One of the chores I’ve been putting off for years was replacing the tires on my LeMond Maillot Jaune road bike. The old tires were slick as ice. Because I have other bikes I have been lazy about changing those old tires.
Changing tires is one of my least favorite chores. It is also an inexpensive chore to farm out to a bike shop. Since the shop is selling a customer new tires installing them can typically be done for a small addition fee. In some cases as low as $5.00 per tire or even free when you purchase new tires. (I like free)
I’d tried to get this done in Elizabeth City, North Carolina at the one bicycle shop in town. I dropped the bike off expecting the new tires within a matter of days. Weeks later the Maillot Jaune was still wearing old sad tires. Rather than wait any longer I picked up the bike and connected it to my Computrainer where a flat wouldn’t leave me out in the sticks changing a tube that would likely go flat before I made it home. There, on the Computrainer is where this wonderful all Campy Record equipped bike sat for years. When we moved and I took the bike off the trainer. It was packed along with our household possession onto a large truck.
Once the movers arrived at our new home in Georgia the bike like everything else was off loaded from the truck.
So, being detached from the trainer the LeMond was going to have another try at getting new tires. I removed its Kovochi wheels and took them to Sunshine Cycle’s in Watkinsville. There I’d finally select new tires.
The wheels wore old Continental’s that were 21mm in width. That is narrow. All my other road bike tires are 23mm wide. Now, there are all manner of “research data” related to bicycle tire width. If you’re a serious cyclist you’ve already read a lot of that tire width research. I, too, have read a good amount of the work on tire width. Honestly, I don’t care a whole lot about the data presented in most of the papers I read. I care about the feeling I get from where the tire meets the road.
I love the feel of 21mm tires. I love the sound they make rolling on the road. Most of all it is being able to feel the road. So, I tried to get another set of 21mm tires to replace the old. It is a rare tire, the 21mm, and I didn’t expect to find them at Sunshine Cycle’s. They didn’t have any 21mm, so I bought 23mm along with new tubes. The work was done is about 30 minutes.
Even though the job for Sunshine was a fast bit of labor I didn’t want to wait having other errands to run. I came back the next day to settle my bill and get the wheels. When I picked up the wheels as a bonus I got a free lecture.
There are people in the world that are self-proclaimed experts or know-it-alls. I suppose they’re good-natured folks that believe sharing their wisdom is a mission. When I cross paths with such an expert I must wear a look of ignorance because too often I get a free lecture.
I always listen. There are times when the wizard’s pontifications reveal pearls of knowledge that I don’t yet own. Even lectures where the information shared is already in my head I listen to be polite. Picking up my wheels, I had to listen to be polite. However, the speaker nearly crossed a line.
That line is where the actor orates in a manner of speaking down to his audience of one. He will further throw out the affidavits of others to bring home his point. In that bike shop presentation, of which I will not repeat to prevent blood oozing from your eyes, I was put into my place for wanting 21mm tires.
I was admonished by the expertise of what the “Cat 1 and Cat 2” riders are currently sporting on their wheels. My reprimand for the 21mm tires was non-stop while the reasons for my error highlighted the room.
Let me state that Sunshine Cycle’s is one of the best bike shops in the world. I’ve been visiting the shop off and on for about a quarter of a century. I’ve been in bicycle shops all over the world. My all time favorite the Yellow Jersey in Savannah, Georgia is gone. My second favorite Star Bike shop is still in Savannah. Sunshine is tied with Star for first place since the Yellow Jersey is gone. Second place is the Bianchi bike shop in Florence, Italy. When I raced in Italy, they were a great help getting me signed up for races.
Now, I don’t know what other “Cat 1 or Cat 2” riders are currently using on their bikes. I stopped bicycle racing in 2011 and had been focused on triathlon since 2006. I suppose if a cyclist is racing Paris-Roubaix his bike might be rolling 25mm or 28mm tires. Like I said, I don’t know. As a former, “Cat 1 or Cat 2” cyclist, I do know what it is I like to have on my wheels and 23mm is wide enough for me with the occasional 21mm to get a feel for the road. But, I suppose I just have that look that projects ignorance with a need to be lectured. Despite the speaker’s intent, I will order 21mm and ride them.