Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Most expensive tires ever

Tuesday, 30 October

Earlier this month, I had a string of about 6 flats in 2 weeks. I had a similar experience when I dusted off the rain bike last year too, but a pair of new tires seemed to solve the problem. This year, the cycling products procurement person in my household (and the teammates who stood around and watched me fix all those flats) decided that I needed bigger and better tires to solve the problem. I think they are going to turn out to be the most expensive tires he's ever seen--and I don't mean the purchase price.

Because I moaned when I saw the size and weight of the new super-tough armadillo tires, I currently only have one on my rear wheel. It's 28 mm wide. Yesterday was its maiden voyage. Oh, the difference! It does not accelerate. It provides even greater contact with the bumps on the Burke Gilman Trail to maximize wear and tear on the bike and on my nerves and other body parts. Mostly, though, it just takes its own sweet time. How do I describe the exhilaration of going downhill with a tailwind at 14 mph? What greater fun can there be than going up a 15% hill with heavy headlight battery, backpack, and tires that stick to the pavement?

The cycling coach in my household tells me that this will make my winter training even better. "Think how easy it will be when you get on your race bike!" Here's some advance warning to the peloton: come next March, I probably won't be able to handle my race bike because it will accelerate all over the place and go downhill so fast that I'll finally have an excuse for my poor descending skills.

The hidden costs in these tires are the time my teammates are going to have to wait for me on team rides all winter long (those same male teammates who said I needed a pair of armadillos) and the price of a winter vacation somewhere warm and dry where I can ride a bike without super-wide tires to remember what it's like. I'm thinking I've discovered yet another dimension of the cycling industry where what works for the male of the species is somehow less than ideal for the female. And just you wait until one of these tough, gnarly babies flats and I have to get it off and back on the wheel!

[I think I discovered too why I got to ride tandem both days last weekend: one less weekend for me to whine about going slow on my lethargic tire.]


Old as dirt said...

See, I was thinking about you and your training camp ;-)
Now you'll be suspicious!

Argentius said...

I went through the same thought process recently. I ended up buying some 35mm Marathon XR's. Flatproof? Check. Rolls like a pig? You betcha.

When I ride with folks on their 23mm's, if I am drafting them it looks like my tire is going to run theirs over...

Anyway, hang tough with the tough tires!

Anonymous said...

14 mph downhill eh? Isn't that roughly par for the course on your descents? Don't go blaming the tires ;-)

STOKED I AM said...

Ah, no, this is a descent I can handle. :) Perfectly straight. Only challenge is traffic that doesn't stop at the stop signs. Race bike goes at least 18 without pedaling (reckless, I know).

Allison said...

Ted and I use the Bontrager Race Lite Hard Case tires. I used Armadillos before, but I like the Bontragers better. They have a more rounded profile than the more square Armadillos. Plus, I've hardly had any flats.

cannondalegirl said...

i used to have an armadillo on my commuter bike. i remember vividly the one flat i got, less than a half mile from work. i nearly broke down in tears trying to wrestle that hog back onto my wheel. i was ready to hike my bike the rest of the way when i was finally successful.