After hearing stories about how fast Team Whiskey Rider member Michon now is, and seeing how paper-thin and cracked my cyclocross tires have become, I decided this past weekend to invest in a new set of tires for the bike I’ll be using for RAGBRAI – some road slicks.
For some purists, this might be considered sacrilege because my RAGBRAI steed is my cyclocross bike (I’m lookin’ at you, Michelle). And I’m pretty sure there will be RAGBRAI riders using pure mountain bikes with full-on knobby tires; much respect to them!
But one of the big reasons I bought a cyclocross bike is its versatility. And at the moment, I felt like going with more of a road-bike feel.
The tires aren’t dedicated road slicks. They’re Michelin City tires, a puncture-proof tire with relatively deep treads that should still be able to handle gravel roads with ease. And they’re 28 mm wide, quite a bit less than my 35 mm ‘cross tires.
I bought them in Madison, Wis., where I spent the weekend with Megan. Madison is a cycling-crazy town if there ever was one (there’s at least a dozen bike shops there, and several hole-in-the-wall bike companies). I had three goals there for the weekend: enjoy the Rhythm and Booms fireworks show (check), enjoy some really good food (check), and get some new tires (check).
I was hoping to find tires similar to what I had but even narrower, but after searching through several stores’ offerings, a 32mm cyclocross tire with a smooth-rolling center tire wasn’t available at this time of year. So I went with the Michelins. (I had been considering a set of Panasonic tires that were lighter, but they cost a lot more and weren’t puncture-resistant. And, as Megan observed, Michelin is all about tires, whereas Panasonic is known more for its electronics. If you’re screaming down a road at 40+ mph, whose tire are you gonna trust with your life in the balance?)
I’ll say one thing for sure: those flimsy Panasonics likely would have been easier to put on! It took over an hour and a lot of sweat to get those Michelins on my wheels, and my hands were killing me when I was done. I hope they keep my tubes from popping for a long time, because I do NOT want to have to pull those off anytime soon!
The new tire width also meant I had to reset my bike computer, so my odometer is back to zero. And seeing how it was July 1, with RAGBRAI three weeks away, now I’ll know exactly how many miles of training I’ll be putting in from here on.
The first test ride was a short one, and I could definitely feel a difference. The ride might be a little harsher because of the stiffer tire and stiffer sidewalls, but it definitely felt faster. Coasting down a hill, I felt like I was accelerating much faster than with my old tires. And at the end of my ride, I saw my max speed was 35 mph. I don’t even know what part of my ride hit that speed! But I guess that’s a good sign of how fast these tires roll.
They’ll definitely come in handy three weeks from now.