Goat Heads and Bicycle Tires–Oh no!

These guys are killers for bicycle tires and little feet! They will flatten a bicycle tire in no time. On our upcoming Southern Tier bicycle tour this coming April (2022), some of the roads will be armed and dangerous with these little guy.

From West Texas Organic Gardening,”Tribulus terrestris is a plant in the family Zygophyllaceae. Many people refer to this family of plants as the caltrop family because of the hard sharply pointed seed pods produced by these broadleaf plants.” They occur in arid areas. As a kid, we lived in the West Texas town of Kermit, which sits on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert just east of the Trans-Pecos area. I went barefooted a lot those two years we lived there and can remember even now my painful encounters with these horrid nightmares. The spines are hard and go deep. They have to be dug out. Ouch!

These guys are not just a West Texas phenomenon. They are found worldwide. Very adaptable, like most weeds. I was just reading a bicycle touring book by William Spencer, Far Sweeter than Honey: Searching for Meaning on a Bicycle (2020) about an 8,000 bicycle tour from Europe through Pakistan, Iran, Israel, on his way to India. He took the tour in the 1970’s when he was in his 20’s. He talks about running into patches of goat heads in these countries and having to stop every few feet and repair another puncture. It was slow going to say the least. The upside, he got really fast at making tire repairs. This book is much more than just a travel log by the way. It is a spiritual journey. He ended up spending three years at an ashram in India before he returned back home.

James Giambusso, my co-touring partner on this venture, and I were discussing these little landmines the other day as our plans for the tour develop. (I’ll be posting an update shortly.) You can get special (read expensive) tires that are goat-head resistance tough. I have a new set of bicycle tires I’ve already bought for the tour that were pretty expensive already. I really don’t plan on buying these additional tires at this time.

On the main part of the highways we will be traveling through West Texas, cars and trucks will have picked up most of the goat heads. However, a lot of times we will be riding on the shoulders. (Yes, in Texas, unlike South Carolina, most of the roads have shoulders.) My plans are to use leak-stop gue in my inner tubes. This is what I used as a kid in my bicycle tires, and now they have all kinds of techy stuff, e.g., Flat Attack.

Wish me luck. Gassho

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