The Naked Mule

The Mule seems to be attracting a lot of road debris this year. On my bike tour in Oregon, the rear fender trapped a chunk of truck tire tread. The tread worked into my rear tire and caused my first flat in ages.

Fast forward to autumn. The winds are blowing and tree branches are falling. The smaller stuff seems to end up on the shoulders of roads. Last week I was riding along lost in my typical riding trance when I came upon a small tree branch on the pavement ahead. I had no pavement to my right and cars to my left so I rode over the branch. Just like the tire tread, the branch managed to clear my front wheel without a problem but it became caught up under my rear fender. The force of the impact tore the bottom off my rear fender. I managed to ride with it on for a while but the damage was so extensive I had to remove the fender.

The Mule had a bare bottom for the first time in its life. Eek.

Today I was riding through a park on the Mount Vernon Trail when I came upon what looked to be a small tree branch no more than a few inches long. Alas, it was just long enough to get sucked up under my front fender. Can you say instant replay? Well, I was going to have to buy a new fender set anyway so it’s not much of a loss. The Mule is now naked front and rear.

Second fender trashed in a week. The Mule is naked.
Front wheel of The Mule with removed broken front fender.

I suppose it could have been worse. Neither fender incident resulted in damage to the wheels or the tires. Speaking of tires, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tire in the picture above has well over 5,000 miles on it. I suspect it will last at least another 3,000 miles.

10 thoughts on “The Naked Mule

  1. I had to chuckle! But sorry for your loss… I’ve had numerous broken fenders over the years so I feel your pain. All resulted from sticks getting caught, like you.

    1. I replaced the fenders on my Cross Check a couple of months ago. Don’t remember what went wrong. The rear fender on my Bike Friday died of metal fatigue. Twice. It’s going naked.

  2. I’ve used those tires…they are certainly tough, but they ride hard which coupled with an unloaded touring bike it can give you an even rougher ride. Check out Panaeacer Gravel Kings or Rene Herse tires…

  3. Schwalbe Marathon Plus for the winnnnn. Do you ride yours on gravel? I eventually want to replace the tires on my gravel bike, but I have Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on my hybrid and they seem…dainty. Even though I know they are supposed to be VERY strong.

    1. I ride them on the C&O Canal towpath all the time. It’s hard dirt near DC and packed limestone further upstream. I’ve also ridden the GAP Trail which is packed limestone. For serious gravel Schwable makes an entire lineup of gravel tires but for the tamer stuff Marathons, Marathon Pluses and Plus Tours and Mondials all work fine. The latter three have more tread than the Marathons and they have strong sidewalls.

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