All posts by votsek

About votsek

A bicycle tourist since 2010, I enjoy sharing my experiences and advocating for bicycle touring. My bicycle is a Surly Long Haul Trucker that I have owned since 2012. I have done both self-supported and supported tours.

Cycle The Erie Canal 2022 Was Significant

This was my ninth consecutive Cycle The Erie Canal with Parks and Trails New York. This year the ride had a special significance. This was my first tour after my accident last Fall.

Having the Accident that I Dreaded

One September 15, 2021, I was four miles into the trail on the fourth day of a fully supported tour from Washington DC to Pittsburgh. That day was our final day on the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath trail. I hit an exposed tree root at a bad angle and my bicycle and I were thrown to the ground violently, breaking my femur. The details are documented in my blog post last year.

For years I thought about the possibility of such an accident and I dreaded the prospect. At 75 years old, recovery could be difficult or impossible. Bicycle riding is low risk, but the risk is there as with many sports. Although I consider myself a cautious rider, the accident happened nonetheless and I found myself in rigorous physical therapy to regain my ability to ride and to tour.

Getting to CTEC 2022

For weeks I did daily physical therapy for an hour and a half or more each day, encouraged by incremental improvements. By early October I transitioned from my walker to a cane. In late October I began to take hikes outdoors, working my way from a quarter mile to two miles daily. I was able to drive my car by November, went back to my twice weekly part-time job, and began to work out on the machines at the senior center in town.

In late December, I successfully made my first attempt to mount my stationary bicycle at home. I transitioned from workouts a the senior center to workouts on my stationary in January. On a mild day in February, I took my bicycle out for a very short ride in the neighborhood. When the trails became clear in March, I began my training rides. Soon I was up to my typical 25 mile training ride. By the time I began Cycle The Erie Canal I had over 1000 training miles.

Arriving in Buffalo

After signing up for the ride, I had some anxiety concerning camping and riding over fifty miles per day. My family, my son Eric who was on the tour with me, and friends were very encouraging. I needed to experience the first day of riding to overcome the angst.

Eric and I arrived at Nichols School in Buffalo early on registration day. The Taste of Buffalo event downtown was a nice way to spend the day before registration in the afternoon. In the afternoon, the camp grew to accommodate 650 riders and nearly 100 volunteers. It was great to see the resurgence of large numbers of people on the tour.

The Taste of Buffalo event on Saturday was a great way to spend the day before registration in the afternoon.

At dinner in Buffalo at Nichols School, a man approached me and said, “Ed, I never expected to see you here!”

It was John from Western Massachusetts, one of the people on the tour last Fall. He was one of the two physicians who stopped on the trail to offer aid after my accident. I was happy to see him and to have the difficulty of my recovery acknowledged. We met in camp several times during the Erie ride.

There were other people that we knew from previous CTEC tours and were happy to spend time with them again. They are Mike from Cape Cod; John from New Jersey; Gordon from New York City; Bob from Rochester; Les from the Adirondacks. It was good to see the familiar faces of the volunteers as well. These were comforting interactions with people before the ride and the people are one reason that the ride is great experience year after year.

Riding as a Personal Achievement

The first day went fine and I arrived in Medina, our first camp, early in the afternoon. Eric and I celebrated with our annual lunch at The Country Club Diner on Main Street. I set up camp following the habits formed by many similar experiences over the past ten years. I slept very well after that first day.

Every year we have lunch in Medina at the Country Club.

Every successive day I felt improved recovery from the previous day. Arriving in camp each day, I had energy remaining to set up camp, shower, and enjoy dinner. Every morning I rose without an alarm clock before 5:30, ready to break camp, eat breakfast, and hit the trail.

Looking Forward to Future Rides

By the time we ended the ride in Albany, I felt that I overcame my anxieties and my severe injury. During the early days of my rehabilitation, I cannot say that I was hopeless, but I needed affirmation that I could still enjoy riding and touring on my bicycle. Cycle The Erie Canal 2022 helped me to achieve that affirmation and the conviction that I will be able to ride for a few more years to come.

Eric and I at the Finish Line in Albany

Consider The Risk Of Being Clipped To Your Pedals

For several years, I have been using Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD) shoes, pedals, and cleats. After thousands of miles, I was proficient at using them. However, being clipped to my pedals most probably contributed to the outcome of my bicycle accident. The outcome of my bicycle accident on September 15, 2021, was a broken femur that required partial hip replacement and months of physical therapy. Consider the risk of being clipped to your pedals.

This prosthetic replaces the ball of my femur, broken off in a bicycle accident.

The accident happened so fast that I have no memory of the trip to the ground. Since I do not exactly know how I broke my femur, I have developed a theory. Falling as I did, my saddle was in position to exert enough force on the neck of my femur to break it. A complicating factor was that my feet were clipped to the pedals.

During the accident, I fell toward the right. I hit the ground with significant force. The motion of the bike, as it continued the flipping motion, lifted my right foot and my right leg upward. Since my right leg was connected to the right pedal, it was being pulled upward. That same motion pressed the saddle against my femur with the force of impact as my right hip hit the ground. That is almost certainly what broke the ball off of my femur.

Of course, my pedals were not the cause of the accident. The cause of the accident was the unsafe condition of the C&O towpath where the accident occurred. Unfortunately, my SPD pedals affected the severity of my injury.

Personally, I can no longer take the risk of being clipped to my pedals. If you use SPD or some other clip system, be aware of the risk. You have no control of the outcome of an accident because things happen so fast. If you fall and your luck runs out as it did with me, you may have the same result or some other unpredictable bad outcome. Consider the risk of being clipped to your pedals.

My Personal Case For Completing C&O Towpath Resurfacing

This is my personal case for completing C&O towpath resurfacing. An annual case for funding the resurfacing is already being made by the C&O Canal National Historical Park and the C&O Canal Trust. As I discuss later in this article, that funding is not sufficient to complete the resurfacing in a timely way. Yet, there are known safety concerns for the towpath.

The route is very popular among bicycle tourists. Arguably, the route is the longest off-road route in the country. Bicycle tourists often combine the 184 mile C&O towpath with the 150 mile Great Allegheny Passage. That is a total of 334 miles from Washington DC to Pittsburgh.

One reason that the route is desirable is that cyclists do not contend with motor vehicles. In particular, the C&O towpath is entirely within the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The park is well known for its historic sites and for the picturesque Potomac River that parallels the canal towpath.

The accident during my sixth tour on that route from DC to Pittsburgh is my motivation to advocate for completing C&O towpath resurfacing. The tour is an achievement that has always been personally satisfying to me. As I get older, tours such as this become more meaningful and this year I was doing it at seventy five years old.

My Accident on the Towpath

This year, I was in a group of 48 riders on a fully supported Adventure Cycling Association tour. The Adventure Cycling Association was transporting our luggage for this tour. However, I have also done the trip alone twice, carrying all of my stuff on my bicycle.

Early on the fourth day of the tour, I was four miles into the C&O towpath trail when I hit a tree root. This was on the trail between Little Orleans and Cumberland at about milepost 144. The section of trail is well known for hazardous tree roots, rocks, and potholes.

The bicycle and I were flipped to the ground. The accident happened so fast that I have no memory of anything except my head and my helmet hitting the ground. After laying there for a moment and taking inventory, I tried to get up and felt intense pain in my right leg. I was not going to get up. I had a broken femur.

Emergency Medical Technicians arrived about twenty minutes after a fellow rider called 911. They hauled me out of the woods on an All Terrain Vehicle to a waiting ambulance. I was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Western Maryland in Cumberland, Maryland, on September 15, 2021. Partial hip replacement surgery repaired the damage on September 16. The hospital inpatient rehabilitation unit admitted me for physical and occupation therapy on September 18. I was discharged to return home and begin a long road to recovery on September 25.

C&O Towpath Accident Rate

Hundreds of accidents have been reported on the C&O towpath in recent years. The C&O towpath safety issues were presented in the article “A Path to Success: A Towpath Master Plan” by Stephanie Spencer in the June 2018 issue of Along the Towpath. This is a publication of the C&O Canal Association, a volunteer organization that works with the National Park Service. The article describes the safety assessment of the C&O towpath done in 2015 by the Allegheny Trail Alliance in cooperation with the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Current resurfacing plans are based on that assessment.

The number of injuries sustained by cyclists on the C&O towpath each year is significant according to the Spencer article. “In the past six years [based on June 2018], over 200 towpath injuries were reported, 71 percent of which involved towpath defects such as root exposure.” By my calculation, that amounts to about 24 accidents per year caused by tree roots, rocks, and potholes. That translates to one accident every week during a six month peak riding season.

That accident rate is based on reported accidents. I take that to mean that since they are reported they are also the most severe. In my case, a National Park Service person came to me as I lay in the ambulance to collect my information. Emergency services report all of the most severe accidents to the National Park Service. Anecdotally, hospital staff told me of many patients admitted due to C&O towpath accidents.

Long Term Funding for Resurfacing is Needed

More aggressive funding of C&O towpath resurfacing can eliminate the exposed tree roots, rocks, and potholes that cause accidents more quickly. Funding for towpath resurfacing currently comes from three sources: the National Park Service, the State of Maryland Transportation Alternatives Program, and the C&O Canal Trust. Those sources have supported less than twenty miles of resurfacing per year during the past three years. Each of those segments was funded by separate grants with no commitment for continued support. Spencer also points out the shortcomings of this cyclical funding. Each new year and each new resurfacing phase requires that the C&O Canal National Historical Park request new funding.

If the accident rate was that high on a public highway or city street, there would certainly be a call for funding and corrective action. Instead, this is an off road trail with a small constituency and an appeal for added funding is difficult to support. Funding for the National Park Service or for the C&O Canal National Historical Park is not necessarily a priority for our Government. Still, I add my lone voice as a cyclist to those of the C&O Canal National Historical Park and the C&O Canal Trust to appeal for more funding. I do that as one concerned cyclist of thousands who have toured the C&O and one unlucky enough to be seriously injured.

My Lone Voice as a Cyclist

Some day I may return to confront the trail that put me into the hospital and resulted in months of physical therapy. I would like to know that something has been done to fix this trail, one of the most popular in the country, to make it safe for everybody who uses it. What will it take to get needed C&O towpath resurfacing done? It will take more than my lone voice. In the meantime, when you ride the C&O towpath, be careful to avoid being one of the accident statistics.

Tracking My Physical Therapy Using STRAVA

I’m tracking my physical therapy using STRAVA. The path to recovery from my partial hip replacement is taking some rigorous exercise. For the first four weeks, I used an indoor exercise regimen that I learned when in the hospital inpatient rehabilitation unit. Yesterday I took a chance and tried something to push the envelop a little and used STRAVA to measure the result.

In fact, a lot of therapy involves pushing the envelop. As the pain of the surgery became less each day, I began to extend my range of motion. I advanced from lifting my foot to a stair tread to lifting myself up onto the stair.

Yesterday I walked to the mailbox and realized that I could walk a lot further than earlier in the week. After bringing the mail inside, I took a .8 mile walk. At the halfway point I realized that I was missing the opportunity to record my trek using the STRAVA app on my iPhone. Today when I started I began to record at my front door.

It is going to be fun and challenging to watch my performance week after week. At this time on the second day of walking outdoors I can do .8 mile and do it very slowly. Seeing my performance get better always motivates me and I prefer walking compared with the stationary exercises indoors. Walking is also better since it exercises the core muscles more and is an overall better workout.

Getting outside is an antidote for my depression as well. Being confined indoors has been torture for me and I miss all of the activities that usually keep me on my feet and moving. Today’s walk improved my attitude. My goal is to walk every day to get my right leg back into shape and record every walk to remind myself that I am making progress.

C&O and GAP Bicycle Tour 2021 Ended Abruptly

My C&O and GAP bicycle tour 2021 ended abruptly on September 15 when I had a serious bicycle accident. It happened on the fourth day of a seven day Adventure Cycling Association tour from Washington DC to Pittsburgh on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage. The day began with the dawn when most of us in our group of 48 riders emerged from our tents to pack up before breakfast. We were camped at the Little Orleans Campground, one of my favorite overnights on the trip because the tent sites are grassy and soft.

The C&O towpath is a little over a mile from the campground and I was eager to get there. Once I was on the C&O, I felt pretty good. On previous days I think that I started with a low hydration level and didn’t have much energy early in the morning. During those days I caught up on my hydration during the early hours and finished strong each day. This day was different and I started the morning ride cranking with good cadence and speed. I was cruising along at between 10 and 15 miles per hour and felt that I could sustain that for some time.

Almost four miles into the trail my front wheel hit a tree root that was wet with morning dew. It crossed the trail at an angle rather than perpendicular so that when my tire made contact it slid to the left, flipping me and my rig to the ground. The accident happened so fast that I do not remember flipping and falling to the ground. I only remember impact when my helmet hit the ground.

I blacked out for a fraction of a second before opening my eyes to see my bicycle on top of me on the ground. After a quick inventory I felt that everything above my waist was alright. The rider who was behind me to witness the event was talking to me and I think that she was advising me to stay still. My first act was to try to stand up. It was not possible since my right leg was not working and was very painful.

I dragged myself to a comfortable position at the side of the trail. Other riders began to arrive at the scene and one of them was trying to call 911. Cell phone connections on the C&O are very sparse, but she was able to get through. I could hear her state the mile marker and the state of the emergency to the operator. Help was on the way.

As I lay there I don’t think that I experienced shock. I was talking with others around me and even had grabbed my cell phone to end my STRAVA ride. Two physicians who were on the tour stopped to help, which I very much appreciated since they gave me some confidence that everything was going to be alright. One of them made the field diagnosis of a broken femur, which happened to be correct. He explained the potential range of medical alternatives.

The Emergency Medical Technicians arrived with a large All Terrain Vehicle. One on them asked if I wanted something for pain. I told him the very short version of how in my thirties I decided to have dental work done cold turkey. Since then I have never turned down pain medications.

show EMTs attending to me after my accident
EMTs checking me out before transporting me out of the trail to the waiting ambulance. (Photo: Jean Bergner)

They assembled a two-piece backboard under me. My leg was moved to a position where I felt the least pain. The backboard with me on it was strapped to a stretcher. They strapped the stretcher to the top of the ATV. We took the nearly four mile drive to the place where I entered the trail and where the ambulance was waiting.

In the ambulance as I lay there for a few minutes before we began the trip to the hospital, a National Parks Service person came on board to get my information. I am sure that she plans to send me a “get well” card. Actually, I understand their need to have the information. My thought process went further thinking that they have a lot of data on bicycle accidents on the C&O.

During the trip to the emergency room in the ambulance I was in a kind of fog because the pain medications were doing their thing. In the ER they did an x-ray of my hip. As I lay there I thought about doing a video of my experiences during the entire process. I took a selfie in the ER as a starter. I was admitted to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Western Maryland hospital and moved to the orthopedic wing to await surgery. The surgeon came in to tell me that I was going to get a partial hip replacement the next day. My hip replacement journey had begun.

Cycle The Erie Canal 2021

It has been more than a week since my son and I completed the Cycle The Erie Canal bicycle ride produced by Parks and Trails New York and directed by April and Al. It was my eighth time on the ride and Eric’s fifth. Every ride has been different and each one full of great memories.

This year, there were several things that were especially memorable. In particular, the Storm at Seneca Falls and the Bike Corral at Fort Stanwix. We noticed one more very significant thing about the trail itself. During the time since our previous ride in 2019 and the hiatus of 2020, there have been significant additions to the trail.

There Are Many Trail Improvements

The ride through Syracuse, the ride into Little Falls, the ride out of Canajoharie, and the ride into Albany in particular featured new sections of trail that make the ride safer and more enjoyable. It takes years to negotiate rights of way and funding for these improvements. That is why I am a member and supporter of Parks and Trails New York, the advocacy organization that makes it happen.

The new riders have missed the transformation. The ride into Syracuse was all on-road as was the ride out of the city. The ride out of Syracuse also challenged riders with steep uphill grades. The same was true of the ride into Little Falls and the ride out of Canajoharie, featuring hills and roads. The trail additions make it much more feasible for less experienced riders to experience the trail and to succeed.

Shows Cycle The Erie Canal trail conditions near Syracuse
A section of trail east of Syracuse

The outfall from the pandemic required some changes in camping venues. At Fairport, Seneca Falls, and Rome, we camped at unfamiliar places, but they were all excellent. The logistics at Rome were complex and well planned.

We Used Some New Campgrounds

Our usual campground in Rome at Fort Stanwix was closed and we were bused to Oneida Lake and Verona Beach State Park. Our bikes were kept safely within the gates of Fort Stanwix. There were shuttles from the camp site to Sylvan Beach where we enjoyed restaurants, ice cream, a car show, and the start of the annual Sylvan Beach Pirate Weekend, all enjoyable.

There was much more going on at the Rome stop. Box breakfasts were provided at Verona Beach so that we could eat during the bus ride back to Rome to fetch our bicycles. Our bicycles were organized into pods with catchy names so that it was easy to find them.

It Was A Memorable Ride

The ride itself was excellent. We were fortunate that we only rode in the rain in the morning on one day. The forecasts were for rain most of the week. Instead we had clouds and cooler weather that was perfect for riding. The sun made several appearances that were too brief, but that did not detract from the personal achievements of most of the riders in completing the nearly 400 mile ride.

Now Playing on YouTube

Recently I started doing more video because I enjoy photography and video is a natural extension for me. My YouTube channel @EdeksAttic has been there for a few years and has some well-viewed content. My plan is to expand the content from the initial travelogs and product reviews to include other topics that may interest other bicycle tourists, including maintaining a touring bicycle, preparing for tours, and planning tours.

I love bicycle touring and want to share my experiences so that others can launch into the sport with confidence and enjoy it as I do. Please check our my YouTube channel @EdeksAttic and follow. Thank you in advance!

My Bicycle Tour Diet

In the age of COVID-19 there are uncertainties in planning a bicycle tour. When planning for my most recent self-supported tour from Pittsburgh to Washington DC on the GAP and C&O trails, I was concerned about the availability of places to eat on the route. It was a seven day trip, beginning on 12 September. I decided to carry enough food to sustain me through one or two days in case I could not find a grocery store or restaurant. I had one pannier dedicated to food.

In that spirit, I carried two spare bottles of water. The water was not enough to go much beyond a day, but I reasoned that water would be more common and that I would find it easier to get. As a hedge I carried an ultraviolet water purifier since I would almost always be close to a river.

My size and the weight of my panniers drove my appetite significantly. I am 6′-4″ tall and weigh 225 pounds. The weight of all of my food and gear was about 55 pounds. My bicycle is a Surly Long Haul Trucker that is geared for touring, but me and my stuff needed to cover a lot of ground each day and burn a lot of calories.

When I started out my food pannier load consisted of

  • One pound of hard salami
  • Jar of peanut butter
  • Squeeze bottle of honey
  • About six four-packs of Nutter Butter cookies
  • Package of flour tortillas
  • Can of Hormel chili
  • Can of meat spread
  • Two cans of tuna
  • Two avocados
  • One orange
  • One package of pitted dates
  • Two packages of beef jerky
  • Ten packages of mayonnaise
  • Two 10-packs of Babybel cheese.

The hard salami was fine for my first dinner in camp. By the time I got to Williamsport I had enough of the salami and threw it away. It did not spoil, but the taste of it did not appeal to me any longer. I prefer a darker hard salami and if it had been Oscar Mayer salami, I might have kept it. The meat spread was also a bad idea and I threw it out as well. The Hormel corned beef hash would have been a better choice for another canned meat.

There were some food choices that were based on their ability to survive being in a pannier. Avocados are a great source of fats and vitamins. They do well in the pannier as long as they are not too ripe. I was able to eat them just before they turned soft. Oranges are very durable and apples would also work. The tortillas travel better than any kind of bread and provide the same kind of food value. Each piece of Babybel cheese is packaged in wax and lasted very well on the trip.

Along the way I was going to replenish my food supply. That turned out to be not necessary for breakfast and dinner because of other food sources that came up along the way. I did replenish my snack foods. At the end, I had most of my cheese, a can of tuna, a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs that I purchased along the way, and a few tortillas left over.

Planned camp sites were the Uniontown KOA near Connellsville, PA; Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood, PA; Little Orleans Campground, MD; Snug Harbor KOA, Williamsport, MD; and Brunswick Family Campground, MD.  I ate both breakfast and dinner at the camp sites.

Two meals happened that were nice surprises. On my way to the KOA near Williamsport, I stopped at the Sheetz gas station in Williamsport. I opted to buy some food there rather than eat the food that I had in my pannier. The KOA also had a little diner that was preparing takeout and I ordered chicken wings. I had too much to eat, but the wings were good for breakfast the next morning.

In Brunswick at my final camp site, I was going to pitch camp, shower, and ride to a grocery store in town for some food. To my delight, the local pizza place delivered to the campground. The leftover pizza also made a good breakfast to start the next day.

I always tried to have both orange juice and a coffee drink in my food pannier for each breakfast. The Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino was great because it gave me my caffeine, it was a nice chaser for peanut butter, and there were some serious calories in each bottle.

On the trail, I stopped every hour for a carbohydrate hit. I liked to carry at least one bottle of chocolate milk for my mid-day stop. I varied my snack stops among Nutter Butter cookies, cheese cracker and peanut butter snacks, dates, Fig Newtons, Famous Amos cookies, and beef jerky.

There were opportunistic stops to replenish water and to have ice cream. I never had a problem finding a source for bottled water and I also used potable water from the camp sites. When I replenished water at a store, I would often find the orange juice and Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino at the same time.

My diet on this tour sustained my energy level better than I have experienced on previous tours. This was the first time that I used this particular daily regimen for nutrition on a tour. The regimen was breakfast, water every ten minutes of so, rest stops with carbo  snacks every hour, and dinner at the end of the day.

It seems that I should have found this regimen much earlier in my bicycle touring career, but I did not for some reason. I was satisfied with less frequent rest stops and snacking. In the past I did not hydrate as much as I should. I placed too much emphasis on breakfast and dinner alone as sources for calories.

This time I did some research before I headed out and tried to emulate some of the advice by other bicycle tourists on the Internet. This is my experience and what I did worked well for me. I was able to sustain my energy levels through each day and many times felt that I could ride another ten or twenty miles. Give a lot of attention to your personal dietary needs when you plan your bicycle tours. It pays off.

MealFood
12 September BreakfastOrange Juice, breakfast sandwich, coffee from the hotel snack bar
12 September  DinnerIced tea beverage, avocado, hard salami/tortilla wrap, Babybel cheese
13 September BreakfastOrange juice, peanut butter/honey/tortilla wrap, Starbucks Doubleshot
13 September DinnerWater, avocado, tuna/mayonnaise/tortilla wrap
14 September BreakfastOrange juice, ham sandwich, Nutter Butter cookies, Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from the local gas station convenience store in Rockwood
14 September Dinner Salad, crab cakes, and a ginger ale at the Baltimore Street Grill in Cumberland
15 September BreakfastSausage, scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee at the Fairfield Inn in Cumberland
15 September DinnerA can of Hormel chili with beans, tortilla, pitted dates, and a ginger ale
16 September BreakfastOrange juice, peanut butter/honey/tortilla wrap, Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino
16 September Dinner Chicken salad wrap, cheese/apple slice snack package purchased at the Sheetz Store in Williamsport;  – ten chicken wings from the KOA diner
17 September BreakfastOrange juice, leftover chicken wings, Babybel cheese, and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino
17 September DinnerPepperoni, onion, green pepper, and mushroom pizza, a salad, and a can of ginger ale
18 September BreakfastLeftover pizza, Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino

20,000 Miles on My LHT

On a recent tour from Pittsburgh to Washington DC I logged my 20,000th mile on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. I have trained and toured on my LHT since 2013. There are a lot of great memories connected with my bicycle.

My touring bicycle that has 20,000 miles on it
I continue to surpass milestones together with my Surly Long Haul Trucker, a bicycle that I have enjoyed on many tours and training runs

What remains of the original bike reveals the durability of the stock build. The wheelset lasted until last year at about 17,000 miles. Other things that I consider major components are still on the bike. That includes the bottom bracket and cranks, the brake levers and calipers, the stem and fork, and, of course, the frame. After market equipment has also fared well, including the Tubus racks and Shimano clipless pedals.

At this point I have some bragging rights on my bike. There have been occasions for considering a new bike, but now I can’t possibly do that. People like to admire a new bicycle, but they also can’t help being drawn into a story about a bike with 20,000 miles on it. The bike is a continuing challenge for me to achieve the next milestone: 25,000 miles. There is really no reason for me to change from a bike that fits me very well to an unknown bike that is shiny and new.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tire Update

Just before I began my latest self-supported tour from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, I decided it was time to replace the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. After 5000 miles, the tires still had maybe 20% of the tread remaining. However, I did not want to take any chances with tire failure during my tour.

Show the difference between new bicycle tires and tires with 5000 miles of wear
New Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on the left and those with 5,000 miles of use on the right

This is my fourth set of Marathon Plus tires and I got about 5000 miles from each pair. I have used tubes from both REI and Adventure Cycling Association and both have served their purpose. When I replace tires I always use new tubes. To me the chances of a flat due to deteriorating rubber are worse than the chance of a puncture. Between the tires and the tubes, I can’t remember the last time I got a flat tire.

This is another strong recommendation in favor of Schwalbe Marathon Plus bicycle tires from nearly 15,000 miles of use.