March 3rd - This is what happens when you ignore your gut feelings. This clumsy photo is my gloved had, turning a bike tyre inside out to show a hawthorn spine pushed right through it. Miraculously, it hadn’t yet caused a flat. I was very lucky.
I’ve been fettling the bike a lot lately, and fitted new tyres I bought last year. I thought them to be my favourite tyre - Schwalbe Marathon Plus. They are tough as old boots, and very resistant to thorns and other nasties. When I unwrapped the tyres, they were just normal Marathons - a lighter weight tyre without the tough protection. Not wanting to waste the purchase, I fitted the skinnier tyres. I rode them for a week, thinking they were OK.
Yesterday, I had two rear-wheel punctures on the canal towpath near Hopwas, both caused by Hawthorn, the curse of towpath cycling. As I came home, I developed a third slow puncture, and resolved to change back to a pair of Marathon Plus tyres when I could next day.
As I came to do the swap tonight, I found the front tyre - which had been OK - had a 7mm thorn through, waiting to pop the inner tube.
Schwalbe Marathon Plus are excellent. Marathons are a good tyre, but they’re just not up to towpath use, as I knew when I fitted them. Sometimes it’s best to listen to your instincts.
December 6th - It’s time for the winter boots again. A couple of times this week I’ve felt that queasy adrenaline rush as either the front or real wheel slipped a little bit while cornering. Such incidents are rare, but a wakeup call I always heed. Nature is telling me that it’s time to swap out the 28mm Marathon Plus tyres and throw on the 38mm Marathon Winter. These are a fatter, lower pressure road tyre exhibiting a chunky tread made from a soft compound with small tungsten carbide studs inlaid that bite into ice, mud and road debris. They’re noisy, don’t roll too well, but grip, even on black ice, like demons. They’re not cheap, but for any commuter who keeps going through rough conditions, I highly recommend them.
December 6th - The seasonal frosts came with a vengeance today, the roads and pavements covered in a layer of frozen rainfall. As soon as that happens, on go my winter tyres. The ones I use are Schwalbe Marathon Winter, in 700cx35, which have a pronounced, rubbery anti-slip deep tread and carry four rows of tungsten carbide studs, which bite into ice and stop you sliding away. Very effective in snow, this is the second winter for this pair, and they’re still like new. They’re noisy to ride, and don’t roll all that smoothly, but I’d rather that than land on my arse. They work surprisingly well, and cut spills to an absolute minimum. Highly recommended.