had one foot on the clutch, one on the gas, one hand on the wheel, the other on my belt to keep me from falling out the window while I got the bag out of the drivetrain. The spectacle of he and I, the largest DS/Mechanic duo in the race, in that tiny Mini, was a sight to behold.
The second most memorable moment was also in Philly, back in 2013. After working the race many times with no major results from any of my riders, I landed a one-race gig with the Specialized/Lululemon women's team (Thanks, James!). It was such a crazy race. We had a crash on lap one, which two of our riders got tangled up in, then at the start/finish line at the top of Manayunk Wall, the race officials pulled us because our van was taller than the height allowed in the caravan. Luckily, Kristy Scrymgeour (DS) had a friend at the race who had a smaller car. Over the course of the next few minutes, we loaded all our gear from the van into the tiny sedan (something about tiny cars and Philly...), and continued on. We caught back up to the caravan over the course of the next lap. The girls blew themselves apart, worked so hard, and Evie Stevens launched on Manayunk Wall and got the win! It was the first time one of my bikes had won at Philly, and I was ecstatic!
You help us moderate a lot of Facebook discussions about “professionalism.” What have you taken away from these, and what do you think it means (or what do you think its impact will be) for the greater cycling industry?
I love the discussions about professionalism surrounding our chosen line of work. If we want our careers as professional bicycle mechanics to be taken seriously, we have to maintain a higher standard for ourselves. There are so many different styles/genres of cycling, it's hard to make a "cookie cutter" template that works for everyone's market. In the shop I work in (a Trek Concept Store), it's tucked in shirts, salespeople greeting you at the door (or in the parking lot, if we see you have a bike that needs attention), and a very customer-friendly environment. If we were a BMX-specific shop, you would probably lose all street cred if you were as well-kept and tucked in as we are. Professionalism can take on many different faces. The thing that ties them all together is consistency with customer service and quality of the work coming out of the shop. If we take a look at mechanics on the race circuit, it's the same. It's all about putting in the hard work, taking your work seriously, not cutting corners, and being religious about busting your butt and putting out the best work you can. I think, as a whole, what the PBMA is doing a fantastic job of raising the bar for mechanics and helping the cause. Better exposure of our profession and leveling everyone up to a new standard is awesome. I'm grateful for the work of the PBMA and look forward to helping promote the organization and our profession in any way possible.
And finally (because we always ask this), what is your favorite tool?
My favorite tool is my Abbey Bike Works Crombie/Whip-It combo. I got one a few years back and had my name/personal branding etched onto it. Those tools are an awesome addition to any toolbox. Got rid of a few heavier tools in my box, which helped a lot when it was time to fly.
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#MOTW is all about mechanics supporting fellow mechanics, and Josh is a perfect example of this in action. We encourage everyone reading this at home to follow Josh’s example, connect with and mentor up-and-coming mechanics, and join the conversation by nominating YOUR favorite mechanic today!
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