FORT DAVIS, Texas — As I noted in the previous post, five members of our bicycle caravan took an alternate route out of Van Horn on Monday morning and rode southeast to Marfa instead of to Fort Davis to check out the galleries in that arts mecca of West Texas.
Reports from Marfa via Facebook and blog indicate it was a wise decision.
Here are a couple of photos from Reg’s blog, http://bicarious.blogspot.com, and from Kami’s Facebook page:
The first time the tires proved their worth was on Friday as we left Las Cruces, N.M., on a bike path along the Rio Grande infested with goatheads, nasty little rock-hard burrs that embed themselves in bicycle tires.
Six of us who rode that trail ended up with a total of seven flats. I wasn’t one of them. I plucked about a half-dozen goatheads from my tires, but they apparently didn’t penetrate to the tube.
On Sunday, about three miles out of Van Horn, our intended destination, I heard something banging on my bike frame with each rotation of the rear wheel. I thought I had broken a spoke, in which case I would have been in deep doo-doo because I’ve never replaced a spoke and don’t have the tools to do it even if I knew how.
But the noise turned out to be a nail of about 2 1/2 inches that had penetrated my rear tire at an angle. I thought the tire would immediately go flat once I worked out the nail. But, wonder of wonders, when I extracted the nail the tire remained hard and fully inflated. The nail apparently penetrated only the protective cushion on the Marathon Plus tire and didn’t reach the tube.
If it had, I’m not sure that my Specialized Airlock tubes with a slimy substance inside would have prevented a flat. So I credit the tire.
A September post on the blog of Outside magazine told the story of Scott Stoll, who has bicycled around the world and is now doing a circumnavigation of North America. The blog post discussed the gear that Stoll is using and quoted him as saying that the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, which has a 5mm-thick layer of rubber for puncture protection, is “the best touring tire in the world.”
I’d second that.
“The Marathon Plus tires, which cost $55 a piece,” the blog said, “are cited by the company as impenetrable even by shards of glass and thumbtacks. Stoll went 15,000 miles on one set.”
Several members of our group have been trying to find Specialized Airlock tubes at bike shops along our route. One rider, Mike, who has had several flats, has ordered a set of Marathon Plus tires from his local bike shop in Los Angeles and is having them sent to Del Rio, Texas, a few stops further down the road on our journey.