I know that some people are afraid to venture off road on road tires, but you might be surprised how versatile a good road tire can be.
We were cycling along the coast in Wellfleet, Mass., when we came upon this spectacular fire road.
The sand road, which is no more than a narrow trail in some stretches, runs trough several miles of dunes and saltwater marshes. You can see the depth of the sand here by the tire tracks on the left and the foot prints on the right.
There were no other cyclists on the trail and at first we did not think that our bicycles could handle it, but apparently they could. We rode at a slow and even pace without incident, enjoying the gorgeous views that were inaccessible from the road.
We both have 32mm tires on our Motobecanes: mine are Panaracer Pasela Tourguards and his are Continental Ultra GatorSkins. Both of these have good kevlar protection and are pretty fast on the road. Great to know that they perform off road as well. The above photo gives a pretty good sense of the depth of the sand we were able to cycle through. If you have never encountered sand on a bicycle before, the thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid making sudden or sharp turns. If you need to turn, make it a very wide turn and do it smoothly and gradually.
Here is a deeper pile of sand where we had to stop and walk the bikes (or in my case, push the bike forward with my feet). There were a couple of these patches, but not many.
As the trail wound closer to the water's edge, the sand became increasingly wet and covered in shards of sea shells.
Here is a close-up. We rode through that too.
I was worried that the sea shell shards might puncture our tires, and here I am yelling something to that effect. But in the end we decided to go through with it, and que sera sera.
The tires emerged filthy, but intact.
Cycling through the sand felt wonderful, especially since it gave us access to places that would otherwise have gone unexplored. One does not necessarily need a mountain bike just to go on some fire trails, even if they involve dunes and marshes. Invest in good tires with kevlar protection and don't underestimate your roadbike!