Trade School

Is there too much emphasis put into education for computer tech, business, or other such “desk jockey” type jobs? Aren’t hands-on, skilled positions also necessary for society to function? Or are we all aspiring to make our million sitting in front of a monitor? Charles at Wright Bros alludes to this discrepancy at times. His entire point wasn’t included in the PI article, but the notion that more people should concentrate more on vocational trade skills is an interesting one. I agree for the most part, I’d only like to see it go deeper into the bike realm. I’d like to see the trades really accept the bicycle mechanic as one of it’s own. Like a carpenter, an auto mechanic, or an electrician—all professions that necessarily benefit society—a bike mechanic is a skilled technician that, as the price of gas steadily increases and hopefully more people begin riding bikes for transportation and delivery, will be a necessary component to his or her neighbors and fellow citizens.


This is part of the reason I intend on attending United Bicycle Institute next month. Not neglecting the fact that I have learned extensively under Charles’ tutelage at Wright Bros, rather my session at UBI will be to fill in some of the gaps that might remain, gain a different, comparative, perspective to bicycle mechanics, and to go for a certification in the industry. Maybe it’ll even give me an extra shot of confidence, who knows?

The article in a recent issue of Momentum mentions a bit of the idea I’m talking about. (Check out the Winterborne Bicycle Institute.) Like the article says, being a bike mechanic is not really a trade, not today. In my mind, until there is more acceptance of bikes in our culture, like the editor says people valuing their bikes as vehicles [a mindset that I feel is changing, albeit glacially] it will be tough for this vocation to take off as an accepted trade. Personally, I love it and want nothing more than to continue with it, learning more everyday. I’m being an optimist in this, I think the necessary acceptance will arrive, and I’ll be happy to lend a hand repairing bikes far into the future.

Deciding between UBI or Barnett’s wasn’t too difficult, it’s debatable which is the better school but UBI being closer geographically was the clincher (although we’ve found out that getting there from Seattle is far more difficult than we imagined). Both I’m sure are worthwhile institutions. I’d like to attend a frame-building class sometime soon; UBI has a pretty well known program for this skill, but recently I’ve been hearing mention of the Yamaguchi Framebuilding School, also in Colorado like Barnett’s.

Wish me luck, I’m really looking forward to it, partly because it’ll also be a vacation of sorts. James and I will be heading down to Portland for the awesome Filmed by Bike film festival and then we’ll make our way down to Ashland on Sunday to start classes on Monday; should be a rawking way to start the school.

The Doctor is in…

I’ve heard working as an orthopedic surgeon is oftentimes compared with working as a carpenter. Joining bones instead of boards. The time I had some pins in my hand from my broken thumb, having them removed sure felt like I was on the floor of Home Depot or something. Simply pulling them straight from my flesh (and bone) with a pair of pliers wasn’t exactly my idea of “surgery”.


Well, as we all can all probably recall working on bikes has been compared to working on bodies; kind of like being a doctor. Having a busted bike is like being a patient, especially if you don’t know what’s wrong with it.

In my short time at the shop, I’ve seen enough worried and confused faces to know that your bike malfunctioning is more than just a broken machine, it’s a injured best friend. This is why you’ve come to Admissions: those first twenty feet inside the shop is the examination room, the triage area. This is where we take a look and hear about the injured bike’s symptoms. “Your brakes aren’t working, we’ll take a look, is there anything else we should examine? Any problems it exhibits while riding? Any issues with shifting?” Maybe just a check-up, “If anything major crops up, we’ll give you a call.” Not to worry, the next step for your friend is the work stand: the ICU if you will. If you’re lucky there’s room over in the “waiting room” near the coffee machine and the beer fridge; and there’s never any need for turning your head and coughing.

“What’s the prognosis, Dr Moore?” Symptoms, examination, triage, diagnosis, ICU, snapping on the rubber gloves! How many bike shops think about bikes this way I wonder?

This isn’t a new idea obviously, huh?

Considering the package we received at the shop the other day by mistake from Group Health, maybe we’re not the only ones confusing ourselves with doctors: “Incorrect bike fit making your back hurt, don’t adjust—medicate with opiates!”

And as for those self-medicaters out there, part two to wheel-building is definitely coming around soon. It is actually in the works!

Edited 3.14:
Just remembered one more connection to the medical field; counting out spokes and especially nipples always makes me feel like I’m a pharmacist.