Hi - My wife and I recently did the Washington State portion of the PCH. We had intended to do much more, but the rain continued to fall. So, we decided to regroup and try Oregon in a week or so. Anyway, my wife's Surly had a strange failure.
Background: We bought her Surly via Criag's List, and put new tires on, back in March. We began training, staying almost exclusively on good paved surfaces. I could get the exact distance from the logs, but we certain put less than 1000 miles on the tires, with about 250 miles under various loads. We've always been careful about the tire pressures. I did a general check of her bike before we left, and did some general tuneups.
Tour Preps: We took the Starlight up, with the bikes safely boxed in their AMTRAK boxes. We unpacked and assembled the bikes in Portland, and rode to our motel. The next morning, we rode back to the station and took the Cascade up to Seattle, rode to the Bremerton Ferry, and on to our motel. I don't think the bikes were ever out of our sight.
Touring: The first tour day was from Bremerton to Shelton, with rain and drizzle most of the way. The second morning, we were trying to do at least Shelton to Elma, also in the rain. Almost immediately in the ride, my wife noticed her rear wheel was rubbing against the brake. So, standing in the rain, I looked it over, noticing the wheel was a little out of true. Thinking I could work on it when we got to our next hotel (since camping was slipping away in the rain, I opened up her brakes a little and we set out. After about 20 miles, she blew out her rear wheel. I looked the tire over closely as I replaced the tube, looking for something that would cause the blow out. I saw the damage to the tire and knew the old dollar bill trick would never work. So, we hitched a ride to Elma, and eventually got another tire (a whole different story).
More Bike Work: She had several loose spokes, which were tightened. But her rear wheel was making "funny" noises. We rode to Centralia and caught a train down to Vancouver, since Centralia has no bike shops. They repacked the rear hub and put in new bearings, and professionally retrued and retensioned the wheel. And then, no more problems. They thought that, since her wheels were in almost pristine shape, but had sat around in a garage for a couple of years, that maybe they had never been properly tensioned, and somewhere on one of our two legs in Washington, the right bump or the right hole came along and loosened up the spokes. But they couldn't figure out how this would have caused a tear in the tire (too bad I didn't know the relationship of the loose spokes to the tire damage locations.
If this has worked properly, you should be able to see the damage to the tire. I was really surprised, and immediately looked my bike over, since I am running Michlin City Proteks on my Surly, although I have a 700 and she has a 26. Anyway, it was kind of strange.
Lesson Learned for Me: Always check the wheels and tires, every day. Never take it for granted we can get to the next stop. And a spare tire can be a life saver.