Expensive Error

04.23.2008 | 10:02 am

There’s a terrific singletrack network — Corner Canyon, in Draper, Utah — that is almost ridiculously convenient in its location. It is literally on my way home from work, so I can drive partway home, ride for an ninety minutes or so, and then finish my ride home.

Importantly, this trail network doesn’t have a lot of trees shading it, so while a lot of the good local trails in this area are still covered with snow and mud, Corner Canyon — the lower part anyway — is in terrific condition.

I’m going there twice, sometimes three times a week right now. It’s a wonderful place to go riding. In fact, you might say I’m falling deeply in love with Corner Canyon.

But that’s a different story.

Fateful Decision
Last Thursday after work, I drove over to Corner Canyon and started my ride. Recently, I’ve been riding the Superfly — getting to know it — but this time I decided it was time to take out the Single Speed, especially since I plan to ride the SS at RAWROD this weekend.

The SS felt so good.

It had been so long since I had ridden the WaltWorks that I admit I was a little bit worried. Did I have the legs for the SS? Had I been spoiled by gears and a front suspension?

Nope, not at all. It was like coming home. I swear, every time I ride that bike I want to give Walt a big hug.

The sun was out and I had gotten the OK from Susan to spend some extra time on the trail, so I explored a little bit — checking to see where the trails were good, where they got muddy, and where they became snow-covered.

After two hours, I was tired, muddy, and very happy. Time to go home.

I linked up to a trail that would — I supposed — bring me back to the parking lot, but after paralleling the road for a while it veered off to the right, leading away from the road that would take me to the parking lot.

“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just cut across this field and ride the final quarter-mile on the road.”

Which is what I did.

Snap, Crackle, Pop
As soon as I finished riding across the field and hopped the curb onto the pavement, I heard a weird sound: it sounded like I was riding on Rice Krispies. Or maybe on cornflakes.

In reality, unfortunately, I was riding on a thick coating of goatheads — mountain biking’s answer to carpet tacks scattered on the road.

You will have to believe me when I say that there were literally hundreds of these things stuck in my tires.


I stopped, and started pulling the goatheads out. Each time I did, a little hiss of air and ooze of liquid latex would follow.

After about ten minutes, I gave up. There was no way I would get all these out. So I took a picture of the ones that were left. See how many you can count in this section of one tire — be sure to count more than just the intact goatheads themselves; it’s the broken-off ones that are hard to find.

Goathead City

So I took my bike into Racers, where he told me that, sure, if I wanted to spend the time pulling out all those thorns, the tire would probably hold air.

I did the math, the formula of which is as follows:

C = 4(W+F)


C = the personal cost of the time I would spend pulling thorns out of a tire
W = The value of an hour of my work time
F = The value of an hour of my free time, which is 2W, by the way

In other words, since it would take me approximately four hours to find and remove all the hundreds (again, I would like to emphasize that “hundreds” is a literal, non-exaggerated number) of goatheads, during which I would not be working or riding my bike.

Note: I know that some of you will want to quibble that the formula should be either C=4(W) or C=4(F), since I cannot be both working and playing at the same time. To you people (hi Big Mike), I reply that since when I am plucking thorns out of my tires I am neither working nor having fun, this odious task must be worth as much as the work and play value combined. I am not interested in dissenting opinions.

Without wanting to brag, let’s just say that my math demonstrated that C = $3000.00. And that’s too much for tires.

So I asked Racer to do it for me.

Surprisingly, he declined, but offered to sell me a new pair of tires instead, and set them up for the Stans NoTube system at no extra charge.

How could I decline?

Lesson Learned
So, today after work, I’ll be picking up my WaltWorks, now with brand-spanking new Geax Saguaro 29s (highly recommended) mounted, and loaded with a fresh batch of Stan’s sealant.

And I will never ever ever cut across that field again.

I expect I’m not the only one who’s ever made what felt like a totally trivial decision, only to have it turn out to be stupid, embarrassing, and expensive. Oh, and painful, too. By all means, please leave a comment describing your expensive errors. What riding decision do you wish you could take back?


  1. Comment by Epic Adam | 04.23.2008 | 10:22 am

    Well there is that time on the Kokopelli Trail in 2006 that I ate a Mocha flavored Power Gel. The vomiting that followed was not very enjoyable. I don’t use gels anymore…

  2. Comment by Vince | 04.23.2008 | 10:24 am

    I was nice once when riding the Provo Canyon trail. I was on my mountain bike, and a young couple was coming towards me and taking up more than their fair share of the trail. Rather than run them over or run them off the trail, I simply veered off the pavement as I passed.

    Since my time was worth considerably less then than it is now, and because regardless of how much my time was worth I was still broke, I had to spend the time picking the goatheads out of my tires. I did have to replace my tubes though, which served to highlight where the not-so-fine line between “thorn-resistant” and “thorn-proof” is.

  3. Comment by jt | 04.23.2008 | 10:41 am

    Don’t have an anecdote to share, but it’s nice to know what those damn things are called finally. I picked one up on my ride home from work yesterday, one of many I’ve had over the years riding in Phx. I’ve always just thought of them as “those thorn-like things that probably come from tumbleweeds”. Now I know what they really are.

  4. Comment by GooneyRiders | 04.23.2008 | 10:42 am

    I was feeling lazy and had a bag full of books I didn’t want to cart around on my bike.

    Put the bike on the roof of a car to hitch a ride…the 3 month old Waltworks got driven straight into a garage. Crunched the top tube.

    It’s currently sitting very lonley-like in Walt’s garage waiting for attention. Doh!

  5. Comment by Jesse | 04.23.2008 | 10:55 am

    After a crappy day at work, I happily left the parking lot for the local office park crit. I continued the ‘crappy’ themed day by getting dropped mid-race. Exhausted after the race, I failed to secure my bike to the rack. Two miles later, it blew off. Fortunately, all I needed was a new seat, bars and shifters . . . did I mention it was my birthday? Totally sucked, but I learned my lesson.

  6. Comment by Bikerchick_IL | 04.23.2008 | 11:01 am

    I’m only game enough to share my idiotic story because the guy above me fessed up to something similar already. It’s too painful to repeat all the details, but you can connect the dots yourselves, clever boys and girls. The definition of “rack-cident”:

    Take 1 slightly tipsy roadie celebrating an excellent race result earlier that day; add + 1 cherry new Italian steel, beauty racing bike (Rossin, for those old enough to remember); add + 1 Yakima rack + 1 mindless approach into highrise building parking garage door. Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

    Yup, kids. I did the big crunch. The instant it dawned on me, well, it was too late. Yeah, it still kinda smarts re-telling it all these years later. Thanks, Fatty! (but I’ve also had a run-in with goatheads so you do have my sympathy.)

  7. Comment by CLBlood | 04.23.2008 | 11:07 am

    The weather here was cold and wet from February until a few days into April. On Saturday 4/5 my wife and I took off on a rail trail on road bikes, talking about whether we had time to ride 50.

    4 miles out, there’s a privacy fence right up to the edge of a street crossing. The street gets little traffic, and the speed limit is low. I was in the lead, and when I looked around the fence, a pickup truck was almost on me. I yelled stop and hit the brakes. My wife’s front tire hit my rear tire, and she went over the handlebars.

    She broke a collarbone and 5 ribs. When I say it was expensive, I’m not talking about the $370 to get my bike back on the road. I approached that corner too
    fast, but I’m not the one who’s paying for it. Yeah, I’d like to have that one back.

  8. Comment by je | 04.23.2008 | 11:28 am

    feel happy that it was on your mountain bike.

    I have a large empty field at the end of my street. It is a goathead farm.

    Since I live on a cul-de-sac, I must ride past it on my road bike if I want to ride from home rather than drive from home and then ride. I’ve flatted out because of that goathead farm a dozen times in the last year. Each time, I want to take a torch to the field and make sure nothing ever grows there again.

    And while I’m here, I’ll plug my fundraising effort for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I’m pedaling the 206 miles of LOTOJA and trying to do something about cancer in the process.


  9. Comment by TeeBone | 04.23.2008 | 11:41 am

    Now, you mentioned that the new tires will be set up tubeless w/Stans, and you alluded to the fact that the old ones were as well, “Each time I did, a little hiss of air and ooze of liquid latex would follow”. My question is this: why mess with them at all? Countless times I have ridden my bike out on the Farmington Bay causeway working out the dog, and have returned with ka-jillions of Goatheads. I never touch them. That’s what the Stans is for!

  10. Comment by bikedog | 04.23.2008 | 11:44 am

    Maybe it’s the mistake I’m about to make. Due to ride a centuary this weekend and the weather is calling for 43, rain mixed with snow. Hmmm

  11. Comment by axel | 04.23.2008 | 11:47 am

    I have no stupid story to share, but I have had similar incidents. We call them sandburrs here.

    I did find the wikipedia page very interesting though.

    …It has been reported that puncture vine seeds have been used in homicidal weapons in southern Africa; murderers smear them with the poisonous juice of Acokanthera venenata and put them where victims are likely to step.

    …Tribulus terrestris has long been a constituent in tonics in Indian ayurveda practice, where it is known by its Sanskrit name, “gokshura.” It is now being promoted as a booster for the purpose of increasing sex drive. Its use for this purpose originated in Eastern Europe in the 1970’s. Independent studies [6] have suggested that Tribulus terrestris extract slightly increases hormone levels, though leaving them in the normal range.

  12. Comment by Miles Archer | 04.23.2008 | 11:54 am

    I’ve never heard them called goatheads. I always called them puncture vines.

  13. Comment by cyclostu | 04.23.2008 | 12:15 pm

    I myself don’t have any good embarasing/expensive stories, to relate, but after working in a shop through college and moonlighting in the same shop since, I have a couple of good ones that happened to other people. And this isn’t one of those “my friend has this problem…” type things – these really happened to other people and not me (thankfully). The first is more embarassing: the second expensive and downright painful.

    The first one was self-inflicted by a guy that used to work in the shop (we’ll call him Doug – because that’s his name). He had been waiting for his custom painted Fat City Buck Shaver and matching Rock Shox Mag 21 – both were painted black and white in a harlequin style. It finally arrived and he was putting it together on his day off. As you can tell by the make and model of the bike this was awhile ago when it was popular to cut the steerer with NO extra stack heighth and NO spacers. And you guessed it, he cut it too short, the shop didn’t have another fork crown, and he had to wait another 2 weeks to get it in so that he could build his bike. To this day, we still warn each other, especially when working on our own bikes, not to “pull a Doug” and make sure that we have enough steer tube.

    The other one is not pretty, at all. We had two brothers that came down from Georgia (I live in Jacksonville, Fl) for us to work on their stuff. They were a pain and they always mail-ordered parts, bragged about how cheap they got them, and then made us install them on Saturday, our busiest time when we try not to do repairs (BTW – as a side note, nothing chaps a LBS more than talking to a customer for hours about parts and/or bikes and then they go and mail-order it. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BIKE SHOP! Anyways). Well they were coming down one Saturday and had both of their bikes on the roof racks when the racks came loose. The rack, bikes and all, flew off of the top of the car and right underneath the wheels of the 18 wheeler that was right behind them. They were only able to find little pieces and parts – not components mind you, but pieces. We always thought it a bit kharmic, but THAT’S an expensive error.

  14. Comment by graisseux | 04.23.2008 | 12:20 pm

    So every hour of your life you spend neither working nor playing costs you $750? Also, who on earth is paying you $500 an hour to ride your bike? I’d like to get in on some of that. With that kind of money on the line how did you ever let yourself go this winter? Why don’t you just quit your job and ride full-time? For 1000 bucks a pop, I think I’d be willing to brave a little cold weather to get in a two hour ride. Then again, I’m no award-winning blogger and surely can’t comprehend your award-winning ways.

  15. Comment by brokeMBA | 04.23.2008 | 12:21 pm

    I should have listened to my buddy at Razorback when he said, this section is sketchy and then dissapeared down what looked like a 30 foot straight down descent. I followed foolisly, for my experience level at the time, and missed the all-important left turn at the bottom.

    After being launched onto baby head sized quary rocks at 20mph and tearing the fork off the bike on impact, I also couldn’t take a full breath for over a week.

    That I would love to take back.

  16. Comment by dug | 04.23.2008 | 12:26 pm

    i have never made a bike decision i regret.

  17. Comment by tibiker | 04.23.2008 | 12:27 pm

    I theorize that Stan actually planted the original goat head plant around 30 years ago and then set about collecting all the cash from those of us who finally “had enough” and converted to his expensive latex solution/tubeless kit. Think about it, what a great way to ensure your invention would take off.

    I had a very similar experience in Corner Canyon 2 years ago while cutting through a new section of trail. I also had to throw out the tires and buy new ones….Stan’s set up of course. BTW, the guy with me had already done the Stan’s thing and he rode through them without any noticeable air loss, that convinced me it was time to bite the bullet and go tubeless.

  18. Comment by monkeywebb | 04.23.2008 | 12:27 pm

    I, too, rode through a patch of goatheads once, but I only ended up a couple dozen. I went through three tubes before I finally found the last one.
    My other significant bone-headed move was potentially more expensive. My wife got me a great seatpost mounted rack (50 lb capacity!), an aluminum seatpost to go with it, and a spare seat for Christmas. I could turn the aluminum road bike into a commuter simply by switching out the carbon seat post/seat with the rack setup. Genius! My wife effectively doubled the number of bikes I owned and I didn’t even get a new bike! The seatpost switch happens three or four times a week…or at least it did at first.
    Acting on the advice of the shop, I didn’t grease the seatpost since any grease can seriously compromise the integrity of the carbon post. Raise your hand if you just got a clear vision of the aluminum post bonding with the aluminum frame. Yup.
    After leaving it in place for a week it took three people an hour to get the aluminum post out of the frame, and another 1/2 hour to grind the interior of the seat tube to an acceptable sheen to stick any kind of post in there again.
    I recognize that the shop was just trying to help me ruin the frame so I could upgrade to something new but there has to be an easier way. (In actuality the shop boys thought I already had a carbon frame, so their advice was correct. I just wasn’t thinking.)

  19. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.23.2008 | 12:39 pm

    TeeBone et al: You should know by now that the shrewd Fatty never misses an opportunity for an upgrade or new bike. Sure he could have let the Stans work it’s magic, but new tires are more fun.

    I had one hidden thorn that cost me 3 tubes to find. Hence the reason I’m going tubeless this year.

  20. Comment by Anonymous | 04.23.2008 | 12:41 pm

    By your formula I deduce that you claim to make $250/hour? No wonder why you can afford all those bikes!

  21. Comment by aussie kev | 04.23.2008 | 1:28 pm

    I once had a really expensive pair of racing wheels, back in the days when 24 spokes in your front wheel was “wicked” these only had 20, and nice clement silk singles (tubs as we called them back then).
    I was riding home from work and got a flat in my training wheels (tyre ruined ), no worries next day i was on night shift and hadn’t fixed the flat so justifying it to myself as “its only 40km each way” i chose to use my good wheels.
    half way to work in the days way before mobile phones were available i get a flat – the tire was destroyed, obviously i had no spare, so i rode a bit on my very expensive silk tyre. Eventually the silk was that ripped and torn i had no option other than to remove it from the rim and ride the last few klm on the rim alone – it was surprisingly quite nice to ride on.
    At the end of my shift I rode it (on the rim) to my local bike shop that I raced for, just so I could buy a replacement tyre for my training wheels.
    I thought it would be funny to take my wheel I had ridden about 30 km’s on with no tyre into the shop and say “my wheel has a buckle, could you fix it please”. I learnt a big life lesson that day, the person who has sponsored you with cheap cycling equipment and free racing tyres, will not find it as funny as you whilst holding a wheel where the rim is chewed to pieces due to road contact and the hub flange has cracked in numerous places – oh and the silk tyre was for the bin as well.
    Needless to say from that day on I have had a lot more respect for my cycling gear.!!

  22. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 04.23.2008 | 2:01 pm

    I’m sure the formula is missing something, probably an exponential relationship of some kind. After all, the longer you sit doing an unforgiving, mindless task, the longer you have to ride your bike for restorative therapy. So the true cost is the time lost plus the therapeutic time needed.

    Therefore using all the same variable symbols, your decision equation should look like this:

    C=(W+F) x [t + e^(t)]

    t=time (in whatever units you quoted your W and F values)
    e= the natural number (for those of you who aren’t overly precise e is approximated by 2.71828182845904523536…)

    Your version of the equation is for time sapping jobs that you don’t resent, such as helping a friend move house, or cleaning your bike.

    My more complex version of the time cost equation takes into account the perceived increase in cost of your time when doing jobs that are frustrating, meaningless or necessitated by your own laziness* and stupidity*.

    *Laziness and stupidity are generic terms and are in no manner intended to imply that taking a shortcut through unscouted private property is either lazy or stupid.

  23. Comment by Tom | 04.23.2008 | 2:28 pm

    > Please leave a comment describing your expensive errors.

    You mean apart from taking up cycling?

  24. Comment by Marrock | 04.23.2008 | 2:28 pm

    I got you -all- beat… I bought a bike from Wal-mart.

  25. Comment by AMR | 04.23.2008 | 2:46 pm

    I think you happened upon another cyclist’s stash. Did you read the paragraph on Goathead as dietary supplement in the link you gave?
    Claims of increased testosterone, positive effect on red blood cell production, proerectile aphrodisiac properties…

  26. Comment by mark | 04.23.2008 | 3:05 pm

    Are the tires in the picture the Geax saguaro? I’m due for new tires on the 29er and those look like they might be a good choice.

    As for costly mistakes, I was playing soccer during lunch one day a couple of years ago. While trying to slow down from a full sprint, I stepped in a hole. Something popped in my knee. Turns out the “pop” was my PCL and some of my meniscus. The surgery was several thousand dollars, but thankfully my insurance covered the vast majority. Unfortunately, there is no way to truly repair a torn PCL or torn meniscus. It’s the surgical equivalent of sanding down a dented piece of wood furniture until the dent is smooth. The cycling related part of this is that I waited until after Lotoja last year to have the surgery and rode about 160 of the 206 miles with that piece of torn meniscus folded back on itself.

  27. Comment by Born4Lycra | 04.23.2008 | 3:06 pm

    We have a similar weed here called 3 Cornered Jacks where each corner on the seed head is a vicious response by nature against cyclists. The trend across Australia is that each state has its own names for things such as this. Quite a few years ago we had this large week long tour from the heart of South Oz down to Adelaide with overnight stops in various towns with large enough campsites to accommodate 1500 riders and support crew. At one such site on the outskirts of a place called Hawker (our first stop in fact) we were to camp in a field which a couple of us recognised early was infested with 3 Corner jacks. So I put up a large sign at the road entrance in warning riders of their presence. In the morning all the SA Riders went on their merry way and the 300 or so other riders fixing numerous punctures were obviously from interstate. Next time i will remember to put up a sign that says nasty vicious tyre wrecking spiky weeds all over the place – get off and walk!
    As a matter of interest my job took me past the same field a couple of weeks after a bushfire went through. The only things that did not get destroyed were the jacks. The plants were dead but the seeds with spikes were everywhere and the spikes were just as sharp.

  28. Comment by System6 | 04.23.2008 | 3:58 pm

    Road racing last weekend – teammate tells me no need to carry the seat bag since a) big hills ahead, good to shed weight, and b) if you flat, you can catch a ride with one of the officials/wheel trucks/etc. I silently added c) never flatted in a race before, what are the odds anyway?

    So, thirty minutes later I was standing along the side of a rural highway waiting for my mates to finish the race so one could drive out and get me. Not expensive, as mistakes go, but reasonably high up on the Stupid scale.

  29. Comment by Not a cyclist..... | 04.23.2008 | 4:28 pm

    Question for Fatty about goatheads;

    I grew up outside of Denver, and there were these nasty little thorns that seemed to be attached to a weedy-looking plant that grew quite well all over my elementary school’s playground. Whenever you took the slide too fast, or jumped off a swing intending to land on your feet and instead wiping out on one’s hands and face, the result was always being stuck with dozens of the little nasty thorns. We never had a name for them, but when I read your blog today, I suspect the thorns you encountered and I spent much time picking out of my skin, are one and the same. I remember them looking much like a very old piece of squarish bone in the center, with multiple spikes sticking out of them, a sort of whitish-dirtish color You think they might be the same thing? Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, I too have been attacked by tumble-weeds while on a bike. The tumbled weed won.

  30. Comment by Sprocketboy | 04.23.2008 | 4:43 pm

    I guess the stupidist things I have done have involved tire repair, like the time in Sicily when I fixed a flat and then watched the tube pop out of the sidewall and explode as I began to inflate it. Or the almost new tubeless tire I put on this weekend after repairing a hole and installing it so badly I damaged the bead and it is useless. But then again it could have been the time I rode my bicycle into the rear bumper of my own car parked in the driveway. Or when I didn’t get the quick release tight enough and went over the handlebars when the front wheel came off while descending on the first day of a two week holiday in Spain. Or something that did not require a hospital visit: when my chain came off on the Paterberg during the amateur version of the Tour of Flanders and 8,000 Belgians watched me tip over when I could not unclip. Or when I flew to Germany for a bike tour and realized halfway across the Atlantic that I had left my cycling shoes at home. Ah, cycling: it offers so many possibilities as a sport! But riding through a field of goatheads–wow, I am not even close.

  31. Comment by John the Lawyer | 04.23.2008 | 5:22 pm

    I was visiting another part of the state for a few days. Found the local club and asked if I could join for a ride, to which they graciously agreed.

    Strong riders, all. Worked like a dog to not only keep up, but also put in my share of the pulls as “thanks” for letting me sit in. But, with about 10 miles to go, I was bringing up the rear. They kindly slowed the pace.

    At one intersection where I was about, say, 20 feet back from the main group, but with 2 other guys who could easily bridge me up, I got the bright idea to cut a parking lot, get in front of the front group, and take another pull. Genius, and another way to say “thanks.”

    The parking lot was full of stones, and my inner voice clearly, without malice or judgment, just knowledge of what would come, shouted “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

    I did it anyway.

    Instant puncture.

    Quick tire change. By “quick,” I mean 20 minutes of shaking, nausea, and near-blackout from the internal rage I was focusing on myself for not listening to that inner voice. Managed to hand pump the tire up to, oh, 40 psi.

    15 seconds on the bike when…

    Pinch flat.

    I ended up costing this very nice, very patient, very generous group of guys a solid 30 minutes watching me change tires.

    They might still take visitors out on rides. But, I don’t know. I’ll never ask.

  32. Comment by cowboycramer | 04.23.2008 | 6:37 pm

    breaking a chain to clean it and not using a powerlink or shimano pin in the broken link – just putting the old one back in. Cost goes as follows:
    1. Trip to Hurricane, $50 registration fee and the humiliation of only riding one mile of the race.
    2. Rebuilding rear wheel after chain snapped and torqued the wheel too far out of true to fix. (DT 1.1 rim w/ Revoloution spokes)
    3. Repeat #2. Again. Let’s just say I finally learned my lesson.

  33. Comment by Al Maviva | 04.23.2008 | 6:59 pm

    Decision point: going full tilt with a couple friends up to a fast MTB downhill/uphill, with no flatspot at the bottom, akin to the ‘gravity cavity’ at the old Unadilla MX track – or should I ride around it on the rim, get to the other side faster and safer?

    Decision: screw it! I can handle 5 G’s of force at the bottom!

    Result: Chipped teeth, badly bruised hand, shot to the nuts that would make an oak tree shudder, bent top tube, and a lump sticking out between my ribs 13 years later. Yeah, I’d like that one back.

    Decision point: On a fast MTB ride (noticing a theme) on a flowing downhill, tap the brakes before the babyhead turn, or try to rail it?

    Decision: Screw it! I got this!

    Error: Whoops… that’s a surprisingly big stump in between the baby heads…

    Consequence: concussiony goodness, bent up bike, fouled up wrist, back and knees. Trees and rocks were only minimally harmed in the filming of this incident.

  34. Comment by Emily | 04.23.2008 | 7:17 pm

    Years ago I made a similar decision to cut across a field, riding alone at sunset at the end of a ride long enough to cloud my judgement. Little did I know there was a sinkhole in the middle of the field, about the right size to swallow a front wheel. I did not know this because it was late summer and the field was covered in high grass– the grass in the hole was high enough to blend into the rest of the field.
    I was not riding fast enough to get thrown over the handlebars, nor riding slow enough to just flop over sideways. No, I was riding at exactly the right speed to get totally up-ended, balancing on my front wheel, seeing my doom in front of me for a couple panicky seconds… and then come crashing down.
    I took the stem right in the midsection, and one brake lever in the knee. Then I lay there for a half hour or so as it got dark around me, resolving never to ride alone again (a resolution I almost immediately broke of course). Eventually I got up and finished the ride and have been extremely wary of riding across any open grassy field ever since.

  35. Comment by Rocky | 04.23.2008 | 7:24 pm

    Descending one of the local trails at a high rate of speed is fun. Ever present is the temptation to carry accumulated speed through a dip that more often that not results in at least one pinch flat. After the dip, the trail has one final climb of about 1/4 mile and then a descent of the same length to get to the parking lot. Got the picture? It’s down, up, and then down again.

    So a couple of years ago I chose not to shed the speed at the dip. I should have known better as I felt the unmistakable “clunk” of the rim against the rocks under my wheel. Instead of doing the smart thing and changing out the compromised tube, I thought I could beat the hiss.

    I did very well to the top of the hill and as I started my very fast last descent the hissing stopped. Momentarily, so did I. The front wheel washed out as it went totally flat under the pressure of the descent. The gravel road shredded me from top to bottom. What a Stoopid move.

  36. Comment by Primal | 04.23.2008 | 8:14 pm

    Arhh Fatty.

    You are a man of my own heart. I like the calculation but I see this as taking up 0.125 of an hour for me to calculate. Which in turn added more weight to the argument for the “F = The value of an hour of my free time, which is 2W, by the way”

    I look at it this way. I live in a economy, in our current economic global downturn it’s my duty to support local business and the economy by applying the age old tradition of trading hard cash for services. It’s a win, win situation for all.

  37. Comment by Guanajuato | 04.23.2008 | 8:27 pm

    Goatheads have done me in personally too many times to count. I have found that it is best to leave ‘em. They stop up their own holes, and the Stan’s fills in where they can’t. It’s fantastic when you can hear them like studs on studded snow tires on the pavement. I am always afraid they will make my wheels slide out from under me when there are so many in my tires.

  38. Comment by DNAtsol | 04.23.2008 | 8:41 pm

    Since it’s been awhile since I’ve commented, I would say that my “free” time has been in scarce supply. However, being a scientist, I have to give kudos to your attempt at quantifying the value of your time. There is a certain beauty in a nice algorithm that transcends the specific topic and applies to a more general problem.

    That said, I think you vastly undervalued “W”. Freetime is precious to me and worth far more that the equivalent hourly/salary wage of equivalent job time.

    In my estimation, pulling the goatheads was equivalent to my tax bill (but maybe I’m biased :) ) and that is no small price in terms of time sweat OR tears.

  39. Comment by ibisss | 04.23.2008 | 9:33 pm

    My biggest mistake wasn’t expensive–just painful. I was riding up the road to the trails on mt Tzouhalem, when I noticed my computer sensor was too far away from the wheel. I thought “I am riding up this hill at about 5mph, I’ll just tap it with my foot.” I pulled my shoulder pretty bad, but I kept on riding. The following week my side really started to hurt, so I went to the hospital. Seems I broke two ribs, that still ‘click’ when I lay improperly.
    (This was about 15 years ago. My mother’s response was ‘That’s what you get for riding on the Lord’s day.”)

  40. Comment by Alex from ZA | 04.23.2008 | 10:26 pm

    Ah, yes. We call them “Devil thorns” here.
    And forget bike tyres, I worry about my CAR tyres with these things.

  41. Comment by Little1 | 04.23.2008 | 10:54 pm

    aarrrgghh Alex beat me to it, but “devil” thorns is a much more apt name don’t you think?

    stupidest mistake… don’t know i was concussed!

  42. Comment by william | 04.24.2008 | 1:15 am

    I left my Oakley Titanium Spike sunglasses on the train on monday. That was an expensive mistake and 100% my own stupid fault.
    I am still kicking myself

  43. Comment by Jared | 04.24.2008 | 4:10 am

    “Hey dude, this party’s dying down. Let’s ride around and see if we can find another one.”

    It’s amazing how expensive 9 staples are.

    Waking up in a heap with a t-shirt around your bloody noggin’ is always pretty exciting too.

  44. Comment by Kevin | 04.24.2008 | 4:27 am

    One of my riding buddies and I were doing a weekend in the North Carolina Mountains (not quite the Rockies, but still very nice). Well, we saw a jump that looked fun, and my buddy had his camera, so we decided to take pictures of each other trying to jump it. After a short helicopter ride to the hospital and a night in the emergency room, I had a broken elbow, a separated sholder, some stitches above my eye, and a big insurance bill to show for it. Suprisingly though, the only thing that broke on my bike was the clear plastic covering on the rear shifter’s indicator.

    As a side note, I’ve never seen or heard of these goathead things before. They must not exist in the southeast US.

  45. Comment by Al Maviva | 04.24.2008 | 4:42 am

    Rocky, that was remarkably stupid – “my tire is nearly flat so I’ll just rail this curvy descent.” Classic. I’m rather impressed. Hey, who needs a super collider when we have a rich source of Dense Matter right here?

  46. Comment by kitchen sink | 04.24.2008 | 5:05 am

    Riding the mountain bike, decided to ride over the small twig about 3/8″ diammeter lying across the trail; no probs, done it 10,000 times before. WRONG. This twig is the Karma equaliser. It somehow gets caught up in the rear wheel, whips around and cuts through the hydraulic brake line, spraying the contents all over the disc and wheel. It then continues it’s magical mystery tour around the wheel and into the derailleur. The force then ripping the hanger in half leaving derailleur jammed in the rear wheel.

    Two weeks without the bike waiting for parts and about $250 worth of parts, 4 trips to the LBS, and about 4 hours work….

  47. Comment by sans auto | 04.24.2008 | 8:04 am

    We always called them tackweed.

    People ask my wife why she walks (pushing a jogging stroller with inflatable tires) in the street rather than on the sidewalks in Spanish Fork… Goatheads. After a couple weeks of flat tires almost daily from goatheads in the cracks of the sidewalks, she now uses the streets.

  48. Comment by Boz | 04.24.2008 | 8:18 am

    Back in ‘75, young, dumb, few of —, I enter my first crit on my new top end Sakae w/ all the best Suntour grouppo. It had rained the night before, and one part ran though a paking lot w/ a large puddle to skirt around. It was pyloned off, so of course I was squeezed to the inside. Instead of backing off, I jumped out of the saddle, accellerated, touched the edge of the water. Of course, the Italian sew-ups didn’t care for the water, hydroplaned, and I touched down on the pavement, catching my inner knee, which in turn launched me into a nice cartwheel. I only took out 1 other guy, no damage to him, luckily, but bent my bikes crank, bars, tacoed rear wheel, 1 broken lever and pedal. I still have a nasty knee scar to show for it. Plus, a bunch of guys yelled at me. Can’t imagine why.

  49. Comment by kenny | 04.24.2008 | 10:06 am

    I’ve been trying to do my own wrenching for awhile now. I was at the shop trying to bleed my juicy ultimates. I couldn’t find any avid brake fluid. Racer wasn’t in the shop that day or he would have corrected my error. Any way I used hayes hydralic fluid thinking that they’re all pretty similiar. Big mistake!! I ruined all the rubber seals in both the calipers and the levers. Sometimes you just have to learn things the hard way.

  50. Comment by Caloi Rider | 04.24.2008 | 10:33 am

    Hey non-cyclist. I’m pretty sure those were goatheads.

    They sorta look like a miniature goat’s head with two very sharp spikes poking out where an actual goat’s head would have ears. They start out green and moist, but then they quickly dry up, harden and turn dirt brown. Oh, and they’re ubiquitous in Western Colorado (that bush used to grow between some of the cracks in the sidewalks in Grand Junction).

    They’re the only thorns I know that can penetrate a thorn-resistant tube.

  51. Comment by Rocky | 04.24.2008 | 12:41 pm

    Why thank you Al. I was impressed with myself, as well, right up until the front wheel abruptly dumped me hard.

  52. Comment by Jay Peitzer | 04.24.2008 | 2:17 pm

    Been there done that. The very first long bike ride I ever did I was probably 12. Rode out to LAX with three friends. Cut accross a field flattened all eight tires had to call his mom to pick us up. Fortunately for me I was riding a borrowed bike and didn’t have to pay for new tires and tubes. Although I did in fact fix everyones tires being the only one who knew how. The second ride we did involved riding out to Griffith Park. That one ended almost the same way with one of the guys thinking the wing nut(no quick release it was a Schwinn racing bike….sort of)on the the front wheel was loose. Thought he could tighten it while we were still moving. Stuck his foot through the spokes and did a fantatic summersault bike and all. Bent the fork and split his chin open. Once again out came mom to rescue us. That was the last ride I did with those guys. I’m not sure if they ever made it back on their own.

  53. Comment by Not a cyclist..... | 04.24.2008 | 5:17 pm

    Hey Caloi Rider;

    Thanks for the feedback. I now remember they did start out green and then turn color as they dry. They can also penetrate: sneaker soles, nerf balls (to which they attach like velcro), kickballs, all clothing, you name it, even rock! Ok, that one I made up, but goatheads really suck.

    Now in Georgia, you walk through the woods in the summer and come out covered with “hitchhikers” which are flat green thorns covered in super-sticky-stuff, but they don’t pop tires like goatheads.

  54. Comment by Errr.... | 04.24.2008 | 8:45 pm

    regret me no helmit wearing.

  55. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 04.24.2008 | 11:10 pm

    Rocky, You’re related to the author so you get automatic stupid points. On that basis I don’t think you did anything particulary outstanding.

    Happy ANZAC Day.
    Lest We Forget.

  56. Pingback by A Sadly familiar story. « In The Spin | 04.25.2008 | 5:21 am

    [...] Expensive Error [...]

  57. Comment by Evin | 04.27.2008 | 4:29 am

    Here is my brain fart experience. Routines are good, deviations from routine are troublesome. With my Tahoe parked at the trailhead, another vehicle was pulled beside the driver side and encroached upon my ability to prop the bike between the tire and wheel well of the Tahoe as is customary when removing the front wheel and mounting the bike on the roof rack. So I used the passenger side to accomplish my task. Only problem is the last thing I saw prior to getting in the driver side door, starting the engine and backing out of my space was the gravel of the parking lot. Alas my front wheel was on the unseen side of the Tahoe. I decidedly ordered a entire new upgraded wheelset and while I was at it upgraded the mechanical disc brakes to the Juicy 7’s. I tacod the wheel with several tons of Tahoe. I guess you might say I had a Tahoe Taco experience.

    Note to self, create a new/improved routine for breaking down the bike.

  58. Comment by Si | 04.28.2008 | 8:04 am

    I was travelling back from the 4th round of the Gorrick Exxodus Spring Series in Surrey England. I was last to finish the race as my racing partner had (wisely given the conditions) pulled out after the first lap, so whilst I staggered around ready to pass out after the race, my mate and my girlfriend were happy to load the bikes onto the car and we set off for home. We got about half an hour down the rather busy motorway when a car came up behind us flashing his lights like crazy and it was at this point that my girlfriend said the dreaded words “Si we’ve lost a bike!”…to cut a long and very very scary story short, the bike was lying in the middle of the busy motorway for 15 minutes. We got the bike back (it was about 2 miles back up the motorway) without causing any accidents miraculously. The bike (a race prepared Turner) was ok apart from a scuff on the pedals, scuffing on handlebar end caps and the brake caliper mount was snapped off. Whilst fixing the forks Pace also told us that there was a hair line fracture in the carbon of the fork stantions…given that we could have caused an accident or much worse…I think we got off lightly. Next time I’ll make sure I check the bikes are properly loaded onto the rack, being my responsibility and all.

  59. Comment by unimayor | 04.28.2008 | 12:05 pm

    i held my dog’s leash and handlebar with my left hand and shifted with my right just as she stopped to poop! slapppp


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.