Bikes and Tech
HTC-Highroad mechanics zip tied the rear...

Ask Nick: The mechanics’ manifesto

After questions on tire pressure and my favorite chain lube, the most popular question I’m asked is how to become a pro team mechanic.
The mechanic's life

After questions on tire pressure and my favorite chain lube, the most popular question I’m asked is how to become a pro team mechanic. There is no simple answer because it’s a combination of calling, personality and skill.

I could write a treatise on the subject but instead, in honor of the Amgen Tour of California, I’m going to let my camera do the talking. Some of the best mechanics in the world are here. So far they’ve worked in far-less-than-ideal conditions. For the WorldTour teams the combination of rental trucks and poor weather has made it particularly tricky.

I’ll add only a few words of wisdom to the images. For those of you aspiring to join the pro ranks as a mechanic, listen up. This is the CliffsNotes version of my mechanic’s manifesto:

• Focus on the things you can control and do them well. For the rest, go with the flow.
• Pay attention and learn to listen. You’ll earn respect and improve more quickly.
• Work hard, really hard. But make sure to have some fun.
• Pack light.
• Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about the bike racers.
• There isn’t much room for ego among staff members (nor is it helpful).
• Above all else look out for your riders’ safety and your sponsors.

That’s it. It’s not rocket science. But it isn’t easy either. If you get homesick easily or if you’re particular about food and other creature comforts, stay home. But if you want to see parking lots all over the world, this could be the job for you.

Talk to local pros about helping out. You’ll have to give away a bit of work to build a reputation, but make sure you draw a line. Do not volunteer to work for a team. By doing so you undermine the earning power of established mechanics. You deserve to get paid for the work you do. Then just keep at it. Best of luck!

The mechanic's life
Spider Tech mechanics took the time after a wet transfer to wash their team Cadillac. SUPER PRO.
The mechanic's life
Garmin-Cervelo mechanics put this rag over Thor’s white bartape and brake hood to keep dirt from the bus from smudging the world champs cockpit.
The mechanic's life
Eric Jellum of Kelly Benefits keeps a football around. He knows that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Keepin’ it fun helps keep a mechanic fresh.
The mechanic's life
HTC-Highroad mechanics zip tied the rear derailleur Di2 wire to keep it from falling into the cassette. Preventative maintenance goes a long way.
The mechanic's life
The super pro technique here is putting a layer of electrical tape around the valve stem BEFORE gluing on the tire. This keeps it from rattling and looks better than taping over the valve after the tire is installed.
The mechanic's life
Sh*t happens but the show must go on. HTC-Highroad were unphased by a broken rear window.
The mechanic's life
Team mechanics are not the only super pros. SRAM neutral guys are clever fellows. Notice the small SRAM stickers on the front fender. They put them there once GoPro installed a camera on their fork and made sure they were in the shot. Keeping sponsors happy is the name of the game.
The mechanic's life
Before the start of stage 4 to Sierra Road, Rory Sutherland asked for a different brake pad compound. Team mechanics had what he was looking for and in two minutes they were installed.
The mechanic's life
He’s not a mechanic and in this case he’s not super pro. Rabobank’s Tjallinji forgot his helmet and borrowed one from Radioshack. He did get the brand right though, staying with a Giro.
The mechanic's life
Team UHC head mechanic, Steve Sperling, puts on his smile, a mechanic’s best tool. (I know that’s corny, but it’s also true.)