It was standing-room-only last night at the Rapha Cycle Club NYC in Manhattan for the Fastest Bike Mechanic in NYC Competition. The raucous crowd of cycling enthusiasts, racers and FOMs (friends of the mechanics) cheered four contestants, selected through an online vote, for the coveted Rapha Pink Wrench award and other prizes.
The challenge: Build a bike from the ground up using identical sets of components donated by various sponsors. Each mechanic started off with a frame on a stand and his personal tools laid out on a work table.
At the sound of the starting bell, the mechanics raced to the back of the shop to retrieve their components, then got down to bike-building, sweating under the lights, but mostly maintaining poise in front of the highly engaged and vocal spectators.
36 minutes later, the winner, who was required to ride outside the store to prove the worthiness of his build, then ring a giant cow bell on re-entry, held his winning bike aloft to the applause of an admiring crowd. The victor, Jose Medina, 34, had established an early lead in the competition. He has been a mechanic at Sid’s Bikes in Chelsea for about a year and a half, and says his training began more than 25 years ago when he was a boy in the Dominican Republic.
Mr. Median, who completed the task in 38 minutes under the final finisher’s time, was self-effacing when asked about the margin of his victory. Larry Wallach of Sid’s says that’s typical: “Jose’s the nicest guy and a great mechanic.” Mr. Medina, who builds up to 15 bikes a day during the busy summer season, displayed a calm intensity throughout his build, wrestling the mechanical beast at one moment, then deftly playing its components like instruments the next. He said he will display his pink wrench at Sid’s.
All photos by velojoy.