The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) Things About Being a World Cup Mechanic

Dec 1, 2022 at 16:30
by Henry Quinney  

People sometimes ask me about the how, what and whys of World Cup wrenching. While not being a veteran of the circuit - there are some mechanics who've literally spent decades in the pits - I've had a taste of it over the last couple of years, and I would say I've established some of the good, and some of the bad.

People also occasionally ask me how to get into it. Sadly I don't really have an answer for them. I got into it by being in the right place at the right time. That said, while you can't always control timing, you can choose where you wish to live to maximise your chances of meeting the right people. Places like Whistler, Morzine or Queenstown have great mechanics to not only learn from but also to help you make connections you might rely on if you wish to embark on a globe-trotting, cardboard box-taping life.

Let's start with the bad. Here are the five worst things about being a World Cup mechanic.

The Hours

While I'm not averse to working long hours, especially while doing a job that I genuinely enjoy, for mechanics the hours can be very, very long.

When a mechanic is working with just one rider things aren't so bad. Similarly, if the bike is reliable and the setup consistent, then it can be possible to get things wrapped up in a timely manner. However, if you have two or even three riders, the spread of A and B practice, plus timed training, then it can mean regular 16 or maybe 17-hour stints on your feet in the pits on consecutive days. Other factors could be something like riders wanting to try a mixed-wheeled setup at the last minute or wishing to explore every single tire combination imaginable. These things can eat up the hours, and that's not factoring in crash damage and regular maintenance. It's so important to make a rider feel comfortable on the bike, but those jobs do add up when you've got multiple bikes to keep in check.

All of that is operating on the assumption that the venue is close to the accommodation (think Fort William), that there won't be an hour long wait to wash off the bike with a lower power hose (Snowshoe) and that the pits are on the same mountain of the race (à la Vallnord). These little things that would never occur to you from the outside can play a large role in how much meaningful sleep you get after a long day.

Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro and Bike Stand

The Travel

Travel may sound like a blessing but, at least in my experience, you tend to just see the inside of different airports and the same tents. Maybe I don't appreciate it as I should, but personally, it's always been a massive con for me. If we could do these races an hour down the road from one another I would much prefer that. That said, it is of course a World Cup, even if that transpires to mean Europe, with a quick detour around North America on the side. Maybe it should be called the North Western cup until we venture to the Eastern or Southern Hemispheres - now that would be something.

The other issue is that some towns that host World Cups don't have appropriate accommodations for all the teams and spectators. There's a lot of sleeping on sofas and in kitchens. Eventually, you'll consider the solitude of a large mattress-sized cupboard to be the height of luxury. Of course, there's nothing wrong with sharing a room, and even big-time footballers and road cycling teams do it - but sometimes the availability of large houses is so thin that you're packing in like sardines or driving from far out of town. For me, I much prefer sleeping on the race truck at the venue if the possibility is there, but not all teams have them.

It sounds silly, but I do like the different foods of different places, and if you can manage to sneak out for a ride then that's pretty great, but largely the novelty wears off. Fast.

Henry Quinney Ride-Wrapping Ami s V10 before it meets any wet rocks.

The Lack of Riding

Again, this often does hinge on how many riders you have. However, even with one, your job is to be there to support them and not to be whisked around the world on an eight-stop riding holiday. Sometimes you might get a ride in, often you won't.

So if you find the time, which you'll find difficult, it's also operating on the assumption that there is space to carry your bike - which there won't be. Most vans are packed full and verge on being overweight. The penalty for driving an overweight vehicle is high, so it's often just not worth the risk.

The time factor is one of the main reasons why so many mechanics prefer working on EWS teams. The travel is more varied, the structure less rigid and you also normally get to sample the good stuff yourself.

It also depends on where you're living, too. When I was in New Zealand, knowing I had a summer of riding to look forward to balanced out not riding much in the European summer. Northern Hemisphere winters can suck, though, when you can't ride much during the summer.

Complete strip downs happening in the Commencal pits.

The Pay

The best deal to be in is to be salaried and have time for other projects in the off-season. This acts as a retainer and means you have some degree of financial security. That said, you are often times considered "on call" and can be expected to be available for the team's needs.

For me, this was never an issue or factor in why I did it. I did it because I loved it. That said, apart from owning a hamster called Pepe, I've never had more than one mouth to feed. And, even when I did he didn't burn out the finances too much, save for a few blueberries and nuts. Often, your wage may also be subsidized with staff bikes or parts. This is great, and something I've enjoyed enormously, however, it's not the same as money in your pocket.

The Disappointments

To work for a World Cup team is to learn to be efficient with your disappointments. A huge field of ultra-competitive athletes means that most of the time most of the people leave after the race disappointed. There are few lower feelings than packing down the pits early on finals day when nobody qualifies.

It's important of course not to sap the motivation of the riders and to try to contribute towards a positive team culture. Accept it, support them and move on to the next one.

Yes, riders may well be happy with a top twenty, and so they should be, but by their very nature, the thing they seek isn't easy to come by. However, being the competitive souls that they are it's remarkable to see how quickly they often dust themselves off.





So, you've flown so many economy miles that you're shaped like a pretzel, you haven't slept properly for weeks and you have no money... Why would anyone ever do it? Well, it's simple really. Here are the main reasons why I love working for race teams.

New Bikes & Testing


It's hard to imagine doing the job if you weren't interested in or passionate about bikes. Getting the latest not-yet-released tech is exciting, and even more, so is being part of the conversations of how it should be. It's also great to hear things straight from the horse's mouth and talk to brands about why things have to be a certain way, or how they could be improved.

Talking about bikes, for me, it's near enough as good as riding the things, and hearing the ideas or setup choices around bikes to make them as fast as possible is infinitely fascinating to me. It also means that you will never be wanting for a tire or bike kit again, even if they may well be hand-me-downs.

Knowing What Really Happened

We all enjoy the rumour mill or reading the comments section to glean the truth behind the season's most salacious story. What's better is being there and finding it out firsthand and in real time. How they really hated that bike and snapped two frames in one weekend, or the reason why one of the sport's stars wanted to change their team. I know it might sound trivial, but being a fan of downhill is a big lure of the job and being where the action is was always a big part of it. I love downhill racing, and at times it can feel like you are just a fan but with VIP access.

I think if you're somebody that loves to follow racing as a full-time hobby, rather than sitting down to just watch the highlights, then this is something to savor.

Thibaut Laly s Ohlins shock at the Pinkbike Racing pit.

Friends

I've made some great friends along the way. I know it sounds cheesy but it's true. When the first riders head up to practice or when you can snatch five minutes during a rebuild on track walk day, it's great to just see familiar faces. One or two of my best friends work on the circuit and shooting the shit with them is genuinely one of the highlights of the weekend. It's also compounded by the fact that we all live in different corners of the world and wouldn't get much chance to see each other at all if it wasn't for racing.

The Test

Truthfully, I'm not a particularly good mechanic. I'm okay and I get the job done, but I don't think I'm anything special or better than any others on the circuit. To be a World Cup mechanic, yes you need experience working on bikes, but it's more about knowing how that bike and set of products work than having some universal and all-encompassing knowledge about everything that ever was. You need to know one particular brand of bike very, very well, and to be honest most people could do that.

However, I do love the test and challenge of being up against it and pulling it off. Whether it's a last-minute turnaround of a broken bike for their last practice run before qualifying or the nerves as the rider puts that crank through the start beam in their final run, the chain not snapping and you then knowing that you can go home with a clear conscience.

There are also areas where you can help the rider, and that is massively rewarding too. Even if it's just to guide them to their own answer and be a sounding board, I have always found that very to be an important part of the job.


When Things Go Well

People put themselves through the rigmarole of racing World Cups because it's very important to them. Not important like riding is to you or me, but elevated way beyond that to the point where it almost defines them. Helping anyone achieve anything so heartfelt is an absorbing prospect, it's almost irresistible.

In life, so many of our actions are kind of hollow - it sounds a bit bleak but it is true. Not that that is a bad thing - I don't expect you to butter your toast as if your life depends on it, or let tears of relief flow after you get your email inbox down to zero (Brian Park is a possible exception). I think when people want to be the best at something, and you can tell when they really want it, that has a way to cut through the white noise and has always struck a chord with me - and I don't imagine I'm alone in that.

Helping somebody achieve something they'll remember forever is something to savor and probably the best part of all.





107 Comments

  • 191 5
 When Henry first moved out of his parents house, he sat his father down and told him he was the man of the house now.
  • 69 2
 Henry ate my dog's homework.
  • 88 2
 He's my wife's boyfriend's wife's boyfriend.
  • 12 4
 Sounds about as fun as being a roadie for Coldplay.
  • 9 1
 @scary1: I was a tour8ng rigger for big acts. It's worse everyone on stage is a total knob.
  • 3 2
 I upvoted this without reading it
  • 4 0
 @spinzillathespacelizard: i was stage hand before i became a studio mechanic. being a stage is fun for about one month
  • 127 0
 As the sole mechanic for my family’s bikes I can relate to this.
  • 1 0
 Same, not as cool or glamorous as your job Henry but I do get a lot of praise and all the parts/gear I can buy
  • 68 0
 Thanks Henry, this was a good read
  • 67 1
 Is it a Job, Pro/Con list:

Con: the job

Pro: not the job

yep sounds like a Job to me.
  • 34 2
 Henry is super British
  • 12 1
 Yes, he is quite so.
  • 2 0
 LOL, I pictured Bicycle Repair Man from Monty Python Big Grin
  • 29 1
 Pb should do a version of the bike academy but for mechanics have some different competitions that involve bike mechanics. The winner gets to work on said sponsor. just an idea
  • 25 0
 The best thing about being a World Cup mechanic is scooping up all the excess groupies who prefer grouchy slouchy dorks to elite athletes in their prime. All of them!
  • 27 5
 The hardest part about being a world Cup mechanic is becoming a world Cup mechanic. I have searched high and low for years looking for an opportunity, being Canadian it makes it even harder as most teams are based out of Europe out the US. I would love to travel the world working on bikes for real athletes, idgaf about the hours
  • 41 1
 Move away from Calgary?
  • 10 2
 it comes down to contacts, I like John Hall (Gwin's Mechanic) but look up his story, the guy was not involved in the cycling world until very late in his life, the guy did tours in the middle east for years, came back and able to land a job with a major cyclist, he didnt go through the traditional meritocracy route, which is fine, i guess??
  • 19 0
 Start with local races and racers. Help out for no pay. Find someone who could use a hand and be there to help. Canada cups too. Same thing. The right place isn't a random place. Be at races
  • 61 0
 You can work on my bike next summer during the Dunbar / BC DH series. Long hours, no pay, and working for a mediocre (or below) rider with zero chance of getting noticed. The beers will be cold, free, and plentiful though!
  • 4 0
 @TaytonR: I did
  • 2 1
 @Narro2: except he did. It’s not like he just sent in an application to a help wanted ad. He just served before his bike Career and was one of a few who get and make the most of an opportunity.
  • 15 0
 @Narro2: Um, yeah no. I met John when he was a 13 YO bike nut and he worked for me at the bike shop as soon as he legally could! (And some illegally too!). He worked for me until he graduated and then off to the military life. I still have a bunch of letters he sent while serving and I can unequivocally say John is one of the most amazing dudes I have got to meet!! Love you like a little brother @johnboy33!!
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: nailed it. The only way in or up is you gotta know a guy
  • 1 0
 It can be challenging to break into the world of professional cycling as a mechanic, especially for those who are based outside of Europe or the US. Many teams are based in these regions, and the competition for available positions can be intense. In order to increase your chances of success, it is important to be persistent and to continue to seek out opportunities to gain experience and showcase your skills. Networking and building relationships with other mechanics, riders, and team staff can also be beneficial. By establishing yourself as a trusted and capable mechanic, you may be able to gain access to opportunities that may not be widely advertised. Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry and being knowledgeable about the latest technologies and techniques can help set you apart from other mechanics and make you more attractive to potential employers. Ultimately, becoming a world Cup mechanic requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to persevere in the face of challenges. However, for those who are passionate about the sport and are willing to put in the effort, the rewards of working at the highest level of the sport can be incredibly rewarding.
  • 1 0
 @whattheheel: thanks for the info i didnt know. I was a bit prejudicious (is this a noun???), but the point still stands, how can one be off to military tours and come back to land a job with a major world reknown racer, most of us know or have heard of veterans that have come back and struggled for years.
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: The sun shines on a dog’s ass every now and then. He was just at the right place at the right time.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: hard work, continuous education, dedication, perseverance, these are the things that make up “good luck”
No there is no such thing as “just by chance”, and saying it’s luck really downplays the work that people put in. He’s in that position because he put himself in that position.
He worked for it, pushed for it, put himself in the position to be noticed,
And continues to over perform in his role,
we make our own luck

End of story
  • 1 1
 You don’t want it enough, simple as that.
You think you do, but others out there want it more, that’s why you’re not a World Cup mechanic.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t want to downplay the work you’ve put in, you just haven’t put in enough.

If you really want it, you’ll attain it, might take months, or years, or decades, but the opportunities exist now, and still will in 10, 20 years from now.

Just cause it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible, you just haven’t done enough to get there yet.
I believe in you, go fu$kin get it
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: that sounds cliché, but i know what you mean, it doesn't mean i completely agree, i live in a 3rd world country right now and there are literally unfortunate people out there, i am about to step out of my office and i am 100% sure i will stumble upon one, at least...before I reach my car. I don't want to victimize him/her, but I can assure you he/she had way less chances than we did.

Is that bad luck? I don't know, I don't know what to call it, but I do know that preparation and opportunity have never crossed roads for that person.
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: I’m not so sure about that,
Not victim blaming, and I have a tonne of compassion for those that are less fortunate than I am. If you want it badly enough, you can work for it, and achieve it. You just have to want it bad enough.

I know my post sounded cheesy as hell, and potentially rubs people the wrong way sometimes, but I truly believe it.
I’ve lived and worked in some tough places, and it’s tough as hell, I’ve also worked with disadvantaged youth here, just as tough, but it’s exactly working with those people that have me still believing in that idea.
I’ve played supporting roles in young, beat down, disadvantaged youth who have worked hard as hell to achieve third dreams and goals, have overcome things, and pasts that we can’t even imagine. If one person can do it, anyone can.

I friggin believe in all you surly c@nts, go chase those dreams and work your ass off for them. Bring that positivity back with you, and help support/lift up the next person to reach their dreams and goals.

With all my fanfare, I’m aware that their are people and circumstances that can prove my ideals wrong, but not for the OP, and certainly not for anyone of us tapping away on our computer. If we are are feeling unfulfilled, or that we missed out on our dreams, we only have ourselves to look at, we made safe choices, we chose the well beaten path, we chose to live someone else’s ideal and not our own. It’s never too late, go chase that b1tch!
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: while work is an important part of life and being will to risk it reaps big rewards. desire means nothing. There is a large amount anyone doesn’t have control over. Privelage of who bore you being number one. Reducing life to something so simple as they want it more than you is something I’ve ironically literally most often heard from the kids of millionaires in my personal experience.

I have a friend who is one of the most disciplined and hard working people I know. He put everything into a restaurant he opened in Jan 2020. He lost everything and then some. Will never be in the position financially to try again short of winning the lotto.
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: i understand man, even though you wrote 4 paragraphs you are still oversimplifying it to "wanting it bad enough", but reality is that there are a lot of things behind that , there is motivation, insight, humility, specially nowdays that most people are understanding how those Tiktograms and social media work... Brain Chemistry is a big part of it.
The phrase "wanting it bad enough" is ok, but that phrase bears some accountability and full responsibility to not undermine other values or virtues like the examples i mentioned, otherwise a kid who has only been told "you must want it bad enough" will most likely cut corners and hit a wall sooner or later.

Anyway, i think you know that, let's get to work, have a nice one guys.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2:
@bulletbassman
Really appreciate the open and respectful discussion about this.
Maybe I have a slightly different view, and thats what I lean on to help get me through my days.

I like the thought that its somewhat under my control, and not just up to circumstance, or fate. I believe we are (the royal we) the captains of our own fate, and the sooner we come to that reality, the sooner we can take responsibility for that path.
I try my best to levy no judgement on anyone for how they choose to live, it took me a long time to come to the place where I am, and I am by no means successful like I want to be. But the shift in mentality, and taking that responsibility on, rather than believing its out of hands has made a positive impact for me, YMMV, but I suggest giving it a go.

There’s anecdotal evidence to prove or disprove any theory out there, there are millions of paths to failure, and few to success, so the work and perseverance required to reach any level of success is immense.
My message to the OP @Tr011 is that if being a pro mech is your dream job, the opportunities are still there, you have to find them
  • 1 0
 @onawalk: I think that's more than fair. I certainly am not trying to take away from "free will" or that an individual isn't the biggest factor in determining their individual experience. I just wouldn't go around telling people they aren't what they want to be because they didn't want enough. It can come off as crass and condescending rather than motivating.
  • 20 1
 Although I truly love hearing Henry complain, it's nice to know he likes his job. We need more videos with Henry, nothing better than some wickedly dry British humor.
  • 15 0
 I don't always have parts fail while racing, but when I do I make sure to blame my mechanic.
  • 17 0
 "...And my mechanic is me"
  • 11 1
 I feel like World Cup racing just lacks the inertia to make it into a mainstream sport. Ideally more races, but as pointed out in the article, who wants to sleep on couches more often?
Ideally at least a dozen races, closer together geographically and in time. And if it's going to be around the world, have a NZ and Aussie race close to each other...
  • 2 1
 What does sleeping on couches and being a mainstream sport have to do with each other?
  • 9 0
 The World Cup is the World Cup not because of where the races are raced but because of where the racers are from. It seems to be a pretty diverse international filed.
  • 15 3
 but, but...how can it be called the world cup if there isn't a race in every country of the world?
  • 18 2
 @k2theg:
A World Cup DH
race in Antarctica?

I’d love to see those bikes.
200mm travel fat bikes with 1/2” spiked tires. Hell yeah!
  • 5 1
 @WTF-IDK: I hadn't thought of that, but yes, that would be amazing! Penguins scattered over the track too.
  • 12 0
 @k2theg: you're thinking Mario Kart
  • 2 1
 @k2theg: and you run one or two over with those 1/2" spiked tires
  • 6 0
 @RonSauce: Rainbow Road Downhill.
  • 2 1
 @WTF-IDK: think it was country not continent.
  • 2 0
 @WTF-IDK: Heck Yes, I can see it now, those bikes would be a thing of ferocious beauty.
  • 3 0
 @RonSauce: I HATE the penguins in Sherbet land!
  • 3 0
 Literally all the football world cup matches are being held in Qatar. Turns out it is much more about the invite list than the variety of locations.
  • 1 0
 @WTF-IDK: wouldn't want to hang too far off the back of one of them!
  • 8 0
 So, do we know if Henry had much to do with influencing cable routing through the headset?
  • 3 0
 Yes he was a shill to the big brands so Pinkbike could solidly milk engagement numbers for a year
  • 5 0
 As a former superbike guy I concur wholeheartedly with all of this. For those looking to go down this road you have to network to get in, then you have to recognize opportunity and be willing to go all in (families kinda squash this bit), finally, you have to be aggressive yet humble to stay in. I spent a decade of my life in pro racing (which I pretty much stumbled into simply by knowing a guy) and enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s a hell of a ride but it comes at a price; everything else in your life comes second. It burns up relationships, and the years fly by but again, totally worth the price of admission.
  • 8 1
 I'm just jealous of anyone who doesn't have to pay for tyres.
  • 2 10
flag vhdh666 (Dec 2, 2022 at 22:03) (Below Threshold)
 bit off topic?
  • 3 1
 @vhdh666: " It also means that you will never be wanting for a tire or bike kit again, even if they may well be hand-me-downs."
  • 6 0
 so it looks like "the good things" are really sucked out of a thumb Big Grin
  • 7 1
 Really enjoyed this article @henryquinny, thanks.
  • 6 0
 Did Pepe get to travel with you?
  • 1 0
 I have been into mountain biking for 25years and I was a cycle mechanic 18-22years old and now pushing closer to 40 I still hate doing maintenance on my bikes - prior to working in a bike shop I would enjoy hours in the garage pulling my bike apart, servicing the shock, etc Not quite the same as world cup but I can relate ha
  • 4 0
 Was internal cable routing left out of this article just to distract us?
  • 2 0
 Almost a post without a reminder about this in the comments Thanks for keeping the important things in focus haha.
  • 1 0
 I love every minute of it. The misadventures are the best part. Been on the circuit for 3 years now and wouldn't trade a minute of it. Coolest feeling in the world being in the start gate with your rider.
  • 1 1
 I asked the ai to comment on this.... It is difficult to definitively say that one brand is better than the other as both SRAM and Shimano are highly respected and well-regarded companies in the cycling industry. Both brands offer a wide range of high-quality products that are designed to meet the needs of different riders and riding styles. Ultimately, the choice between SRAM and Shimano will come down to personal preference and the specific needs of the individual rider. That being said, some riders may prefer SRAM over Shimano due to its range of 1x drivetrain systems, which offer a simpler and more efficient shifting experience. SRAM's 1x drivetrains use a single chainring and eliminate the need for a front derailleur, which can save weight and reduce the risk of mechanical issues. Additionally, SRAM's brakes are known for their smooth and powerful performance, which can be especially beneficial for riders who frequently ride in challenging terrain. On the other hand, Shimano offers a wider range of drivetrain and braking options, which can make it a good choice for riders who want more flexibility and customization. Shimano also has a reputation for durability and reliability, which can be important for riders who want their components to last for many years. Overall, both SRAM and Shimano are excellent choices for riders looking for high-quality components, and the best option will ultimately depend on the individual rider's needs and preferences.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for showing the real costs of "dream life" of many.
They often see only the dream and miss the reality
  • 3 0
 Vocab word of the day is: Rigmarole
  • 1 0
 How do you orient tire labels relative to the valve stems? Tire model lined up with valve, or make of tire? Seriously, do the riders notice?
  • 4 1
 Group hug?
  • 15 0
 I reckon you’re more likely to get an invitation to a group ride.
  • 2 0
 @bikewriter: that’s exactly my point Smile
  • 2 0
 Group ride?
  • 2 1
 And if you think the hours are hard... wait till you hear about being a road racing mechanic
  • 2 0
 Oh god, still gluing new tubulars on every night, even though tubeless tires are measurably better.
  • 1 3
 I'm not a WC mechanic but I started mechanics in 2001... In 2014 one guy from my city ask me if I can be your mechanic, "no problem" i say, so days later I showed him a list with things he had to do, and mine obviously... First thing he failed was that he had to bring me the bike every Monday... He brought me the bike on a Tuesday, then Wednesday... But I showed him my list of things and in the end we didn't last a month as a "team".
  • 2 0
 Sounds like a horrible job tbh
  • 2 0
 Great article and insight of a DH world cup mechanic.
  • 3 0
 Pepe the hamster pics
  • 1 0
 All those apply to being a mechanic on a US based Pro Conti road team too. I miss my friends.
  • 2 0
 Fantastic read. Love your work as always Henry.
  • 2 0
 Henry could you tell us how much you would make in dollars per year?
  • 1 0
 Very well written and a great read. There are other wrenches in your bag.
  • 2 1
 How much do factory race mechanics make?
  • 3 0
 Every team is different so hard to pin a definitive figure. I work two jobs since the winter is basically my off-season from racing. I don't have any expenses when I'm traveling or working races which is nice. Both of my jobs together I'm just under 100k a year. You will be at a huge disadvantage as an American trying to get on a factory team. Most teams require you live in Europe and have euro equivalent of a CDL. It's possible, but you will be limited with opportunities on teams and there is very little turnover.
  • 7 0
 @mrkkbb Not sure about today, but I will be transparent. I began world cup team wrenching in 1993, left the world cups in 2004. In 93, I worked for factory Iron Horse, $12k a year, thousand a month and 3 bikes (that I sold). I then signed a deal with Barracuda Dos Equis team, it was 50k a year, flat salary. I went on to mongoose and made 50k, but I had them put a performance bonus via my riders-so when Leigh and Lopes won (or through 5th place) I made $2500 for a win and so on, with a 10k to win a title-they won a lot...I mean, a lot.

I was probably one of the highest paid wrenches and a few guys tried starting a mechanics union, but that never took off, thankfully because you were paid what you were able to negotiate. By 2000, the glory days were collapsing and contracts for wrenches were drying up-I pivoted out of racing and into industry full time.
I was always a private contractor so I had no medical insurance and had to pay my own taxes, but I managed. There was a lot of bikes at the end of season to sell, components, etc...I also had sponsorship deals with Mechanix Gloves, Park Tools, Finish Line lubes-was featured in print ads with them and I think all of those deals a year might have been $5k in total, 10k at their peak.

I paid for ALL team expenses on my personal cards and in my 20's was able to rack up some impressive credit and mileage points, etc...that was hard to manage all that and get paid, sending expense reports while out on the road in an era before digital work, was challenging-faxing in invoices, expense reports, etc...but, towards the end, computers were a thing, email, etc...

I will say, 2001, I was the Team Schwinn/Toyota mechanic and in August they went bankrupt-along with GT. By September we were not getting paid our salary, but lawyers told us to continue on tour if you can if we ever have hope of getting our money in a settlement-there were only a few races left, so we all went. We got papers to sign to say we resolve our rights to settlement for a flat rate of $1000, I did not sign it (Nor did my wife Leigh, who was on the team as well).

I think I was owed about 23k for remainder, Leigh was owed about 6 figures. I think about a year later, we both got checks in the mail-surprised-from the bankruptcy deal, I think I got about $6500? I don't remember Leigh's amount, but it was an awesome surprise because we thought that money was gone!
  • 2 0
 @stiksandstones: Hey Stikman, those were the golden years of mountain bike wrenching and racing. I was wrenching regionally for a Mid-Atlantic chain of outdoor stores during that time period. I basically had a home base with a regional race team. Between 1996 and 2003, I think the most I made was $25k a year, but that was guaranteed--with one day of travel and setup and working 2-3 days in one of the stores during the week. I also had a pretty basic Expert racer sponsorship with the brands we sold and that was pretty much bikes, gear, clothing. Never needed to pay for bike related parts during those years, and I got to ride quite a bit.

I switched to training and sales within the industry up until 2010, Started at $30k and maxed out at $45k there. Easily made 1.5x that the month after I resigned to start an entry-level engineering draftsman job and at that point, I realized my days in the industry were done.

I miss the people, friends, and atmosphere, but I wouldn't be able to buy a house and have a family, let alone live in California working for the industry.
  • 2 0
 @XC-Only: Glad you made it out alive! haha. I know a few other peers that made good moves from wrenching. Scott Daubert has been the head of the TREK race teams shop forever, over 20 years I think? Joe Buckley who was palmers mechanic, among others, has been a specialized product manager for ages, most recently been the eMTB product guru. I think there a few others for sure.
  • 1 0
 Gotta be damn cool when a rider wins on a bike you built up
  • 1 0
 Pros-French girls
Cons- everything else
Worth it!
Is that ok?
  • 1 1
 I would not want to be a cup mechanic. Too much ball sweat
  • 1 0
 Well, I'm all up for it!
  • 1 0
 Great read.
  • 1 0
 What
  • 1 0
 Not into outside
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