It doesn’t take much to make me sweat, certainly considerably less than cycling up a mountain. But just a few hundred metres into a climb, any climb, and my body becomes a leaking tap. I’ve worn a bandanna for the last few years – which helps – but it still doesn’t stop my runny mineral deposits from gradually corroding my bicycle parts; particularly my front fork steerer tube. If you’re not sure of what I’m referring to, that’s the longish circular, ‘invisible’ tube that connects your front forks with the head stem.
Over many years of cycling, I’ve almost had as many steerer tubes replaced as running gear. I’ve come to grief a few times when my chain has broken while ascending Arthurs Seat and I’ve simply crashed – once – through taking a wet switchback far too sharply.
But what has never happened to me – and I hope never will again – is I hit the road when my handlebars were no longer attached to my carbon front forks. The eight-year-old steerer tube, made of aluminium, looked OK when I changed my head stem little more than a month ago, but today – while half-way up my third climb of the afternoon – it was but two jagged pieces, one attached to the handlebars and the other, the front forks.
Being the time between Christmas and New Year, and with a new chair lift in operation, there were more cars travelling up and down the 3 kilometres of road than I’d ever seen. Fortunately there were some cyclists as well, and they came to my aid when I hit the road – perplexed and amazingly still on my feet – clutching my bike-less handlebars. As one of the cyclists, Geoff, said, I was lucky it didn’t occur on a descent.
So, if you regularly check your gearing and brake systems, the thickness of your wheel rims and your chain, don’t forget to check that your bike’s hidden piece of carbon, aluminium or steel is in good shape – especially if you’re a heavy sweater, like me, and you’ve done a lot of climbing.