A bicycle mechanics’ genesis

My first bicycle mechanics course I made at Saronno (Lombardia, Italy), in April 2016. To be honest, I didn’t even know where Saronno was.

I got back in the saddle in June 2014, after almost 20 years that I didn’t pedal after a life to ride only in the scooter. I needed a change in my life and I did something totally the same as I was at the time: I went to buy a bike. I was so convinced that it would not last long that I trivially bought the one that cost less after the clerk had taken half an hour to explain the differences between the various bikes.

“I take that!”
“But that’s no good, it’s a mountain bike, she needs a city bike…”
“It’s all right because in a week it’s still, and I don’t want to spend too much money, I know myself.”

The next day I went to work by bike: it took me 10 minutes to go and an hour and 40 minutes to come back. I lived on the Genoese hills. In five years I changed home, sold the scooter, made more than 15000 km by bike and, even more interestingly, I opened my bicycle workshop. I definitely did not know myself as well as I thought. It’s a very long story and in this post I’d like to tell you a little bit.

The desire to learn how to take care of my bike was born immediately after I got back. Compared to the scooter, the bike gave me the idea of accessibility, to be able to get by hand, and so I started looking for someone to train me. In my city, there were few and they all said no, I don’t have time, I don’t want to. So I started looking online, and after about a year and a half, I met Bikeitalia and the basic mechanics’ course in Saronno.

I could bring my bike and spare parts, I could learn directly on my vehicle. But at the time I was not travelling yet (I started thanks to the bike) and I did not have many budget: sleeping outside, leaving the day before, everything seemed impossible to me. My best friend, who is no coincidence is my best friend, took me to Saronno, she was around all day another friend waiting for me to finish the course and came back me home.

I just wanted to do a basic mechanics course to travel serenely, not be totally helpless if something happened. I have made them all: advanced bicycle mechanics, wheels course, suspension course, hydraulic brakes and biomechanics course. Each course was a weekend around Northern Italy (the Monza head office got later). I built my own study’s course: there wasn’t a school or a training course and I created it. Each course wanted to leave on Friday and go back on Sunday, sleep outside and ride.

So I learned to take care of my bike and I became bicycle mechanics (cycle-mechanics) and traveller on a bicycle (cycle-traveler)

It was at the advanced bicycle mechanics course, Peschiera del Garda December 2016, which I thought for the first time to make a job. Since time I was looking for my way for my own personal reasons, but the doubts were many. And even the choice to make the bicycle mechanics was designed and weighed, suffered, created by nought.

I’m living in Genoa, which by definitions seems to be a not-ridable city (I can now affirm with certainty that it’s a legend without foundation). Besides, I’ve never had big money on my side and, I admit, being the only woman in an almost exclusively male universe scared me. At the courses, except that basic one, I have always been the only woman to participate.

At a certain point in my journey, the Masterclass was created, which in its first edition consisted of 12 lessons, every Monday from January to March, in Monza. I decided to sign up, despite all the courses I had done and with the fear that it was a repetition of things I already knew. It was the last stop after I would have changed jobs.

Looking back now, I realize I made a great effort. Except the first and last Monday when I left and returned directly from Genoa, all the others I stopped by one of my cousins: I went on Sunday and returned home Monday, sometimes with the bike after other times no. With the passing of Monday, I gained confidence in myself, I finally understood that I wanted to do the cycle-mechanics and I studied what I needed to do the business plan of my future job.

Contrary to what I thought, the Masterclass wasn’t the mere repetition of everything acquired in previous courses, but a further study. Moreover, I had the pleasure of starting this journey in 2016 with Omar as teacher and conclude in 2018 with Alberto.

In June 2018 I ended the working relationship for the company I was working with, in August I opened the vat and on December 10th I opened my repair shop bicycle, also bucofficina (union of two Italian word buco+officina, buco=hole, means space very small): 4,7 mq of the workshop at Genoa.
All activities in the area are linked to the sale and/or rental of bikes. I only make repairs, of all types of bicycles. And, as far as I know, I’m the only who make this job in my city or the only one who has done it professionally.

My first project wasn’t this: I was afraid of opening a permanent position, I also believed in the unfounded legends that see Genoa as not bike friendly city, and I’m happy to have been denied and to have been brave enough to try.

I thought to had finished with the courses until Bikeitalia throwed those on bike mobility, my great passion thanks to the bicycle. I couldn’t resist and I also attended these two.As happened for biomechanics course, I don’t stop investigating. I’ll never do the biomechanics in my life, I don’t have the necessary skills, but I’m a curious girl and I love studying.

Not by chance, my alias is La Ciclista Ignorante (The Ignorant Cyclist: literal translation for explanatory purposes only).

In a world where everyone knows everything, I keep my head down and I continue to learn because if you want to be a real professional in the life, you should never stop to growing and improving. Does this mean that I will continue to do courses? If new ones come out, they can interest me, why not.

The post’s Italian edition (slightly different) was born for Bikeitalia website. I decided to translate it to study obviously and also because it seems like a good starting point for the English edition of the blog.

As I have often said, a course is just a starting point. You don’t become bicycle mechanics after just one course but it can be the beginning of a journey towards a new career. It’s undeniable the importance of the practice, it’s undeniable that since I opened the business I had to solve many things with intuition and, as I learned from the courses attended with a careful spirit of observation.

And anyway, to deliver the work to my first customer, I reopened the notes on the wheel course. Practice and theory are a winning combination, a good professional is such when he combines these two aspects.