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Lute from Montana on 9/26/2023 11:05:02 AM:
We cycled the Cowboy Trail from Valentine to Norfolk September 11-13.
We found the trail to be excellent, well maintained. In fact, we met two men who do trail maintenance for the State and they both take pride in the condition of the trail.
Although the goathead issue is much improved, goatheads are a significant issue. We found that in crossing intersections, we almost always picked up goatheads. However, we never had a flat tire because after crossing intersections, we would stop and pull out goatheads. And we had good, wide, protective touring tires.

Dougt from Castana, Ia on 9/26/2023 12:11:52 PM:
Two of us will be doing Norfolk to Valentine and back Oct 1-6. It's good to hear that the trail is in good condition, although not so good to hear that you stopped after crossing every intersection b/c there are a ton of intersections to cross. We run heavy tires, tire liners with heavy tubes, and sealant in the tubes and usually have pretty good luck. I've read a couple of accounts of people skipping the Johnston-Ainsworth section this year to avoid goatheads. You didn't do that did you? We've never done that over 5 or 6 years, but it always seems like they crop up west of Ainsworth. One year we had like 8 flats on the trip. Last year only one but I brought back a ton of thorns embedded in one tire that I never was able to remove. Always an adventure! Thanks for the update!

John from Boulder, CO on 9/27/2023 5:52:29 PM:
Rode Valentine to Neligh and back last week. Photoed one goathead stuck in my tire tread within first 10 miles. Pulled it out and completed the journey w/o a leak. As a regular commuting and recreation rider I decided long ago I didn't like having flats. (and have goatheads in home area also) For decades have standardized on good tires + thorn-resistant tubes + tread liners. My wheels are little doubt heavier and don't roll as nicely as the next guy's but I have not had a flat from an external puncture since 1996. (knock on wood - could happen anytime!) I got home from the ride and inspected tires. Found and pulled out four more goathead thorn tips. No flats yet. Given their proven presence here - you'd be wise to take the extra measures of your choice - and/or spend some time patching. Good luck!