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The Pro's Closet: How do you like working here so far?
Nate: It’s fun. Busy, but it’s nice always having something to do. There’s just an endless supply of super nice bikes to work on, which is exciting.
TPC: How long have you been a bike tech?
NH: I've worked in shops as a mechanic for the past three years. But I started wrenching back when I was doing these big bicycle tours as a kid. I started when I was 13 and I did that until I was about 16. Those were really cool trips. My first one we went from Phoenix to Colorado Springs. That was actually the first time I did a century. It was a 145-mile day from the Grand Canyon to Page, Arizona in 120-degree weather.
TPC: Were you self-supported? Is that why you started working on your own bike?
NH: In a way, yeah. We had two trucks with us and they carried all of our stuff, but there was no professional mechanic, so it was basically just a bunch of kids trying to work on and fix their own bikes as much as they could.
TPC: Wait, were there adults riding with you?
NH: Oh yeah, so there were a couple of adults supervising, definitely. But it was really mostly just us kids.
TPC: Is that when you started riding bikes or were you riding before that?
NH: It’s basically when I started getting serious about riding. But I built up my first bike when I was about nine. It came out of a box and I put it together. I’ve just always been into biking.
TPC: What kind of riding do you do now?
NH: So I've been kind of burnt out on road riding, just growing up doing it so much. Now I go mountain biking most of the time or I’ll just be screwing around on my townie.
TPC: What bikes are you riding right now?
NH: Right now I've got a 2019 Cannondale Trigger 3, a pretty big bike. And then I've got a [Trek] Steel District that I’ve modded a lot. It looks nothing like it used to. But it’s a fun around-town bike. It’s really fast.
TPC: What's is your dream bike right now?
NH: I would really like to go to the Yamaguchi Framebuilding School in Rifle. You learn how to build your own bike there. I’d love to get a Yamaguchi singlespeed that way because he makes amazing bikes. I’m pretty happy with my bikes now, but I’d love to get more into the handmade, handbuilt stuff.
TPC: Do you have any experience building bikes?
NH: Not frames, no. So I’d have to learn a lot, which is half the fun.
TPC: Let's talk about your work as a bike tech. What are you really good at or what do you really like doing?
NH: I really like working on full-suspension bikes. They’re a lot of fun, and suspension is always fun to work on. I like to do my own suspension at home too. I also just like being able to bleed brakes really well and that sort of stuff. I’ve gotten really fast at that. I’ve got the system down so that’s made it really fun to do. Truing wheels too — it’s really meditative. Building them too.
TPC: Got any easy maintenance tips for our customers?
NH: Stop cross-chaining.
TPC: Why is that?
NH: Well, it puts a lot of stress on the chain, and a lot of drivetrains, especially older ones aren’t even meant to be in that position. You’re going to get a lot of derailleur rub. It’s going to annoy you, and your bike is going to make all these crunchy noises. There’s no need to stress the components like that, and it’s an easy thing to avoid.
TPC: Since we’re on the subject of drivetrains — Shimano, SRAM, or Campy?
NH: Shimano for road, SRAM for mountain.
TPC: Since you're a mountain biker how about RockShox or Fox?
NH: I’ve always ridden Fox, but the performance of RockShox is super-solid too. I think SRAM (the owner of RockShox) is a good company. I'd be happy with either.
TPC: 29” or 27.5”?
NH: 27.5” for life! It’s more fun.
TPC: So we’ve talked a bit about your bicycle tours. Is that your biggest cycling accomplishment?
NH: I mean I’ve done other stuff, but that first tour when I was 13 — nothing was as challenging. I was a literal child trying to do big cross country stuff. It was a real adventure. I also did RAIN (Ride Across Indiana) once, where you ride across Indiana in one day. That was a good experience too.
TPC: Is that where you’re from, Indiana?
NH: Yeah, Bloomington. It’s the city in the movie “Breaking Away.” I used to play in the quarries from the movie all the time. Oh yeah, I should mention I was a mechanic for Little 500! The race they do at the end. It happens every year. It was really fun growing up around all the cycling culture there.
TPC: So what else do you do for fun when you’re not riding?
NH: I like to cook. And I like rock climbing. These days I’m mostly Trad climbing or soloing the Flatirons. I’ve been doing a lot of Trad climbing in Eldorado Canyon. It’s such a beautiful little canyon.
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