My name is Kate Sage, I am from Toronto, Canada, but I live in Chico California now. I prefer she/her and they/them pronouns.
I attended UBI February 11th – 22nd 2019. This was my first year applying, after working for over 10 years in the industry it was the first time I was eligible to apply!
What impacted me most was the immersive experience. First, it was the simple fact of going to bike school. For two weeks it was nothing but the bare bone facts of bikes without any of the drama I encounter on a daily basis working in a male dominated industry. This reconnected me with my original love of bikes and why I chose the cycling industry for my career in the first place. Secondly, living and studying with other bike nerds WHO LOOKED LIKE ME blew my mind way open. I had never been in a room full of folks like me discussing bike specs on equal terms. I realized this experience of being surrounded by folks who look and think the same as you is what cis men experience all the time in the cycling community. More than that, this experience helped me imagine what a more diverse and equitable cycling industry could look like.
“This reconnected me with my original love of bikes and why
I chose the cycling industry for my career in the first place.”
The most helpful things I learned from UBI were mechanical principles as they apply to bicycles. There were amazing techniques such as the importance of using torque wrenches and surprisingly simple but handy tips like using an allen wrench as a measuring tool, but the mechanical principles taught me to problem solve complex technical issues. This drastically enhanced my confidence. Whereas before when I didn’t know the answer to a tech question I would pass it on to someone else, now I have the knowhow to work through the unknown.
“The training we received was focused on modern bike parts,
but the principles we learned gave us the tools to work through even
the oldest, most obscure bike problem.”
Becoming a certified bike tech helped me with my confidence to pursue greater responsibility at work. While I was away at UBI we took over the Performance Bike and Nashbar websites. When I returned to work I immediately put my UBI Certification to use by training our customer service team to improve our quality of service for Performance and Nashbar customers. I’ve been producing product knowledge videos and handling social media for these sites as well. UBI provided me with invaluable technical knowledge and confidence in my abilities which helped me to reach beyond what I thought was previously possible for me.
I know for many of us it can be hard and feel uncomfortable to “toot our own horns” so to speak. If you find yourself caught in self-doubt or feeling intimidated, try this: write as though you are sharing your love of bikes to a good friend, one who also loves bikes. Forget that you are applying for a scholarship, and just gush about all the things you love to do with bikes. This will help you get something down on paper which you can then clean up for the application, but most importantly, who you are and your love of bikes will shine through.
If you’re on the fence about applying, DO IT! This was a life changing experience and an opportunity not to be missed. My time at UBI was incredibly profound and inspring, you deserve to have that experience too.
“…you deserve to have that experience too.”