Your name, present position and place of employment
Patrick “Tree” Miller, Research and Development Technician for the High Performance Road Team for Specialized, Public Relations Event Mechanic for Specialized, President of MediaMechanic LLC
How did you get started in cycling and end up where you are today?
I have always been a commute cyclist since middle school, but then I got into skateboarding, and used that for transportation. One day, while skating to class at UCSB (university of California, Santa Barbara, Philosophy B.A.) my wheel fell off, and I crashed really hard in front of a frat hang out, and got made fun of as my calculator and books went flying all over the street. I went back to my house, and a roommate gave me a women’s beach cruiser they had stolen long ago. When I hopped on, I remembered how much I enjoyed riding. Shortly after I need to tune it up, so I went to Associated Student bikes and a man named Peter Albrecht (currently Marketing Director of VP components North America) took me under his wing. He showed me how to build, how to work, and how to be a good person.
After I received my degree the job market took a spiral downward. I used my emphasis on logic, my ability to read tech documents, and the knowledge passed along by Peter to get a job at Toy R us assembling bikes. I excelled, but the job held me back. I applied at a place called Mike’s Bikes, and one fateful day riding my tall bike from work, I met another mechanic on his tall bike who worked for them. Fran D’anna then took me under his wing and helped me excel in the high performance side of things. I soon became an expert, I read all the tech docs, memorized theory, and worked diligently on my interfacing with the clients. After some time at Mike’s I was contacted by a friend to run a small shop back in Santa Barbara, I gladly accepted, and had an amazing 2 years of my life working with my friends and community to develop a sense of belonging and enrichment to all round. Sadly, we went under, who knew bakfiets and dutch bikes were not the key to riches in the Santa Barbara area, but it filled my soul with happiness. Then I moved back to home,
Mike’s Bikes quickly picked me back up, and I was back on the high performance track. I volunteered at the local velodrome (Patrick is a volunteer at Hellyer Velodrome), became a supervisor, then board member, then treasurer. At this time one of the racers, John Rosie (Bosch eBike systems) was working for Specialized in the Village bike shop. After graduating from Bill Woodul Race Mechanic’s program, and over 2 years of interviews, containing 12 hours of interview time total, I was hired on as a mechanic for Village bike shop, the internal bike shop for Specialized employees, we controlled a bike library for employees to “check out bikes” we also tuned any employee’s bike for free, we managed company bike fleets, and I was put in charge of taking care of PR. I was able to demonstrate my attention to detail, and unwavering enthusiasm for these builds. I was put in charge of some of the most important clients of Specialized, and was able to travel with them for events. Then the R&D bike shop soon took notice, James Stanfill (President of PBMA) was then helping me cultivate my skill into a better-rounded mechanic.
I was soon working with pro teams. I stared to pick up speed, minimalism, and logistics that comes with professional racing. I was moved to acquiring new skills with wind tunnel work, research work, and prototyping. After James left, I filled the hole of the Road Technician, but with no one for management, the R&D bikes shop had to transform into a self-managed bike shop. For the past 2 years I have been here, working in a windowless room, that little have access to. Over the past 2 years I have developed more skills, I have learned carbon layup, machining, and process. My goals are to continue advancing, to see how much I can learn, and at some point turn around and teach.
Tell us what it is you do on a daily basis
I have no day to day. I am a bike mechanic, do not get that misinterpreted, I work on bikes all day, every day, but the aspect of that can differ vastly. I could be building a Felt for competitor analysis, or checking to see if the bike 4 year away will be compatible with modern componentry, or building bikes for Ellen DeGeneres. I am often consulted for ease of working situations, and input on form and function. I am often working with many of the personal bikes for our engineers, and our VIPs here at Specialized. I travel often for PR events, and I make sure I work a couple of races each year to keep my skills up, and see what gripes mechanics have.
What’s the coolest place you’ve been for work and why?
I have been many places, each one is a treat, flown out to Edmonton make sure our tri guy got his bike ready, week in Kona for Ironman, Driving from Barcelona to Valencia in a crafter staying in the COOLEST air bnbs I have ever seen. Recently I spent 2.5 weeks in Netherlands/Belgium riding the Flanders and Paris/Roubaix routes. But the coolest place, I think, was being a useful member of my community in Santa Barbara, when I would get my mailman’s bike together, or adjust the local kindergarten teacher’s work bike. When we had local rides that built community through cycling. Where I was recognized on the street, not as a good mechanic, but as a contributing member of the people directly around me to uplift our society.
What’s your goto snack or treat?
If I am working, in a follow car, or at an event, I go with wasabi soy sauce almonds in the tube bag. They are sustained energy, good salt, low contamination of your work area, and can be eaten without use of direct touch. Meaning no grease on your food, or food on your grease hand.
If I am in search of snack. Pastries.
Weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do for a job as a bicycle mechanic?
I am not allowed to talk about the absolutely f***ed up things I have been asked to do. I personally have made a tall bike with retro direct drive completely out of carbon. Recently I constructed a set of carbon beach cruiser bars out of 2 sets of mountain bars and one set of road bars. On the clock, I have been asked to purchase a kite, swimming trunks, and a Frisbee in hopes to entertain a group of women cyclist at the beach, which was weird.
What should the world know about you?
I am just a bicycle mechanic. And when I use the word ‘just’, I do not mean it in the way that is derogatory or simplifying. I mean it in the identity sense, I am not a ‘road’ mechanic, or a ‘race’ mechanic, I am not one brand’s mechanic, or type of mechanic. I will work on any bike, for any person, for any reason. I am here to help, to progress cycling culture, to progress society. I am here to raise the professionalism my colleagues by example, and committed to the recognition of my trade as a value to society. I am just a bike mechanic.
You can follow Tree's adventures on instagram @mediamechanic
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