I made it back into Denver, or more accurately, Morrison, Colorado on Sunday, September 12. Last post I was just riding out of the Sand Hills of Nebraska. I made my way to Kimball, Fort Morgan, and Byers, Colorado. Along the way I found myself on some pretty rustic 2 track roads.
I camped here one night which was on some sand dunes. In the morning an antelope came by and was not concerned about me at all, which was unusual. He was even curious, slowly coming closer to me to get a better look. Eventually he wandered away but it was a cool experience. No photo, sorry.
Some back roads resembled a Mars landscape. Just dirt and cut wheat fields.
Well, there were also a ton of goatheads. What’s a goathead? Read on.
Tire Problems, Again
For cyclists, farmers, joggers with strollers and anyone else rolling their tires outside in the Western United States, the dreaded goathead season has begun. From late spring until around October, goatheads are one of the leading causes of flat tires in fields, backyards, trails and roadways.
Also known as “puncture vine,” or the more ominous “Devil’s thorn,” goathead vines produce little burs or thumbtacks with horns that are sharp enough to puncture tires found on bicycles, wheelbarrows, small trailers, jogging strollers and other lawn equipment.
You might be thinking, “How bad can these little burs really be?” Goathead infestations became so terrible in one town that they issued a bounty for the plant’s arrest. In June 2014, the town of Irrigon, Oregon announced it would pay a bounty of one dollar for each large trash bag of puncture vine that was collected.
The goathead vine:
Here’s what happens when you ride over a vine of goatheads.
Close up of the buggers.
I have not had much experience with these devils so I was not looking out for them. Before I knew it I had hundreds of them sticking out of my tires. As I may have mentioned, I am using tubeless tires this trip for the first time. Tubeless tires are like your car tire in that they have, well, no tubes. But you have to pour in a liquid sealant so that if a puncture occurs, the sealant will fill the hole, solidify, and stop the leak. This seems to work very well except when there are dozens of punctures. What happened to me was so much sealant was required that I used it all up and my front tire went flat.
At first I was dismayed that the tire had ripped like my rear one a week before. I had visions of having to hitchhike to town to get a new tire. But after removing the goatheads, refilling the tire with sealant, and pumping it up again, the tire stayed inflated. So thankfully it just needed more sealant.
Then a few days out of Denver I was riding along and I heard a hissing sound from my rear tire. I stopped and would you believe that after only 200 miles my new tire that I bought in Scottsbluff already was ripping apart at the bead? What the hell is going on? Tires are supposed to last 3000 miles! I was incredulous and apprehensive. Now what? I was in the middle of nowhere again and no bike shop around for miles. I took the tire off and the rip was very small, but still big enough to let air out so something had to be done. So I took out my sewing kit again and sewed the gap shut then put a tube in to relieve the stress on the rip. I pumped it up and it held, but I was nervous the whole way back, expecting the tube to blow out at any second. Fortunately I was only about two days from finishing and I managed to ride the whole way without further incident. But I need to do a lot of research now to find a good quality tire. What a pain.
Drive Safe, Please
In my many miles of cycling I have come across hundreds, if not thousands, of memorials by the side of the road remembering people who were killed in car accidents. In a car you are unlikely to notice them or even less likely to stop and read who it was. But I do, and I always wonder about the victims. Who were they? How did they end up in such a tragic end? I really want to know the circumstances of their death. Was it a hit and run? Were they pedestrians who were hit? Did they fall asleep? Was alcohol involved? Speeding?
I even had the thought of writing a macabre book with each chapter dedicated to someone whose memorial I passed by. Here’s one in Nebraska. It looks like three people died here, one named Sean. I did not get Sean’s age but often the victims are young, like under 30.
Here’s one in Colorado near Denver. In this case I googled the name Bren Giesler and there was a newspaper article about her. In August, 2019 Brenda Giesler, 52, was driving on highway 470 when a semi traveling in the opposite direction blew a tire and the driver lost control. He swerved across the median and hit Brenda head on, killing them both.
In that case it seems to be just a fluke. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Probably not much she could have done. But the semi truck driver should have checked his tires. maybe there was some sign it was wearing out and might fail. In any case, a tragic accident.
This next one is bad too. It is for Cassandra Persichetti. She died in July, 2020, just 17 years old. Here are some photos and a bit about her that were at the memorial at the side of the road.
I googled her name but could not find out any details of the death. She died in a car accident, that’s about all I could find out.
So for anyone who reads this, please drive safely and defensively. Don’t speed, don’t tailgate, pay attention.
Moving, on I was fast approaching my final destination of Morrison, Colorado.
A bike trail near Morrison.
Finally got to Golden, 20 lbs lighter.
Once back, we enjoyed the elk bugling during mating season.
That’s it for now. Here is my route, for the record.
I will take a 5 week hiatus, fix a bunch of issues with my bike, then get back on the road at the end of October headed for Mexico. That’s right, I’m doing another tour down south. This time riding from Phoenix, Arizona to Mérida in the Yucatan peninsula. Should take me about three months. Stay tuned.