Where the Author Repents Her Stubborn Ways & Learns to Love Her New HED Wheels and Continental Tires

11:23 AM

I only have myself to blame.  When I first got my road bike I rode in fear of flat tires.  I was worried about being out on the road alone with a flat and not remembering all the proper steps in the process.  The first flat, when it did happen, was fixed easily enough - the spouse was along on the ride, and it turns out that there are not that many steps in the undertaking (and none of them are all that complicated).  Once we figured out how the CO2 cartridge worked, everything turned out fine.


But I still remember that feeling I had when we were standing on that corner wrestling with my rear wheel - so very far from home.  I know it is silly, but I actually felt a bit betrayed by my bike (yes, I realize this is on the far end of ridiculous in terms of taking things too personally, but I can't help it).

The next spring I had a difficult couple of weeks where I had about three flats.  In frustration and desperation I went to my LBS for a new set of tires.  The salesman asked me one question (really, a bit of a statement) in helping me select my new tires, "You never want to have a flat tire again, right?"  Then he pulled down a pair of Continental Gator Skins.

I have ridden the Gator Skins for three happy years with only one flat (turns out they couldn't withstand a four inch nail).  These things are absolutely fantastic at shrugging of all types of road crap that will flat out those thin road-racing tires preferred by my peers.  It seemed like a no-brainer to me - I wasn't a road racer, so why would I want a soft pair of racing tires?

Well, hello there, pretty!
Now comes the embarrassing part where I have to admit that I was totally and utterly wrong.  This week I picked up my new HED Ardennes LT wheels (oh, so pretty) and the Spouse forbade me from dishonoring these amazing wheels with the Gators, so we selected a nice pair of Continental Grand Prix tires.  The first thing I noticed, not surprisingly, was how easy they were to install since they were foldable tires and lacked the very stiff metal bead of the Gators.




…and then I got them out on the road.  This is going to sound trite, but it was like riding a whole new bike.  Part of it was the wheels (I dropped an entire pound by getting rid of my bomb-proof stock wheels), but I think much of my initial reaction stems from the suppleness of the new tires.  The rubber is so soft and grippy, and when installed on the wide rims of the Ardennes they provide me with a counterintuitive ride that is both more comfortable and more precise in cornering. 

I’m having so much fun diving corners on these things I may actually think about the possibility of conceivably considering, perhaps, entering a crit (maybe)…

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