Three already experienced mechanics are currently training at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland, to perfect their skills.
The students are completing the UCI Level 3 course under the guidance of WCC tutor Jean-Louis Guihard--Thébault, and WCC Manager Mechanics Alex Roussel.
We talk briefly to each “trainee” mechanic.
South African Liam Knight passed the UCI Level 2 qualification in 2014 when his family triathlon shop was still in its development stages.
Now in charge of the booming East London shop’s workshop, Knight has also discovered a love of teaching and has run evening courses to “share a bit of what I learned at the World Cycling Centre a few years ago.”
At the end of August 2017, he delivered a Level 1 course for mechanics in Ethiopia, and hopes his Level 3 qualification will enable him to carry out similar missions as a UCI Expert.
“I also want to go into rural South Africa where people depend on their bikes to teach them the basics and maybe even show them how to open their own shop.
“I’m not just learning about mechanics at the WCC but also watching how they teach and how to explain things as simply as possible.”
38-year-old Albert Rodriguez Boixados (ESP) threw in his lucrative job as Marketing Manager for an action sports brand to chase his dream of becoming a mechanic. Fed up with the constant travelling and in need of a new challenge, the former mountain bike downhill racer decided to reconvert.
After completing the Level 2 certificate in April, he has returned to the UCI WCC this month to obtain the Level 3 qualification.
The resident of Frankfurt, Germany, explains: “I’ve always loved working on bikes. I am 38 and starting from scratch so I want to learn as much as I can. I worked at the Tour de l’Avenir – full tension! – and have opened my own workshop. I want to offer a service in the area where I live and maybe work at amateur-elite races. The World Cycling Centre is the best place to learn. There is so much going on”
Like his Spanish classmate, American Mike Noonan has also resigned from his job – as a University Associate Professor in Korea – to “do what I really want to do.”
At 44, he now works full time in the workshop he opened two years ago when his wife complained about the 11 bikes sitting in their living room.
“I was always working on friends’ bikes but just kept getting busier and busier. I mainly do repairs and build custom bikes and wheels, and last semester I quit my school to go full time into my shop. I have been working on bikes for 25 years but at the World Cycling Centre I am learning tricks of the trade that I just didn’t know about!”
He has given himself two years to see what happens, and believes he lives in the right spot to develop his business. Quite apart from housing one of the UCI WCC satellite centres, Korea boasts a population that is increasingly enthusiastic about cycling: Korea Randonneurs cycling club alone counts 13,000 members, of which 3000 are active.
“Cycling in Korea is really big,” confirms Noonan.
The UCI World Cycling Centre’s courses for mechanics provides UCI certification at three levels. Separate courses are also held for wheel building.