Team Laser Cats

Women in Philadelphia who love bikes, cats, and snacks.

Michaela and the Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship

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When I was eleven years old, I was finally tall enough to just barely fit on my mother’s road bike and having seen my father kit up and ride so many times, I told him I wanted to try road riding with him. Being his favorite activity, he was thrilled! He got me my own pair of cycling shoes outfitted with SPD cleats, and my first jersey and cycling shorts. The jersey was orange, pink and covered in palm trees, a thing of beauty, really. Turns out I fell in love with the sport, riding every weekend with my dad, and doing some occasional longer sponsored rides (my longest being 50 miles, not bad for an 11 year old!). I started waking up early during the summer to watch stages of the Tour de France, and had all sorts of stats and facts memorized about the riders. Probably the embarrassingly funny bit was that my AOL screenname was “FutureProCyclist.”

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Baby’s first road bike, a Trek 2100, at age 13.

This love for bicycles has stuck with me ever since (although taking a few different forms in the interim; like many others I also had my “sweetest fixie” stage in college) so a few years ago I decided I wanted to explore the industry further, and started working as a part time sales person in a bike shop downtown. I ended up really enjoying it and my thirst for all things bikes was growing rapidly. In my first summer there, I started racing road, tried racing track, and took my first real mountain bike ride.  Fast forward to about a year ago, when I decided that this industry was where I needed to be, I quit my final bartending job, and started working at a new shop, as a full time employee.

Since then I haven’t looked back. I spent so much of 2015 in the saddle, countless hours training, racing, and adventuring on any bike I could get my hands on. I quickly developed an interest in not just riding and knowing what technology was out there, but learning all the inner workings of said technology and grew a great desire to spin a wrench.  As I’m sure you all know, female mechanics are pretty few and far between, unfortunately, and this wasn’t exactly the easiest transition to try to make. My coworkers were mostly helpful with showing me how to do repairs, but I still had to endure quite a bit of teasing for not already knowing things, and of course, for having emotions. Although that wasn’t nearly as discouraging as situations such as “I wasn’t asking you, I was asking the mechanic” while the customer pointed to my male coworker, who was a sales person, not a mechanic. So when the distribution company Quality Bicycle Parts, more commonly called QBP, announced they were accepting applications for their Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship program, I knew I had to apply for it.

QBP’s Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship was created with the intention of getting women in the cycling industry more technical/mechanical knowledge, so that they can further their influence with the cycling industry as well as with women ridership in general.  Recipients of the scholarship receive full tuition to attend United Bicycle Institute’s two week Professional Shop Repair and Operations Workshop, in Ashland Oregon. The application consisted of questions about experience with cycling, career goals within the industry, and about what the applicants have done and will do for the women’s bike community.  I used these essays to write about my experiences working at shops, racing for Team Laser Cats, leading many women’s group rides, and teaching women’s only flat fix clinics.  I spend a lot of time rereading and rewriting my essays, making sure they were absolutely perfect, hoping for the best.

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August 2015, an all-women, hands-on, flat fix clinic, led by yours truly.

I knew that there were going to be hundreds of applicants and only sixteen recipients, so I tried to keep my expectations low. So when I received the email a few weeks later THAT I WAS CHOSEN TO GO TO UBI, I literally started crying while I was at work. Now, in less than three weeks, I will be on my very first trip out to the West Coast, to start these classes. I am unbelievably honored and excited to have this opportunity (although I will be missing my teammates and my dogs while I am out there)!

I cannot express how thankful I am to QBP and all the other industry partners, SRAM, RockShox, Park Tool, UBI, Jagwire, Saris, Michelin, Surly, Liv, Ergon, and Dero, who are making this possible for me and my soon-to-be classmates.

Click here to read more about the scholarship and my fellow recipients of it.

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a collage of all the 2016 QBP Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship recipients!

 

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