The Good Intentions Tour

The Good Intentions Tour

Every year during Memorial Day weekend I have vowed to go ride my bike as far as I can, for as long as I can. This is a tour to push my spring limits, something to gauge what needs to be focused on for summer so that the fall gravel races are a little easier on the body than the early spring excursions.  It could be fully bagged out, it could be a dirt bagging trip, it could be a “credit card” tour with support and hotel rooms.  It could be anything, really, as long as there is a goal of at least 300 miles over the course of the four day weekend.

This is why it has earned the title of “The Good Intentions Tour”

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The fully loaded Ti Vaya, a formidable touring rig but not something to ride 100 miles a day in heavy rain storms. I will not be using this rig for 2017’s GIT

The Good Intentions Tour is just that. It’s a set of intentions (outlined in P1) that are more like a limit than an intention.  Last year I had decided that I was going to take an fifth day and ride a total of 400 miles.  What actually happened was I chose to take my loaded touring bike, I started a day late and rode into intermittent rain storms, at fried chicken, got stuck in a shelter at a city park waiting out a storm, made it to the Night Hawk in Slater, IA drinking with a team of woo girls that were woo-ing their minds out inside a sheet metal shed which houses the back bar at the establishment.  I rode north from Slater to Ames, IA, where I ended up in a hotel room as there were some very serious looking storm systems coming my way, then rode from Ames to middle-of-nowhere Collins, IA where I ran into BikeIowa.com founder Scott Sumpter randomly at a tiny bar, then rode to Cleverley Farms for the last historical Garlicpalooza.  At Larry’s farm we had a blast, but the next morning it was blazingly hot and humid and I made it to a convenience store in Bondurant, IA where I ended up calling a sag for my last 12 miles as I could not get my body to act right.  I don’t blame it, it had a reason to be hostile towards me.  Three Days, 99.4 miles. I couldn’t even bring myself to ride around the steamy block to get to an even 100. I was done.

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The fully loaded Ti Colossal, a killer self contained road-packing rig. I will be losing most of the bags and using this bad boy for GIT. At least I intend to. haha.

That is how it goes every year, first make a long list of good intentions, then say “fuck it” and just do whatever.  This year I will have a partner in Intentions crime, who has vowed to ride one of the four days with me (sounds like a proper good intention), and will then pilot Kira as my support in my quest to ride at least 300 miles.  I haven’t picked the bike yet, but I can tell you that it will not be my Vaya.  Day 1 or 2 will be on the Java, and since there is support involved this year I will probably just pack a very stripped down Colossal for the solo miles.  I can see this turning into a one day loop then a “tailwind tour” to wherever the time limit takes me.

No matter what happens, I am making my list of good intentions for this coming Memorial Day weekend.  I’m looking at routes, plotting miles, and looking at where I can stick a tandem loop in the middle of all of this, in addition to working in some #vanlife with Kira, and also putting together a bail plan for when I give up on my intentions and just want to go home to my lovely vegan kitchen to eat something other than road food.  That’s going to be the biggest challenge this year, spending 3-4 days on the road while still sticking to clean Vegan eating.  We shall see how that goes, or if anything goes at all.

Sam

CNB

Continental Tour Ride Tire “In Review”

Today I would like to speak with you a little about the Continental Tour Ride touring tire.  I spent the last 7 months almost exclusively riding on this tire, which came stock on my Salsa Vaya (a bike I spent about 6 of those months trying to “make work” for me. Which it does now.) in 42 cm.

Salsa Vaya with Continental Tour Ride 42's, The RAGBRAI 2011

First Impression:  I generally opt towards “skinny” tires (a risky venture for someone over 250lbs, let me assure you) so I was visually put off by the big, meaty 42c tires.  They initially reminded me of putting “slicks” on a MTB to do the RAGBRAI.  Not very sexy.  BUT the promise of flat protection and long tread life rang like wedding bells, and especially for a bike I had intended for fully loaded (take that any way you want to) touring.  I was also grossly over budget after a top notch dyno light system and new bags…so…perfect time to not buy new tires to replace new tires.

The Meat:  From the very first ride on the Continental equipped Vaya I was not impressed.  The whole rig felt slow and sluggish.  The bike rode like there was tons of brake drag (which there was sometimes, thanks to the Avid BB5 disc brakes…but that is another story), but HEY! NO FLATS!

The first real test was a straight through ride from Cumming, IA to Breda, IA fully bagged out to meet up with “The RAGBRAI.”  Over 130 miles from 2 am to noon, with a few meal and rest stops in between, with an 80 lb bike and I was zapped.  The amount of work put forth due to the increased rolling resistance was very noticeable, but the zero flats thing…makes up for it a little.  I really hate changing flats on loaded touring bikes…especially when I am loaded.

The true test for me is how well these tires would hold up against Iowa’s finest gravel roads.  They are definitely a “road” tire, but the large size gives them plenty of pull in dry situations.  The performance was diminished from my normal gravel rig, but after hundreds of miles I still had no flats.  It’s a trade I am willing to make for leisurely solo riding, but not for faster paced group rides.  Also lacking was the “overdrive” feeling of popping back on paved stretches, the tires seemed to perform equally on dirt and road.  And not in a good way.

The Damage Done: in a little over 2000 miles I managed to break a few spokes, rip a cleat out of my touring sandals, destroy a chain, bend a der hanger, go OTB a few times, and break a high end boutique saddle.  No flats.  Wait, that’s not entirely true.  I was riding out of one of DSM’s wonderful trails and hit some broken glass, and not the kind that flat protection will help you through.  I got a slow leak.  I made it 2 more miles to the nearest LBS (I left home without my mini pump…I hadn’t had a flat in 6 months.  Got lazy) and fixed the problem.  Also after 2000 miles the rear tire is nearly shot.  It has been retired, and I have switched to some smaller, faster cross tires which have redeemed the Vaya.

The Summarization Thing:  If you are not concerned with speed but are concerned with having to change flats, this is a great tire for you.  If you crave even a tiny amount of performance, look elsewhere.  The Continental Tour Ride is best for slow touring, where your miles to beers ratio gets a little drinky (and you hate changing flats), and for urban commuting where the roads are rough and there is a high risk of broken glass.  Past these two uses, I see little reason to ride these sluggish tires.  But if big and slow is your thing (and you hate changing flats), this is a great option.

The Beyond:  The Tour Rides are being installed on an old fixie of mine for a little Gravel Track Bike Action.  I can’t wait to try skidding on these monsters.

CNB