Friday, September 23, 2011

Rambling Man

My struggles with goathead thorns have been well chronicled. I have tried thicker tubes, tire liners and tubes filled with sealant. Nothing worked very well. Last year I simply quit riding around my local area in the late summer because I became so tired of fixing flats. This year I decided to do some research and see if I could find another alternative instead of driving somewhere to ride.

I stumbled upon the Continental tire site and looked around. I didn't see anything that looked promising in the road, cyclocross or touring tires. It wasn't until I explored "trekking tires" that I found this one:

It's described as a tire for "bramble rambling." Not knowing exactly what that meant, I read further. Taken directly from the site:

"The Country Plus is just the thing for blackberry-picking ramblers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Thorns lose their sting - at least as far as the tyres are concerned. And the tread is ideally patterned for field and forest excursions. The tough Plus Breaker effectively fends off thorns and stones."

Sweet. Sounded like just the ticket. I mean, how could they not work? There's yellow stuff inside. Yellow stuff! I don't know what it is, but it must work, right? It's yellow.

Unfortunately the yellow stuff comes with a hefty weight penalty—920 grams for the 700x42 size that I ordered. Yes, over two pounds each, which is heavier than many 29er tires.

I ordered a pair for $72 from Amazon. They showed up in two huge boxes. I thought perhaps they accidentally sent a complete bike, but no. Amazon apparently only knows how to ship books.

The tires were intended for my cyclocross bike that has sat partially built (due to laziness) for almost a year. Time went by. Bike sat unfinished. More time went by. As the thorns matured on the vine I decided I could wait no longer, so I opted to see if I could cram them onto my road bike. They fit fine even at the 42mm width.

I rode them for six weeks without a single flat. I still rode cautiously and avoided the really bad areas, but I have to say the tires were awesome. Until today.

The chewy nougat center did little to fend off the utility knife blade that I ran over today. I find myself saying "In all my years of riding, I've never" a lot lately. I've never cut a tire to this extent. I could probably ride over that paper-thin little blade another 500 times and not repeat this feat. How the damn thing flipped up on end and entered the tire at a 90 degree angle I'll never know.

I guess I'll order another tire because the last six weeks of flat-free riding have been great.


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