Friday, August 13, 2010

Slick Road Ride

Day off work today for a 3 day weekend. I have some vacation time to use and want to do so before the kids head back to school. The summer is going by too quick. I bought Ian some skinny slicks for his mountain bike a week or so ago, today would be the day to test 'em out. Ian only has one bike, thought the slicks would make pavement riding a little more fun. I've used slicks on mountain bikes in the past and it almost makes it road bike fast. For 11 year old Ian, they'll feel plenty fast enough.

We decided to hit the Sammamish River Trail for a cruise and would leave directly from the house, leaving the family car for the female half of the clan to use for the day. I also had plans to meet some old pals for lunch in Woodinville, just off the trail. Yup, sounds like an official plan and call to be outside.

We rolled out for action, though some suburban streets for 2 miles or so, hit the trail and rode into downtown Woodinville. After our little Teriyaki fest and pal reunion, Ian and I hit the road again. Head home or continue further down the trail? We elect to ride a bit farther. It's a little hot, but pretty nice out.

The new slicks look pretty cool on Ian's bike - sorta BMX, sorta road like. They're Continental Sport Contacts in a 26" x 1.3 size. Much narrower and lighter then full dirt tires. They're also a pain in the ass to install. Some tire and rim combinations are a piece of cake - can remove and mount tires by hand, no tools required. Not these - stupid tight on the Mavic Ceramic rims, requiring tire levers and a few minutes of cursing with each wheel. Ah, the fun of it all. Maybe they'll stretch a bit now that they're mounted. I hope so, 'cause I'll probably be changing these regularly. I picked up the tires from the fine folks at Kirkland Bicycle, located strangely enough in Kirkland.

Ian sprint tests the new tires. He did notice a different over dirt tires, said the slicks feel faster and more "twitchy". Future bike magazine test rider?

We continue down the trail to the Redmond Town Center, located strangely enough in Redmond. After an ice cream break and getting a little too comfy sitting in the shade, time to saddle up for the return trip. It's now late in the afternoon, 80+ degrees, and a stiff head wind to boot. At about the 20 mile mark for the day, with the headwind, the wheels begin to fall of Ian's wagon. He's toast and we have a few miles to go, with a steep 500 foot climb back to the house to top it off. We slow to a crawl and take a few breaks.

During one of the breaks at a park along the trail, I notice an older couple on a tandem, both in their 70s or so. The husband looks pretty fit for his age, the wife didn't quite look the same. They're riding a nice Davidson tandem, complete with matching outfits - shorts and jerseys. I'm watching for at least 10 minutes while she's attempting to remount the rear of the tandem. The husband had removed the rear seat, so she could slowly slide over the rear wheel, then straddle the frame. He then reinstalled the seat, while holding the bike up, and she holding a tree for support. After an additional few minutes of her attempting to put one foot in the toe strap, then get onto the saddle, can see she has some medical issues. Maybe recovering from broken hip?

I ask if they need any help and tried to lift her on the saddle - no way. Another rider at the park joined in and we eventually got her on board. She never said a word during all this. Husband tells us they've been riding a tandem for over 30 years and she's now recovering from a stroke. Wow, that explains it. Quite the team though.

He thanks us and they wobble off back down the trail. Impressive that she's still riding, but slightly horrifying as well. I'd hate to see that rig crash. If they also stopped somewhere with no assistance, no way he'd get her back on there without help. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Even so, amazing she was out there enjoying the sun on a bike.

By now, Ian was still dragging, but riding a little better. I don't want to turn this into a death march, it's supposed to be fun, so I call the female half of the clan to pick us up. We meet at a pizza place, just two miles from the house, and skip the steep climb back up to our neighborhood. After a family shared pizza, we load up the bikes and drive home.

Still, a 27 mile ride in fairly hot weather. The longest ride Ian's ever done and he doesn't ride pavement often. Not bad for 11 years old, I think he did great. We'll hit dirt for the next ride. More fun for him, plus I get to wrestle with those tires again. Joy.


  1. Cool that you can get around by bike trail! I have a set of Tom Slicks and they fit the same way and they don't stretch.

    Do yourself and the others around you a favor and go back to Kirkland Bicycle and get a cheap set of wheels and leave the slicks on the wheel.

    Good Post!

  2. Yeah - we're lucky to have some bike trails in the area - makes for great family riding. I also use 'em for commuting - super nice set up.

    I've mounted a few zillion tires in my day, and these are incredibly hard to mount and remove. I've punctured tubes getting 'em on and off - and I never do that. It takes 2 to 3 tire levers to mount them. Super, super tight fit.

    I've used the spare slick wheelset idea in the past, but have nothing suitable in the garage at the moment. As you mentioned, I may dig up another set to make life easier.