I Got a New Stem

bottom view of a tracklocross stem

In a blog about my Big Block tracklocross build, I mentioned that I felt I might have got my stem and bars wrong for the build. The ones I picked seemed to suck the fun out of flying around totally out of control. The good news is I got new bars, and the better news is that I now have a stem made in Glasgow for my All-City.

Monday looked like it was going to be the first day of spring, and after months of rain, freezing rain, ice, and snow, I was ready for it coming. Judging by the fact there was a shortage of ambulances, everyone else was also out being stupid as well. Before I get to that, I decided it was time to tidy the Big Block up and set it up as a fun machine for the woods.

It is new chain time, and I’m also at nearing new wheel time.

The front wheel has almost gone past the wear indicator. Here is a look at the rear one to see what a never touched with a brake, indicator looks like.

To be honest, I haven’t ridden the Big Block much since October, so seeing the wear indicator wear so fast has upset me a little and shows how often you should check your wheels. I guess the good news is my front wheel is now lighter. I’ll have to add them beside H Plus Son as rims that don’t like being braked on.

Everything came off, and everything was cleaned, and the bits that needed it got some new grease. I gave the bike a new chain, and I didn’t just grab one of my usual single speed chains. I went for a Gusset oil slick number.

I then went for a new set of HT pedals. I’ve been going back to clipless pedals for fixed gear riding, mainly as I think it looks cleaner. During our massively wet conditions this winter, I also found that my toe straps just hated getting bogged down. Go through some bogs and take your foot out and it becomes a nightmare to get your foot back in, I never really have this issue in summer, but there you go.

Now, it is time to fit my new bar and stem. The stem I had handmade by Rothair Cycles in Glasgow.

The stem is a beauty, and I quite often bang on that cycling has an inclusivity problem and one of the root causes of that being the barrier of cost. I accept that buying handmade things in Scotland is not cheap, and I can be accused of being a hypocrite. Which I might well be, but I also want to support people who I believe deserve support. So, I did. I also do not expect people to pay these prices to enter cycling.

I then fitted the Tioga flat bars and went for my dirt jump choice of grips, the Gusset S2.

Then it was time for a shred in the wood.

I thought I might have made a further mistake on my bar and stem choice when I started out, but after 5 minutes, I was all good and could get the shred on. Except, at first, I had to make a little video showing a trail for our NHS social prescribing work. You can see the video on the link.

After a little bit of fun, it was off to the local pump track and a bike change.

I was here to film some instructional videos for schools. While I was getting warmed up, a scooter kid took a blow to his head (he had a helmet on) and was out of it. With that and the fact, his head was swelling up peculiarly meant it was time to phone an ambulance.

Due to the various cuts that have ravaged our health service, I had to hold for an operator, and then we had to wait for the ambulance. After 30 mins or so, the local kids had managed to find the injured parties parents, and they decided to cart him to the hospital (only really 5 mins away, although I don’t think this was the smartest move), and we cancelled the ambulance. For some reason, my mood for carrying on had evaporated.

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