//images by Iean Lean and Jamie Edwards
This week we received an email from a budding young mechanic asking “Do you have any voluntary race mechanic positions available?”.
The answer was “no, sorry” so we asked Team Mechanic Chaz Curry to offer some of his experience. Here’s his reply to the aspiring young gun.
“Thanks very much for your CV and your supporting e mail. Unfortunately at the moment we don’t have a vacant position within the team for a mechanic. In addition we would normally look for someone with more ‘on the ground’ experience than you currently have. Being a team mechanic can put you under a huge amount of pressure and require you to think on your feet and use what you have to hand to ‘get the job done’. Professional and Semi-pro teams will also not have the time to train someone, or be able to ‘take a punt’ on someone, no matter how promising they may look.
However, there are ways of easily gaining more experience in the field without having to be a part of a professional team set up, that will really help you in the future. Below are some easy ways you can gain the right sort of experience to make yourself and attractive proposition for any cycling team.
Large events such as Mountain Mayhem, Bontrager 24/12, Brighton Big Dog and similar really like to offer their participants ‘neutral’ support. It is far easier for someone in your position to get a place as a neutral support mechanic than it is to get a place on a team. It will also give you invaluable experience in precisely the right area.
By and large the neutral support for these events is supplied by a local shop, however, from past experience I know that this really stretches these shops in terms of manpower. So you have two routes. Either get in contact with the event organisers yourself, or, the shops that are supplying the neutral service and offer your skills.
Also remember not to limit yourself. We all prefer to work in one discipline or another but a solid mechanic should have a great working knowledge of all types of bikes.
Another great way to get in to event support is to contact your local Road Racing club. Local road races are always run on a shoe string and volunteers are generally gratefully received. In addition the type of mechanics you will most commonly encounter are things like wheel changes. These are relatively simple to do and will give you a good way to ease yourself in to working in a high pressure situations.
Working with Shops and Smaller Teams
Again, smaller teams such as shop supported teams are another great way to get your foot in the door. As with the road racing side of things, they are generally run on a very tight budget and will be very grateful of offers of assistance.
Local Up and Coming Riders
Another great way to gain experience is to work with a specific rider. There are always plenty of good and promising riders in any area, now that cycling has become so popular. ‘Attaching’ yourself to a local racer can also provide you with a route on to a larger team if they themselves get sponsored and are happy with you then you can find yourself getting on to a team via that method.
Stick to Your Guns.
“Be patient, never rush and stick to your guns. Learn to do things properly”
Lastly, thank you for your interest. It is great to hear from young mechanics who are enthusiastic about the craft. My journey has lasted some 25 years now and has seen me work for Record Breakers, Olympians, Yellow Jersey Holders and countless Professional Athletes. I have invented things, started companies, seen the world and met some truly wonderful people along the way, some of whom have remained lifelong friends. I can honestly say there is nothing I would rather be doing.
The journey will be full of highs and lows. The lows can be pretty rubbish, we all make mistakes along the way and generally mistakes made by mechanics are pretty costly (both financially and spiritually), but the highs, oh my lord, the highs make up for it.
Be patient, never rush and stick to your guns. Learn to do things properly, the right way and the speed will come through repetition.
Most of all NEVER compromise. At the end of the day we have peoples lives in our hands, that makes our job very important and it is vital that we get it right and are not swayed by customers or clients. Their safety must always come first, even if they don’t themselves a1ppreciate that at the time.
Good Luck I hope to see you at the races someday soon!”