Lindsey DiGiovanni, a bicycle mechanic, says it’s rare to see women in the back room of a bike shop, but she has a loyal clientele of cyclists — mostly male — at Cycle Loft in Burlington. “Some people are surprised when they ask to speak to a mechanic and I show up,” said DiGiovanni, 36. “But once they realize that I know what I’m talking about, I earn their respect.”
So what are you working on now?
I just built up a cyclocross bike, which is a bike that can be used for on- or off-road riding. I set up a couple of wheels for it and modified a few components.
What is the dumbest thing you’ve seen someone do to a bike?
People put forks on backward all the time or put handlebars upside down. They’ll inflate a tube before trying to put them into the tire, so the tubes are like huge balloons that won’t fit. The most common mistake is putting tons of lubricant on the chain, which creates a very dirty drivetrain.
Is it true that most bike mechanics tend not to read manuals?
Some have that reputation, although that doesn’t mean we’re relying on guesswork. We’ll ask a fellow mechanic or research it by watching a video or searching for answers online.
How did you go from sous chef to bike mechanic?
In the restaurant industry, I was working with my hands, making sure all the equipment was up and running. I figured I could parlay my love for bike riding and my mechanical abilities into bicycle repair. I started here on the sales floor so I could learn a lot more about the products and then sent myself to a bike institute in Colorado, where I learned everything from suspension tuning to drivetrain components.
How many bikes in your stable?
I probably have about five or six, including a 29-inch full-suspension mountain bike; a 26-inch hardtail mountain bike [which has no rear suspension], the first real mountain bike I bought myself; a single-speed steel commuter that I’ve dressed up with fenders and rack; a cyclocross bike; and an old antique bike that I love to death. It’s an old Raleigh that I pulled out of the garbage and refurbished.
What’s your favorite quick fix trick?
If you puncture your tire and need to get somewhere to get it fixed, a short-term solution is the dollar-bill trick. Put a new tube in, then fold up a dollar bill and place it where the tire is damaged. The dollar bill will keep the tube from bulging through the hole or cut, and you should be able to make it home.
Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.