UCI World Cycling Centre: Trainee mechanics benefit from new high-level course
Yuan Hui Dong, Angel Garcia and Miguel Ocampo come from very different backgrounds but are united by their desire to become top-class bicycle mechanics. This week the Chinese, Spanish and Colombian mechanics finish an intensive three-week course that has added to their already considerable experience in the profession.
Launched in 2012, the UCI WCC Mechanics School originally offered an eight-week course for mechanics wishing to upgrade their skills. This year, with the renovation of the centre’s workshop and the appointment of a full-time Mechanic Tutor Jean-Louis Guihard- -Thébault, the programme has been expanded. In addition to the Level 1 and 2 courses, mechanics who already have considerable experience can register for the more advanced Level 3 course, which is held over three weeks.
Yuan Hui Dong (China) and Angel Garcia (Spain) are back at the UCI WCC after completing the Level 1 and 2 qualifications in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Valuable work experience between courses
UCI WCC Manager Mechanics Alex Roussel said both had progressed considerably since completing the initial course.
“You don’t become a mechanic in 8 weeks and there are some things you can only learn properly by working out in the field,” says Roussel. “That is why we recommend that our students get some work experience between completing the Level 2 certificate and coming to the Level 3 course.”
That experience, Dong has gained in the last 18 months from working in a bike shop and teaching other young mechanics in Beijing. His thirst to expand his knowledge further has brought him back to the UCI WCC.
“I wanted to learn even more and at a higher level,” explains Dong. “This job is very important to me and I am still learning a lot. When I go back I will continue teaching.”
Spanish mechanic Angel Garcia completed the Level 1 and 2 course exactly one year ago and since then has worked for different teams which has seen him travel to Vietnam and South Korea.
The former sales manager does not regret giving up his corporate career to dedicate himself to his new profession as a mechanic. His aim now is to find a stable position in his home city of Girona.
“I feel so free now and I am very happy. I would like to work with one of the professional teams based in Girona, and also want to start my own academy to teach Level 1 & 2 mechanics.”
From civil engineer to bike mechanic
The third participant on the course is Colombian Miguel Ocampo who, like Garcia, decided to take a dramatic change in career, giving up his work as a civil engineer to try his hand as a mechanic. With no previous experience, he arrived at the UCI WCC several weeks before Dong and Garcia to complete the Level 1 and 2 certificate.
“I’ve decided to take a break from consultancy engineering for a while and start a business in the bicycle industry,” he says. “I’ve always liked cycling, enjoyed the sport and now I want to work with bicycles. It’s a life change that is both exciting and frightening. But I am happy with the decision, and even more so now that I have gained confidence at the UCI WCC.
“This centre is amazing. The mechanics working here have huge experience, the installations and the workshop are big and all the tools are at hand. It’s a paradise for mechanics."
WCC Mechanic Tutor Guihard- -Thébault explains that on the advanced course, mechanics work with top quality, high-end products that require more precision, such as electronic gearing systems and assembly of carbon wheels. Outside experts are brought in to give detailed lessons on specialist topics such as mountain bike suspension and bike fitting. The mechanics also follow the centre’s athletes at road and track races.
Guihard- -Théabult said his three students had a very good overall level: “There is a positive dynamic within the group which pushes them to improve. They all have different strengths and help each other if one is finding something difficult, despite the language barrier.”
Language barrier? Angel Garcia does not see that as a problem: “The main language for a mechanic is the hands,” he says.