Your Saturday Daily News Digest

by Mark Zalewski

August 6, 2016

In Saturday’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Terpstra takes win at Dwars door het Hageland; McCabe continues young rider wins at Utah; Haas wins Burgos, stage 4; Ezquerra solos to win in strange Portugal stage; Henderson leaving Lotto-Soudal but is committed to extending career; Frank Schleck announces pending retirement; Sep Vanmarcke inks contract with Cannondale-Drapac, boosts team’s Classics potential; Adrien Costa: A mind that moves mountains; Meet the only female mechanic on the Pro Road Tour; Jess Varnish on decision to speak-up about British Cycling issues; Meet Laos’ entry in the Olympic road race; Cyclist saves man from jumping off bridge; Woman assaulted for cycling too slow; Rwandan cycling team movie in the works; 2016 Japan Cup preview; Team GB on the Rio road race; Stybar films wet conditions inside the athlete village

Meet the only female mechanic on the Pro Road Tour

by VeloClub

The team zone before a race is a hectic place to be. The designated parking lot is filled with team RVs, cars, and hundreds of people milling about. The riders are going through their pre-race routine, team staff are shuttling bikes and gear around, camera crews and reporters are trying to get some quick interviews, and fans crowd around the race favourite’s RV hoping for a mere glace of their idol. In the midst of this organised chaos, one mechanic stands out as she goes through her usual pre-race duties. In her black, team-issued polo she’s easily lost in the parking lot crowd, but what makes her stand out is that she is…well, a woman. Yes, even at a professional women’s race a female head mechanic is a rare sight. So unique in fact, that she is the sole female mechanic on the Pro Road Tour.

Her name is Andrea Smith and she is the team mechanic for the Colavita Pro Cycling Team, a team that boasts an all-female staff. Here is an excerpt from the feature:

Smith has been a mechanic since 2004, a career that was sparked simply by working on her own bike.

“I was a runner in high school and college, and got into mountain biking as a form of cross training,” said Smith. “I had purchased a new mountain bike, which I at the time thought was super expensive. And so, since I spent all that money, I wanted to learn how to take care of it. That’s what started my interest in bike mechanics –working on my own bike.”

Choosing wrenching over her degree in athletic training, Smith took a job at the outdoor retail store REI.

“At that point I thought I knew a lot about working on bikes but really, all my training came at REI,” said Smith who would stay with REI for six years before moving on to other bike shops.

All the while, she was always the only female mechanic.

“At REI, there were women doing the purchasing or retail but there weren’t women wrenching on bikes like I was,” Smith said. “But my coworkers and management staff have always been extremely supportive. They always believed in my ability and my gender played no part. It was more the perspective of the customers.”

“Customers would call or ask to speak to a mechanic or the manager of the shop and then I’d come out and they be surprised; “Oh I wasn’t expecting a woman.” You have to break that barrier with them, one on one. We never ran into any bad situations or anything. I only ever had one customer who didn’t want me working on their bike. One in six years, out of thousands of interactions, isn’t bad.”

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