This past Fall, I had the opportunity to apply for a Women's Mechanic Scholarship presented by Quality Bicycle Parts (QBP) and supported through other various sponsors. The Mechanic Scholarship was for a women's only 10 day class on Professional Mechanic Repair and Shop Operation at United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon. In early January, I found out I had been chosen as one of sixteen women to attend the class!
I began my journey to Oregon early; the day before we started class. Three flights in a row will leave a person feeling quite tired, so I was stoked that most of the other women attending the class were already at the hostel we were staying in and were kind enough to share some food (and wine) when I showed up.
Each day of class provided a new topic to learn and work with in hands-on scenarios. Our first 5 days were as follows:
- Measuring Tools, Torque, & Wheel Components
- Wheel Building & Wheel repair (this was may favorite day of all of the classes)
- Repair Stands, Tires & Tubes, Bottom Brackets, & Cranks
- Chainrings, Chains, Freehubs, Freewheels, Cassettes, & Gearing
- Derailleurs, Shift Levers, Cables, & Housing
Click on the pictures below to see what the first half of my week at UBI was like!
Within the 10 days of classes, we had a weekend between the first 5 and second 5 days to do some exploring. That Saturday, QBP covered the cost of mountain bike rentals for those of us that wanted to hit the trails (14 out of the 16 joined in on that!!!). What an awesome time that was! A lot of the women had never been on a mountain ride before. It was so much fun riding with them and seeing the excitement factor go up as they experienced a new way to ride bikes. The trails were great! I had been itching so hard to get out and ride, and this day did not disappoint. That night we were treated to a dinner at a local brewery with two employees of QBP and the UBI staff.
I enjoyed those trails so much that on Sunday I did a 10mile run up that same mountain and back down the trails.
After an awesome weekend getting to play outside all day, my brain was reset and ready to take on more bike information! The second set of 5 days of classes went as such:
6. Rim Brakes
7. Hydraulic Brakes & Suspension Service
8. Headsets & Frame Construction
9. Bike Overhaul Day
10. Shop Operation & Written Test
My favorite day of this week was Hydraulic Brakes and Suspension Service day. We were lucky enough to have guest instructor, Sara Jarrell, from SRAM, teach us an Avid brake bleed and Rock Shox suspension service. It was great to hear about her time in the bike industry and her experience with SRAM.
The last two days were for our "final exams". Thursday was completing a bike overhaul, which started with completely disassembling and cleaning the bike, and then putting it back together with proper grease, torque spec, cable routing, etc.
The last day was a written exam on all of the information we had learned in the last 9 days. It was fairly intense and not so much about having that information memorized, but knowing how to use your resources (that your shop usually has) to solve a bike mechanic issue. I don't know if I passed this test, yet. I will hopefully find out in the next week or so.
After we were all finished, it was amazing to realize all that we had learned and accomplished in just 10 days. The experience as a whole showed me how big the bicycle world is. I met and worked with talented, strong, independent women from all over the country. Thanks to them, our two instructors, everyone at UBI, and QBP, I am returning to my position here at Rocktown with newfound ability and confidence.