Monday, August 20, 2007

Puncture Vine

Puncture Vine
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
Anyone who rides a bike in these parts is familiar with the dreaded goathead thorn. Bike shops probably see hundreds of tube repairs because of these nasty things. Lots of people take drastic measures to combat the thorns, installing slimed tubes, thorn resistant tubes, Mr. Tuffy Liner, etc. Unfortunately all these solutions add quite a bit of rotating mass. This may be ok for the kid whose parents are sick of fixing flats, but to the discriminating cyclist it may be undesirable. Especially if you are a weight weenie.

One solution is to install the Stan's No Tube system. I may do this myself some day. Not necessarily for the no hassles from punctures...just to keep Jeff P. and Marcus off my back. Jeff P. makes me feel like Mr. Whipple! I'm always shooing his pinching fingers away from my "overinflated" tires. But I digress...

The easiest way to avoid goathead thorns is to know what Puncture Vine looks like, and where it likes to grow. The vine grows low to the ground, and often has yellow flowers. The vines can be 1-3 feet long. The thorns are hard to see in the tangled mess of vines.

Puncture Vine likes lots of water, so be on the watch near irrigation. A classic example is a yard that has an area of bare dirt between the front lawn and the road. Many times this type of landscape can look like an appealing shortcut, and lure the unwary cyclist in. I once saw a buddy take a shortcut like this, and his tires were just riddled with thorns. The tubes weren't even worth patching, and it took some work to get all the thorn pieces out of the tire. It's always best to keep to the street or path when riding near sprinklers, rivers, or irrigation ditches.

The good news is that in the Carson City area, you seldom have to worry about goatheads once you are out in the natural terrain away from the houses or natural water sources.

The goathead thorn is the leading cause of flat tires around here. What's the biggest threat to your tubes/tires where you live?


Smudgemo said...

What's the biggest threat to your tubes/tires where you live?

Hiking environmentalists that want to save the world by closing one trail at a time to everyone but themselves.

Oops, did it write that out loud?

wolfy said...

Pinch flats.


oldmanandhisbike said...

I am not a fan of no tube tires and have been lucky enough to only suffer the occasional flat (of course, now that I have said that . . . ).
Road bike: Gravel on road shoulders, potholes, polluter debris.
Mountain bike: Poor judgement and technique on my part when encountering roots, rocks, etc.

Jeff said...

We have quite a bit of trail freedom up here. About the only thing I hear people complaining about is trail destruction from land developers. That, and people wishing they could ride the Pacific Crest Trail to complete a loop around Tahoe.

I like high volume tires (2.3, 2.5), so even at psi in the low 30's, pinch flats typically aren't a problem. And it's possible I'm not hardcore enough for pinch flats too... Although I used to get them a lot before I had a pump with a pressure gauge.

rigtenzin said...

Off road: I never get flats.
On road: glass. I helped a fellow cyclist fix his flat just yesterday after work. He had a big chunk of glass in his tire. I've always wondered if bottle return laws would help with that problem.