Tuesday, December 28, 2010
While we had quickly discovered that nothing beat real carbide tipped studs, it was the tire liners that were our achilles heel. Every liner we tried - lawn chair webbing, kevlar sail cloth, another inner tube, and dozens of others always failed. And they failed at the worst time possible. Seemed we were always the farthest from our cars or home when they cracked, moved or otherwise allowed the stud to wiggle enough to cause a flat. One incarnation I came up with got me so excited, I rushed down to Mousam Lake to try them out. Without the right clothing on, or any spare tubes, I headed up the lake. The lake is about 4 miles long. At 4 miles, both tires went flat. I had to walk back to my truck in bone chilling cold in street shoes and a light jacket.........Ah, the memories of being caught stupid.
Eventually we figured out that another lighter weight tire with the steel bead cut out laid into the studded tire would work and work every time. The tires were heavy, but they were dependable. And since there was no decent ice tire out there, I began to produce studded tires for sale. I guess by the time I stopped making studded tires, I had made and sold over a hundred pairs of them. Each tire had 200 hand drilled holes that were then stuffed by hand with 200 studs. When I finally had it down, I could produce a tire in about two hours. Sold them for $125/pair. Once the materials were accounted for, that meant I was making maybe 5 bucks an hour. Oh well, it was all about being a good bike shop anyway. Some things you do just because.
I find it humorous that many folks consider my winter riding to be odd, yet do not even bat an eye at folks who downhill ski, cross country ski, snow shoe, or any of the other outdoor activities humans engage in outside when the temps drop. Ice riding is just another way to enjoy the outdoors in the cold. Dress appropriately and the woods and more importantly the lakes become a playground year round. I love winter riding. Nothing like the buzz of 600 studs biting into the ice or the sound the lakes make as they crack, groan and settle as the sun heats up their surface. Frozen creek beds become brand new trails to explore. Swamps offer whole new areas to explore. Wild life is often caught off guard and I get the chance to see critters I would not normally see in the woods. And sometimes an ice fisherman will invite you in for a beer and some conversation.