This week, our blog will feature an interview with Sem Gallegos. Sem has been a big promoter of Kogel Bearings ever since I first set foot in his work shop at Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso, TX.
Since then Sem has been helping us with product development and recently joined as a team member to support our growing brand.
- Tell us about yourself, where are you from?
I was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and still happy to call this little big city my home. Although I ventured out of town for college and other personal and business ventures, I could not wait to come back home and explore our beautiful mountains, on and off the bike. Wearing shorts and a t-shirt in December is one of my favorite pastimes (Sorry, rest of the country haha). But I also enjoy skiing and snowshoeing, so I am glad I am only a couple of hours away from the alpine forest that I call my second home: Ruidoso, NM.
Besides the passion I have for cycling, I enjoy listening to music, the occasional trail run to keep the ankles nice and strong and my personal delicacy of various cheeses…yes I love cheese.
How did you get into cycling and racing?
If it weren’t for my older siblings whom discovered the sport, I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with cycling. I started as a weekend warrior, where I thought riding 4 miles was epic. Then quickly became more interested in the racing and training aspect. Now I can say that I have participated in every discipline of cycling: from the full-face helmet and 40lb bicycle of downhill racing to the skinny tires and paperweight bike of road racing. I did my time as a young rebel on the BMX bike, only to soon find myself in a tight skin suit in 20-degree weather with mud flinging off my cyclocross bike. Soon I realized that my passion in cycling was and will always be in mountain biking. Whether it is a short lung busting cross-country race or a long mind boggling endurance test on sweet sexy singletrack that makes me smile. Every time I feel like a grade school kid when discovering the freedom and fun to be had on two wheels.
Can you share some crazy moments from your races?
Crazy moments? Hmmmm…. I believe riding a bicycle on trails that are obviously not meant to be ridden on a bike is crazy enough.
Bend, Oregon, host to 2011 Marathon Nationals was the setting for a good race experience, with a major fail! Ten minutes into this long day in the saddle I found myself in a spot of trouble, I was redlined! The primary reason for this oxygen depletion to my brain was Peter Stetina. Fresh off the Giro d’Italia, he appeared to be making my destruction his first task. Ka-Boom! Only 20 minutes into this 4-hour affair, I had blown up and recovery had become my new goal…. Hours later I crossed the finish line still waiting for that to happen. Ouch!
How did you get started as a bike mechanic?
I was simply thrown to the wolves. At the ripe age of 17, I began my journey as a bicycle mechanic. I did not know what to expect and didn’t know what was expected of me. I was always intrigued with my father and his passion for breaking and fixing vehicles. Although a car mechanic and bicycle mechanic are completely different, working with my hands and solving problems is something that quickly became second nature to me. Since then I have moved up the many ranks of a bicycle technician (giggles). I am still pleased to be getting my hands dirty and help customers tune their ride.
Which are the best bike hacks or McGyver projects you worked on?
I work in an industry were bike hacks are almost mandatory. Guess I don’t think of it as out of the ordinary when you have to conduct a b-hack as the last resort.
Some bike hacks are there, just to get home or make things work. Like using a power bar wrapper to fix a torn tire, or using duct tape and a stick to support a broken frame after a crash. Others, I am proud to have helped accommodate the rider to his ride. The ultimate hack for me was setting up all the control levers of a Di2 setup on the left side using a correct brake/shift lever and climbing shifter on the same side for a passionate amputee. Along with that, we recreated the brake line with a splitter to allow the use of one lever to control both brakes, of course with independent modulation for each brake.
How did you get involved with Kogel Bearings?
Ard, the founder of Kogel Bearings, came through the shop door and asked if I wanted to aid my customers in improving their experience. And I said hell yes! I have always believed in high quality upgrades to improve the customer experience and why not put confidence in them where it is necessary? With all the new and different bottom bracket standards in the industry and its run of bad luck, I was running out of options as to solving those problems. But here was my answer. Good-bye creaking frame! And the quality of the bearing itself compliments the cups to the fullest. It’s a ceramic revolution and I knew I wanted to be involved further with the development of this product.
How are you involved in Kogel’s product development process?
I am lucky to still be a full time service manager at a shop. This provides me the opportunity to test the cups and bearings on all of the industries bottom brackets. At Crazy Cat we are a dealer of all major brands on the market. On a daily basis I make sure that the tolerances are exact and the quality of the bearing is up to our standards. I make sure that the installation procedure is easy enough for the consumer to install, although I always recommend a certified technician to install them with the proper tools. I am basically in charge of finishing the samples in such a way that it causes the least amount of headaches to the user.
Which other tasks do you have at Kogel Bearings?
Besides helping with product testing, I handle sales in Arizona, New Mexico and South Texas. I am also pleased to be available for any customer service question you might have. This includes technical questions and/or product availability. Along with this, you may be at the receiving end of my super fast shipping and handling.
What are your future plans, any dreams, professionally or in your personal life?
My goal and dream when I first began my career in cycling was to reach the professional level in mountain bike racing, and I was fortunate enough through lots of hard work and dedication to attain that goal. Although I am currently semi-retired in racing, my current focus will be to continue racing occasionally with an emphasis on being an ambassador to the brands I represent. There is always a chance that I might reinstate myself to the life of competitive racing and set new goals for myself. I will continue as service manger for Crazy Cat Cyclery, vice president of the Borderland Mountain Bike Association, and working for Kogel Bearings.
With the integration of these three, busy but very exciting times are to be had. I will continue to spread the word and craving for this amusing lifestyle, one tune up, bearing upgrade and group ride at a time!
As far as my personal life is concerned, I will continue to shred snow and single track lines in winter and repel off sketchy lines in the summer. And who knows, I might just move closer to the equator in the future.
Coffee or beer?
Not a fair question…but I choose coffbeer.
Any funny jokes about balls?
What is the difference between a snow man and a snow woman?
Snowballs…. Hahahaha, that’s pretty fun, right??
Sem is mostly working behind the scenes, but he will be traveling to stores in the Southwest, Texas and he will visit events with us. He also might pick up the phone when you try to reach Kogel Bearings. Don’t be a stranger! Hit him with a technical challenge, he gets a kick out of that.
We’re excited to have you as part of our Ball Bearing Adventures Sem, Welcome to the team!