Name: Sarah Hansing
Occupation: I dabble in a few jobs, among them “Destroyer of Unrealistic Expectations,” Harbinger of Doom, and Unicorn Tamer. OK, ok, ok…fine. I’m a bicycle mechanic (but it’s practically the same thing.)
Hometown: Suppose I just say the place that feels most like home: Ellicott City, MD.
Number of years mountain biking: 13 years since my very first go at it.
First mountain bike: Schwinn Homegrown.
Current main bike: Oh wow. That’d be either my GT Xizang singlespeed, or my Bontrager Ti singlespeed or my 9.9 singlespeed. I feel uncomfortable with this question. Sort of like I’m getting caught cheating. (What if one of my bikes reads this?)
Riding style: Singlespeed,’nuf said.
Favorite trail: Avalon. Patapsco State Park, Ellicott City MD. The land of milk and honey: logs piles, rock gardens, stream crossings, ridiculous root-balls, I-wish-I-were-dead technical climbs, gamble-and-lose downhills, humility, victory, and sometimes (seriously. this really happens…) sometimes people and by “people” I mean “adults” dressed as ninjas, witches, or medieval knights, just rucking about in the woods in full costume, fighting imaginary gnomes and dragons and other ninjas and such. Awesome.
How did you get started mountain biking?
Accidentally. You see, I had this great idea of mountain biking through Europe (yet another in the series of Brilliant Plans Designed to Help Me Avoid Collegeâ„¢ ).
So, I went into the closest shop I knew of, and promptly fell in love with a shiny mountain bike. Which I bought. You know, to ride through Europe. Even though I had never mountain biked before. Or been to Europe.
I hucked that bike off of some sweet curbs, thank you very much. And of course, I always rode through people’s lawns, instead of on the sidewalks.
Sometimes, I was so brazen as to ride into the picnic table area at the local city park,
and ride down the pavilion’s two cement stairs (three, if you count that dirt lip just before the first stair).
As my trip to Europe drew closer, I was pretty sure I was a badass mountain biker. Pretty sure, that is, until about a month before I left on my adventure. I began working at the very shop where I had purchased my shiny bike. And I was taken to something my “friends” at the shop called “singletrack”.
Where I promptly crashed.
And continued to crash.
And I hated my friends for trying to kill me.
And I couldn’t wait to go again.
And I couldn’t wait to make all of my unsuspecting, non-biking friends try it, too.
How did you get involved in racing?
I was, once again, tricked by the guys I worked with at my shop.
Describe your main race bike.
Singlespeed. Titanium. Hardtail. 34×18, sometimes x17. Custom (via yours truly) XTR outboard bearing singlespeed specific crank. White Industries ENO hub and freewheel. Fox 80X fork if I can help it (single-speeders best friend). Thomson stem, seatpost Bontrager XXX Lite carbon bars. Profile shorty bar ends.
What’s your biggest racing accomplishment to date?
I guess winning the Singlespeed State Championship in Maryland and getting on the podium at the Wisconsin State Championship in the same season.
Any major racing goals for the future?
Singlespeed World’s again, someday.
Biggest disappointment in a race?
Singlespeed World Championship, State College, PA. 11th place was really heartbreaking. I just wanted to drive the damn go-karts, and I barely missed 10th place (and the chance to race the go-karts).
But… I will NEVER slack off in a race again. Stupid random bystander… only 5 chicks in front of me, eh? Or 10 of them?! Is that what you meant?! I don’t want to talk about it anymore (…just wanted to drive the go karts).
Give us a brief run-down on your bike industry experience, and tell us a bit about your current gig.
Bike shop mechanic: 13yrs. Started as a minion at Elkhart Bicycle and Fitness, found my way to a great shop on the East Coastâ€”Race Pace Bicyclesâ€”a fantastic shop, and where I really fell in love with the industry. With wrenching. With riding. with two wheels and possibilities. Managed shop/wrenched: Bike Doctor of Annapolis.
Inside Sales Rep at the Big T, briefly. Mechanic on retainer for a few people here and there, here being US, there being France. Occasional contributor for Dirt Rag.
Currently, I’m wrenching for a great shop in Pasadena, CA: Pasadena Cyclery. I was fortunate to find this shop and all of the personalities it employs; great dynamics amongst a group of vastly different employees makes work… less work-like. Couldn’t ask for much better, really.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the industry?
Varietyâ€”be it in the people I meet as customers and co-workers, or in the problems I solve as a mechanic. And of course the machine that is the industry itself (what a small world the bicycle industry is, really.) I feel very fortunate; grateful for the experiences and adventures I’ve had, and for the people I have met because of the bike industry.
Any hobbies, or something you do to relax?
I suppose reading is the closest “relax” thing, although cooking (or “kitchen mayhem” as I like to call it) can be pretty relaxing, too. Of course, I also dabble in bike riding.
Tell me something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.
Oh just say itâ€”you want me to tell you a secret shame.
I like Neil Diamond.
There. Are you happy now?!