But the question this morning is what tires to put on for the ride tomorrow? It will be on typical rural roads; lots of chipseal, lots of seasonal potholes, and this time of year lots of junk, car parts, limbs, bark from log trucks, gravel. In other words not the conditions for lightweight racey tires, nor well worn tires.
Last month I discovered, on closer inspection that my tires were shot. Actually Cory, the mechanic at the LBS brought this to my attention. So I went to the tire pile and sorted through that stack of used but not used up tires and found a couple that appear appropriate to the task. I know I‘m not alone in this. All my bikish pals have a stack, pile, or jumble of tires that still have something to give. These things don’t store well and if you have someone in the family who has a greater appreciation for order and neatness, this pile can be a source for ‘discussion’. You know what I mean.
I found a pair of Rivendell Jack Browns (the green version) that appear suitable. I gave them a close inspection and though the tread is worn in the center, (that part that constitutes the ‘contact patch’), there are no cuts, no serious abrasions, and no embedded shards of glass, stone, or truck wires. I looked closely. They will do, and if I pay reasonable attention I should get around the course without a ‘tire problem’ (you know that word I’m thinking but not saying).
But is ‘good enough’ good enough? ‘Tire problem repair’ is never fun, but in crappy weather, bad does not describe it. So I did a little tire shopping earlier in the week. I considered getting a pair of cyclocross tires for the remainder of the crappy season. They always look so ’rough and ready’. But the truth is though there is plenty of dirt road riding in our area, I don’t get out on those roads much. Cross tires really cut into speed on paved roads, even these low grade country roads we have here. It would just be nice to have a little more tread for the wet leaves, those slips onto the gravel shoulders when the big rigs come by, and for powering through the occasional mixed dirt and gravel washout. Probably the reasonable compromise is that pair of 32mm Panaracer Paselas that currently grace the Quickbeam:
They aren’t new, but would definitely be at the very top of the used tire heap.
I will buy new tires to start the coming brevet season. I’ve learned that the quality of tires is only one factor contributing to the frequency of ‘tire problems’. Tire condition plays a big role. Even before they are officially worn out, the frequency of ‘problems’ starts to go up. And in adverse conditions, well, need I say more?
I had an epiphany some years ago in this regard. Up to that time I had a policy of buying low cost tires. My rationale was that these things just wear out so what is the sense of putting big money into them? Then, as I was fixing a ‘tire problem’ on a particularly wet, cold, nasty winter ride, as my friends with their higher quality tires waited patiently, I had this thought: Right now, squatting in this cold rainy spot, fingers numb, and coated with cold gritty road water, would I pay money to avoid fixing this flat? The answer flooded the inside of my skull like a flash of light. Then I went grudgingly back to the miseable task at hand. From that point on my tire choices have consdered cost less and performance and durability more. I’ll buy another pair of those Rivendel Jack Browns; they are pretty much the sweet spot for me and my bike.
By the way, I've heard that Riv is planning to stop offering the Rolly Pollys and RuffyTuffys. If these are your ‘sweet spot tire’ you might consider stocking up. I may buy a pair, they are a nice fit on the tandem as are those 28mm Paselas.
PS: Looking ahead I notice that Oregon Randonneurs will host a 200K on the first Saturday in March, and SIR will host their season starting 200K the following weekend. This means that the R-12 hunters have pretty much come through the 'death zone' and keeping the streak alive becomes progressively easier (instead of harder) as time passes.