Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1st Commute of the Season

My wish for a commuter turned up a guy named Travis riding a single-speed mountain bike. It was a beautiful blustery morning today. Blue skies. Wind. Sun. Kind of cold. We rode from Brown's Addition out to the Valley. As it goes with a tailwind, you don't really know you have one until you go home. Pretty gusty.

Travis recommended that I go back into town by going on a trail that runs on the south side of the river, from about Felts field to the Mission St Bridge. I've been on this trail, but it's been a while. What a great route. That's where the pictures are from.

I think I may need to rethink my tire approach for this early spring riding, I got 2 more flats this morning. That makes 5 flats over the last 2 weeks. That's a lot. Even for me.

We're in the worse part of the year for flats: the snow/ice just holds onto the crap that would otherwise be blown/washed away with non-freezing weather. So when it all melts, there's literally piles of junk in the road. On wet days, as this morning was, all that junk is lubed up with water and just slides into my thin tires.

I like cushy/supple tires. I run Panaracer Pasalas (non-tourgaurd) and love them. They're wonderful and a great value, but with the comfort comes flats during this time of year. I've tried Schwable Marathons, Pasala Tourgaurds, Specialized Armadillos, Avocet Cross (normal and Kevlar), Continental 2000's, and a host of cheapo tires. I've also tried running anti-puncture strips. The ride for all of these tires (except the Avocet Cross) is awful and not worth the puncture resitance they offer. The exception is our tandem, where I run Schwable Marathon Plus -- or whatever their super puncture resistant tires are. I don't want to deal with changing a flat on the tandem.

I can change a tire pretty quickly, so normally, the trade-off between comfort/convenience doesn't really matter to me. But when I get a string of flats like this, I begin to rethink that approach.

Today, after my second flat, I realized that I didn't pack my patch kit. Liza was on the way to work, so she was able to deliver a patch kit. She saved me a long walk.
Finally, if you commute by bike, please help out the Bike to Work folks by telling them about your commute.


gillsans said...

I used to get a lot of flats when I lived in Southern Idaho. Dry climate=tons of goatheads. I got some Slime-brand puncture strips on clearance and haven't had one since.

I'm going to try to ride to work tomorrow when the weather looks decent. The Thursday-Friday rain/snow forecast is a little too intimidating for me.

Anonymous said...

What size tire do you run John? I'm looking for new ones, might go conti gator skins as they're supposed to be both solid and good rolling. I wish they had a 32, but 28 might do the trick, as long as I stay on concrete. I'm not sure about the dirt, never mind the beaches piled up on the roads right now.

Dang thing wouldn't let me sign in.


John Speare said...

Nathan: I used to run strips in all my tires until I rode some cushy Avocets on my friend's bike. It made me realize you can have fast and comfy tires. It's all in the suppleness of the casing. Strips and kevlar belts don't make for good suppleness, so I've decided to go with comfort.

Bradley: The pasalas are 32. You might consider Rivendell's Ruffy Tuffy. They're 28 and super round, kevlar belted. I run the non-kevlar version on one bikee. They are made by the same guys that make the pasala. The kevlar versions maybe a good alternative to the conti's your considering if you want to try someting differnt.
Another great tire is the Avocet Cross -- in 32 or 35. Good inverted tread so they roll nicely on the pavement and do ok in the dirt (but not the mud). Even with the kevlar belt, it's cushier than any other puncture-resitant tire I'v tried becase the side walls are super supple. I'm running the kevlar version on the rear of my fixed gear adn it's done me good. They can be a pain to find though.

Not said...

I run Continental Country Rides, 700x35. They're probably slow, but I'm going to be slow anyway. I've always assumed that the harsh ride was from Spokane streets. I've had one flat in a year (about 2,500 miles.) They're mostly slick but seem to work pretty well on dirt and rocks.

My wife's trike has a Schwalbe Marathon on the right side, and it's never had a flat (1,000 miles?) The other two tires are the original Kenda Kwest (65 PSI version, 20x1.5) and they're not very good - three flats in the past month. They'll be replaced with Marathons next week.

Never had a flat with the studded tires, either. I think the brand is Nashbar Crap.

- Ventura

Bob G said...

I never realized there were so many options. I'm running the armadillo now - its smother than the ones I had so nothing to compare with. Had trouble the first month or so March/April) with them last year but then - like magic - haven't had a flat since. Thought I might need new ones after 2500 miles but my bike guy says not yet...we'll see how the spring treats me. One thing I've done is watch the road a little closer.

John Speare said...

Ventura: our tandem also has 20" wheels; that's what we run the schwable marathon plus's on. Good all-rounder tread; harsh ride, but like I said, I never want to deal with a flat while on the tandem, as I'm always with my 5 year old daughter on it adn we're always on the move when we're on it

Bob: I think it's pretty common to get around 10,000 miles on the armadillos. I had those in 26" x 1.5 and rode them for about 2 days (maybe 20 miles?). They were just too jarring for me to ride. I'm a wuss though when it comes to cushy tires. Folks that absolutely do not want to deal with flats love the armadillos. I can understand that approach.