Mechanic Monday: Kevin Marriner Jr of Cape Island Bikes talks life as a race mechanic

Produced in collaboration with the Professional Bicycle Mechanic’s AssociationPeopleForBikes and Abbey Bike Tools, the Mechanic Monday series will eventually culminate in one lucky participant receiving an all expenses paid trip to the 2019 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, plus an exclusive prize package from Abbey Bike Tools and a year’s subscription the print edition of CyclingIndustry.News.

Wherever you are in the world, you can nominate a mechanic worthy of a profile. Simply head here.

Kevin Marriner is a mechanic at Cape Island Bikes in Cape May, New Jersey, and he’s also a USAC-licensed race mechanic. Being a professional mechanic was something he “just fell into” after working full-time as a photographer, but we suspect there was more than just a happy coincidence that led him to our industry. Here is Kevin’s story, in his own words…

“I’ve been involved in cycling ever since I was a kid on a BMX bike. In those days I was always on a bike; I was also very curious about how things worked, so I attempted to fix any issue with my bike before I took it into the shop (after I inevitably ran into an issue).

“There was a period when I stopped riding during middle school and high school, then I was involved in a motorcycle accident 2 years after high school, so I started riding again to try and keep my weight in check after the accident. I rode rode bikes off and on for the next four years and then in 2012 I rode across the country (with Bike and Build), and during that trip I fixed many of the issues that arose with my friends’ bikes and kept everyone moving.

“When I got back from that trip I went back to working full time as a photographer and training over the winter. The next spring, I started racing road. The newspaper I was a freelance photographer for was going through some changes, so I was looking for some work to offset the reduction in assignments. My friend was the mechanic at a bike shop inside of a surf shop and needed some help over the summer, so he asked me to come on with him. I enjoyed the job, but a month and a half after I started there, he moved to another state. I was left to fend for myself. The owner of the surf shop and I did not get along very well, and I was offered a job at another shop (the one I used to take my BMX bike to as a kid, no less) which I took.

“That is where I fell in love with being a bike mechanic. The owner of that shop taught me everything he knew. We spent the next four years working together, learning from each other, and bouncing ideas off each other.

“My favorite moment in cycling ever has to be the day my 30 friends and I reached the Pacific Ocean after having ridden almost 4,000 miles together. I don’t think I will ever achieve something that meaningful ever again. My favorite memory from being a bike mechanic was the time I spent at the Olympic Training Center during the Race Mechanic Clinic.

“To the aspiring mechanic, I would say to take every opportunity to further yourself or enhance your knowledge. Go to every continuing education clinic you can, work the pit at a race, volunteer with a NCAA team, [and] learn something new every single day. You never know when the most innocuous piece of knowledge will come in handy.”

Kevin’s advice to aspiring mechanics is something that even the most veteran among us should take to heart; as our industry grows and changes, it is more important than ever for each of us to try to learn something new every single day. Our profession, our industry, and our selves will only be better for it.