Jack of all (bike) trades
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Jose, CA
Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker for Touring, Motobecane Immortal Force for road racing, Old Trek 2300 for time trials, Specialized Hardrock for getting over rocks and through mud and snow
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Offroad with narrow, high pressure tires
Hey guys, general newbie, and first-timer to the cyclocross board. I figured you guys would have the most insight into this question...
I recently did a long ride (185 Miles from Boston to Gorham, NH). My final destination was a lodge that lies about 1/3 mile from the road. The path from road to door is a snowmobile path with varying degrees of incline, mostly medium-sized gravel with some hard-packed sections and some bigger, loose gravel interspersed. The bike I took for the trip was my Trek 2300 road (racing) bike, with 25mm slick tires at roughly 100-110 psi. I had about 15 lbs of hear on my rear rack.
I had originally intended to walk my bike along this last stretch, assuming there was no way I'd make it up. It started raining heavily about 8 miles from the end of the ride, and I just wanted it to be over, so I rode up the trail, along with my riding partner who was on a surly touring bike with 28mm slick tires.
We both made it up this trail without issue. It was wet from the downpour, and during the whole thing, the only time I lost traction was on a wet wooden sleeper that I had to hop onto and over that was retaining the trail. It was slightly after peak leaf-peeping time, so there were plenty of wet leaves on the trail, too.
My question is this: why were we able to make it up so easily? I would've expected the narrow high pressure tires would have dug a rut and gotten stuck, especially on the steeper parts. I've gone up the same trail on my mountain bike in similar rainy conditions and not felt any more in control. Did I somehow gain stability? Or did I just underestimate the traction of wet rubber?
My apologies if these seems like a very long-winded post to ask a silly question... I guess it is.