Expensive Error

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.

Hundreds.

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)

where:

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?

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