January 14th - Winter boots. I’ve mentioned before that in the winter, I ride studded snow tyres. The ones I fit are Schwalbe Marathon Plus Winter, and are a decent choice for road/touring bikes if you have the frame clearance. They don’t roll as well as normal tyres, but by heck, they stick to the roads like a wet tee-shirt. On icy mornings and days like this they come into their own - sure footed in patches of snow, slush, mud and frozen puddles, they’re worth the investment to be that little bit safer.
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.
August 2nd - Today, on the way home, I was stricken by the P*nct*r* fairy. I get relatively few (touches wood carefully) such incidents - maybe 3 in every 3,000 miles or so - because I use a very tough brand of tyre by Schwalbe - Marathon Plus. On the workhorse bike, it’s 26x1.75 Marathon Plus Tour, and on the others, it 700x28 Marathon Plus. They contain kevlar bands to prevent thorns and spikes cutting through the tire and other defensive measures. They’re quite heavy, and probably don’t roll as well as the strips of liquorice the racing boys use, but if you’re below Cavendish level, you’ll never notice the difference.
Correct inflation will prevent punctures, no matter what the brand of tyre. Always check your pressures.
This bike has hub gears and taking the back wheel out is a pain in the arse, and I swore heartily at it in the centre of town. Cursing my bad luck, I found not a puncture, but the heat had lifted an old patch, deflating the tyre. That’ll teach me to be a tightarse.