Teaching the Youth Tracklocross

6ku paul going tracklocross in the woods

In my “Who Are We” section and the various rules pages, I mention that Fiefdom is part of a community interest company, and I thought I should maybe explain what we do.

Fiefdom is part of Socialtrack. If you’re into mountain biking or BMX, you may have seen us featured through various media channels showing our work. Socialtrack originally started as a mountain bike club, then we got more into active travel and finally, we realised that “action sports” are a great way to get kids into active travel and keep them out of trouble.

As time went on, we have expanded on this and run holiday hunger programmes and courses for young people out of work and education. We work in some of the most deprived communities in Scotland, and the ability of bikes (and boards and scooters) to change the lives of some of these young people is amazing.

Red Bull made a wee thing about it in this video for their pump track racing series.

To be neutral about energy drinks, here is one with a Monster rider, Brendog.

How does this fit in with tracklocross?

That is a great question, and it maybe it needs some history.

I became part of Socialtrack as I was working deep in the trenches of the bike industry and honestly starting to hate bikes. So, looking for a way to get out of the bike trade and to rekindle my passion rekindled, I began volunteering with grassroots community groups. Which was great, but I was still involved in bike marketing at the time.

Honestly, there is nothing better than seeing some bike company talk about how amazing their new bike is. Really it is just an open mould frame or a catalogue staple, and I typed a few words about it. Now the cycling media is just regurgitating those words, and no, wait, I said there was nothing better. I meant worse.

I look around the media, and many sites are now simply affiliate marketing sites. If not that, then they re-release PR. It is saddening. It is why we are given one new cog on a cassette as innovation. An extra cog is not an innovation, by the way. The marketing was killing my soul.

So, how do you get up in the morning if you only lie all day for money?

You don’t.

I’ve discussed marketing before, and I’ve linked a post above.

Tracklocross was my get out.

But what about…..

When you talk about tracklocross, you’ll get, “But what about?” About all kinds of things, generally about gears, brakes, and suspension. The above picture is of me in the mountains, and Dan has a full suspension bike with a 50t cog and hydraulic brakes. I spent a lot of time waiting on him.

Simply put, we don’t need these things unless we are racing. Technically they make us faster. Not always, though. The reason is cycling is a race for marketeers. It doesn’t have to be. Racing is just an easy metric, such as weight, to sell bikes. In the real world, though, these metrics don’t matter. The main one is fun. Again, I won’t go over previous arguments here. I’ve linked back to them.

Tracklocross is the purest essence of a bike. Before I get all cliche, I mean it is a simple bike. It does the job, and sure they might be better-suited bikes for the job, but a tracklocross rig will do a lot of these and not take hours of maintenance or even cleaning.

Boutique or not?

There is no marketing here. Well, there is, so let us cover that. Marketing for tracklocross mainly covers MASH, Cinelli, Thomson, Paul, etc. These brands are a mix for some you are paying for handmade in America items. I have no issue with that. You understand the higher price. The higher price is reflected in the wage labour. It does not, though, mean higher quality.

Other brands have managed to turn to sell stock parts from Taiwan into luxury goods. They, though, are not better than the standard Taiwan parts. You are just paying for more glitzy stickers. The good news is that most stuff from Taiwan is of pretty high quality nowadays. So, that means you will be getting a good product. You might just be paying more than you should.

How does this all tie in?

During spring, I got a chance to teach young people how to work on bikes, and more importantly, they got a bike to take away. As with all projects, a budget sets what can be bought. To give a bike away, the best option was a fixed gear bike. I went with the 6KU Paul. Because it looked cool to the young folks, and once we changed the brake pads, it was a good bike for commuting about in Scotland.

We are now three months later, and these bikes are still getting spotted being used by the young folks to get around and build the bikes we took them riding. There are a lot of woods and trails behind us. So, we went exploring. All the students started on freewheels, and by the end, a few had changed to riding fixed. We taught them about bikes, and they responded by working out what they needed and what people just said was required. It allowed them to see through marketing.

The work we do here is why we added a shop. Hopefully, it should allow us to generate a little income, and as we are not for profit, all of the money will be reinvested into the community.

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