Zipp News

Back 2.1.2013

Meet Matt The Wrench

Matt McKinney is going to be one of the busiest people at this weekend’s UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, Ky. So we caught up with him before those long hours of washing, wrenching and carrying around beautiful bikes equipped with Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelsets, Zipp Service Course SL bars, stems and seatposts, SRAM Red – 2012 and Quarq power meters.

Weekend job:
Mechanic with Cannondale p/b Team

Day job:
Associate Design Engineer for Zipp/SRAM

First bike shop job:
In college at Marty’s Bike Shop in Muncy, Pa.

Main responsibility at ’cross worlds:
Preparing Kaitie Antonneau’s race bikes

Most stressful aspect about being a pro cyclocross mechanic:
Muddy bikes when it’s below freezing. De-icing components after power washing is risky business. A frozen drivetrain is not ideal, as you might guess.

Most rewarding:
Seeing your athletes performing at their highest level with bikes that you spent hours preparing. I take great pride in knowing that my riders don’t have to question if the bike will work properly – they can concentrate on pedaling (and running).

With the rain (resulting mud) and temperature drop this week in Louisville, how does all that affect how you prepare the bikes:
TOP SECRET. We frequented the Farm & Fleet while at U.S. Nationals in Verona, Wis., this year to get some secret sauce.

Biggest difference in wrenching road vs. cyclocross bikes:
For the road season, once the start gun goes off my job is pretty much done. For Cannondale p/b, we have everything dialed long before the race starts just like a road team. Then it’s an hour of them coming back with a dirty bike every 5 minutes or less. We are running around the pits during the race keeping the bikes in top form.

Cannondale p/b rider you’d trust to rebuild your bike:
Mr. Jamey Driscoll, he is a former shop rat and pretty handy with a wrench.

Confidence you could defeat “Petite Blaireau” Kaitie Antonneau in an arm wrestling match:
I’ve seen pro CX racers arm wrestle before, trust me – it’s NOT pretty. I’m pretty sure she would throw the match to make sure I won though.

No. of times you’ve ridden Ryan Trebon’s bike:
Zero… Ryan rocks out a 930mm seat height and a custom Super-X frame from Cannondale. I don’t think I could even throw a leg over his bike. But I can fit on everyone else’s bike just fine.

How being an engineer at Zipp and a pro mechanic benefits you in each of your jobs:
I see equipment perform (or fail) in extreme conditions and can provide feedback to our product teams about our products and our competitors after a weekend of racing across the country. Being able to “troubleshoot like an engineer” brings value to the race truck when we have a problem. I’m also in a position to help prevent future disasters by seeing design constraints first hand.

One tip you’d give aspiring mechanics:
Find a mentor or two. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside some talented mechanics over the years. From your favorite bike shop to local criterium – there are good wrenches out there, and many are willing to share their knowledge.