Liv: When did you start working for Liv Racing? What does your job entail?
Paige: I began working with Liv Racing on the UCI World Cup circuit in May of 2021. My main job description is to keep the bikes finely tuned for the athletes who are racing. If they don’t need to worry about the condition of their bike and can trust that it will function perfectly, then they can focus on their race. I work with the athletes to adjust things on their bikes and make changes as needed. I am usually there on the course throughout the race, helping with any mechanicals that may arise. Being there for the team during these big race weekends also means helping in any way needed. There are so many logistics that go into a successful race. The bikes are just a part of the picture. Being on the support crew is putting the team's needs first and doing any number of odd jobs on any given day to help the athletes and the brand show up in the best way possible.
Liv: What is the best thing about working as a professional mechanic?
Paige: Mechanic work is a nice balance of physical and mental stimulation. You’re on your feet, using your hands, and problem-solving all the time. Fixing things for people is really rewarding and you also get to interact with so many people that share your hobby!
Liv: What is the hardest thing about working as a professional mechanic?
Paige: As far as skilled trades go, “Bike Mechanic” is not a high-earning profession when compared to other trades. Once you accept that your wealth will come in other forms (like bikes, bike components, and quality of life from biking often), then it is a dream job!
Liv: What are some of the barriers for women trying to enter this field?
Paige: This is such a deep discussion when you start breaking down the reasons why women are underrepresented in the profession. Women in skilled trades in general only make up 3% so this imbalance spans all the manual labor-based professions! I think cultural gender norms and an education system that stigmatizes “blue-collar” work is a barrier to women becoming bike mechanics or other skilled trade professionals.
Liv: What do you think the industry can do to get more women working in bike shops?
Paige: I think women need to be invited in more! Liz Walker went out of her way to recruit women mechanics for the Liv athletes. More shops, brands, and teams should do the same. It can be so hard to even get a toe in the mechanic pit as a woman, especially if you lack experience. Young boys on the other hand get recruited to do odd jobs around the shop, despite their lack of experience and are then quickly mentored to do more and more advanced jobs. They become the future bike mechanics and maintain the status quo of male-dominated mechanic pits. I think more shops and brands need to have women-specific gatherings to promote cycling, but also encourage more women and girls to start using tools! As more young women embrace biking, perhaps more will end up working in the profession.
Liv: What are your tips for making bike shops friendlier to women, in general?
Paige: I feel like the more women working in a shop, the more welcoming it feels to women. Having bikes and gear that cater to the needs of women shows that we belong in your store. I think having posters and ads with women athletes getting rad instead of just men is also nice. Also: Women ride nights! Women demo days! Women maintenance clinics! Invite women in.
Liv: What advice would you give to other women looking to become bicycle mechanics?
Paige: If you love bikes and you are interested in repairing them, whether as a hobby for your personal bikes or as a professional in the industry, I recommend getting your hands dirty as often as possible! You can volunteer at community bike shops, sign up for clinics, tear your own bikes apart and put them back together. You can go straight to a shop and get a job in some capacity and hope to gradually work into a mechanic role by showing interest and jumping on opportunities to learn. If you are looking for a more structured and streamlined education though, there are a few schools now that will teach you the basics. Often there will be scholarships for women available to encourage women to enroll. There may even be women-only classes. This is a quick way to get down the vocab and the basics and will help you get that foot in the pit at your local shop. At the very least, it will make you more confident working on your own bikes. You’ll gain a sense of what tools you will need and get a feel for how much you enjoy working on bikes! Shops are not the only place to work as a mechanic but I do feel like you get amazing on-the-job training when you are working on bikes of all types each day. It exposes you to such a great variety of repairs and different components.
Here are some bike mechanic courses in the United States: