Where else are you going to meet people like these?

“What do you do?” It’s that stereotypically American question. Does what we do define us? Hell no! But aren’t we conditioned from the earliest age to identify our hopes, dreams and aspirations with a vocation? Mom told me I could be an astronaut or a fireman or the President of the United States if I wanted to. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, you’re grown up. What are you?

Whatever your occupation is, it is the thing to which you dedicate over 50% of the waking hours of adulthood. Many of us have gone to school and spent scads of borrowed dollars on studying whatever subject got us that first job. It’s the thing we decided to do, or fell into, or lucked upon, but it’s a big chunk of our lives that can satisfy or torment. Don’t we know that guy? The one who loves or hates his job with such passion, such earnestness that it inspires us to find true happiness in our own pursuits. Alas, I was the sad guy once. But that’s the past – I saw the writing on the wall and made a leap to the other side. It’s not all roses, but man it has its perks.

Sharing a brew with the man behind the movie Klunkerz: Billy Savage. If you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to Netflix post-haste.

Engineering pays well. Even so, the engineering I did made me want to drive the subcompact rental car I was forced to drive weekly into a ditch at high speed. So I made the best of it: I bought cool bikes and gear, spent my free time (and time I should have been working) reading forums, reviews, and other fine internet publications about bikes. When 5:00 came I was out like a shot to ride, wrench, and do anything but freakin’ engineering. But as I said at the beginning of the post our culture places emphasis on who you are by what you do. So I wanted to make a change. I loved bikes, why not get paid (much less) to make a career from them?

It don’t pay too well, but the view sure is nice

As told in an earlier true confession I lucked into my first job in the bike industry. What I didn’t mention is the pain. I took a substantial pay cut when I moved into the bike business. My favorite saying about that goes: “Do you know how to make a small fortune in the bike industry? Start with a large one.” Unfortunately it can be very true. Bike companies know us too well. We chafe at the 9 to 5 grind, the Dockers, the cube neighbor droning on about their cat’s adorable shenanigans. Dangle a no-dress-code-ever office environment and cheap bike parts in front of us and we go all to jelly in the salary negotiations. Now my boss’s boss wears shants and flip flops daily and lunchtime is spent shredding trails that are tended by a full time employee dedicated to keeping the berms sculpted.

So at the risk of laying out an epic brag, here’s what I love about working in the bike industry:

1. Exotic travel and a company card for karaoke nights in Taichung City

2. Employee pricing on everything

3. Vendors insisting that I try their latest and greatest carbon fiber doodads

4. An office with shower facilities

5. Desk-side bike storage

6. Fully equipped bike shop at your disposal

7. A cafeteria with subsidized healthy meal options

8. The opportunity to ride all over the world

9. Access to trade shows, those orgies of bad behavior and bike-overload

10. Most important: sharing my days with people who share my passions, made their own sacrifices, and consider themselves lucky every day to be doing something they truly love.

Are you ready to trade in your paycheck for the bike industry lifestyle? Tell us about your dream job in the comments section below!

# Comments

  • trek7k

    Great post. Wearing shants to work is definitely a plus in my book. 🙂

    Generally “bike people” are fun to hang around which can make 8-hour workdays sail by.

    I also know a few people who found working in the bike industry can take the some of the fun out of riding. It’s sorta like once something becomes your job (or at least feels like a job) it’s not as exciting anymore. That probably has more to do with corporate culture than anything else – if your (bike) job is a grind you might end up avoiding the saddle on the weekends.

  • kyroush

    Word! Trying to become a professor so I can have ENTIRE… SUMMERS… TO… RIDE 😀
    (and not the research type prof, the flip flop wearing, beard growing, cool teachin type… which puts me in a lower pay bracket for sure). But this article is stellar. I was going to be an actuary (which pays great, low stress environment), but I just couldn’t do the 8 hour spreadsheet grind. I like the idea of having flexible hours which allow me to ride. I don’t know if I’d have to guts to throw it all out for the bike industry, but I definitely agree if you don’t love what you do, do what you love!

    Kentucky Roush

  • AK_Dan

    Nice wriite. #10 would be one of the best perks.
    In Alaska there is a saying that if you asked a commercial fisherman what he would do if he won a million dollars he’d reply with- ‘fish till it was all gone’. Its all about having a passion for what your doing, not the size of the paycheck.

  • dozzerboy

    #2 and #10 are by far my favorite. And every other Friday 😆

    I also love having access to my shops demo fleet whenever I want for free!

  • mtbgreg1

    I’m not even officially in the industry yet, but I’m already starting to get the feeling that trek7k referred to…

    But even if riding does feel a little bit like work, it’s the funnest work I’ve EVER done!

  • eastwood

    My wife and I are playing with the idea of getting into the business when we move. Some days I think I would be perfectly happy wrenching on bikes all day – and I am in Education with summers off already!!!

  • SherpaOutpost

    I worked as a bike mechanic for many years in Pennsylvania, Telluride, and Fort Collins, then became a hydraulic engineer doing flood modeling, geomorphology, and stream restoration after finishing a masters’s at Colorado State. I love my job, but I recently founded an internet startup that will help others make money doing what they love, working as independent adventure guides. I’d really like to shift my lifestyle back toward spending more time outside and less time in front of my computer.

    I’m currently recruiting people to run private guided day trips and instructional clinics. Sound interesting? Check it out: http://www.SherpaOutpost.com


  • graymond127

    This is very interesting, as an engineering student trying decide which path to take with my career.

    I made an account solely for the purpose of getting in contact with you… I’d really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you more about working in the industry! I couldn’t figure out if there was a way to send messages to other users…

    • graymond127

      hmm… my emails keep bouncing back from that address

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