Saturday, 30 July 2016

Stans No Tubes Race Sealant Review

No Tubes have been long time leaders in the tubeless sealant market. This year they released a new race sealant which they claim will patch larger holes, and will block them quicker so less pressure is lost. It supposedly achieves this by using a combination of more and larger particles in the solution.

In my experience the standard solution worked great for thorns, but frequently couldn't cope with cuts in the tyre. In preparation for the races ahead and with two news tyres, it was time to find out if the new latex stood up to the claims. After 20 miles on a fast flinty descent there was the tell tail "Phfft, phfft phfft" and wet latex on my legs. It didn't seal immediately so the group stopped. There was a small 5mm cut in the centre of the thread. The others waited while I held the hole at the bottom of the tyre so the latex flowed over the cut. The air flow slowed, but when I tentatively spun the wheel  a few minutes later it restarted. I repeated this process several times, but in the end I gave up and fitted a tube.

20 miles later the same thing happened with the front wheel. This time I could see a thorn still in the tyre. The best plan is usually to leave the thorn in, and the leak was slow so we continued. 10 minutes later the latex continued to spit out with every revolution of the wheel and the pressure was getting lower. So I pulled out the thorn. At this point all remaining sealant poured out onto the road. Time for a second tube.

In summary it couldn't have been a much worse debut. Especially when the new latex comes at such a premium price. To be clear I had followed the instructions to the letter and thoroughly shaken the bottle and poured the solution directly into the tyres. I'd added two cups, the same as I normally would in a 29er tyre, and was running around 20-25psi pressure in both tyres.

UPDATE: A few days later and with both wheels topped up, it was time for my second ride with the race sealant. 3hrs in and only 5 miles from home I felt the latex hit the back of my legs. It was the tiniest little cut, right in the middle of the tread. So small I could hardly see it. Being close to home, this time I was determined for it to seal. I stopped to give it time to dry, I spun the wheel I tried everything, but each time I rode off the latex sprayed out again.

I limped home with a top up for air and a white stripe of sealant up my back! I continue to be very unimpressed with the new Stans sealant.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 Snakeskin Actual Weight

My intended front tyre for the Grand Raid. Easily the heaviest tyre I'll ever have put on a bike, but hopefully the thicker 'Snakeskin' side walls will protect against flats. In my experience the Rocket Ron rolls well and is predictable in loose or muddy conditions.

Specialized Fast Trak Control 2.0 Actual Weight

I've had a Fast Trak Control on the rear wheel of my bike for over 2 years. Summer and winter it handles all conditions, rolling well and digging in for traction when required. The Control version has thicker side walls which increase protection against punctures compared to the lighter S-Works.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Grand Raid Training Ride

This weeks training ride to Winchester.
92 miles   2458m vertical ascent   7hrs 30min

Monday, 18 July 2016

Spinning up the climbs!

#Absoluteblack 30t oval chainring fitted; it was time for a 6hr training ride. I've been using ovals for several years so there was no adjustment necessary. There are two less teeth than previously on the ring, which should help in the Alps. 
Absolute Black Oval Chainring
Talking of the Alps there is only a month to go before the Grand Raid. So I went in search of the local "mountains". It might be the highest point in Hampshire, but at 271m Butser Hill is only a pimple compared to the 2787m of the Pas De Lona, the final climb of the Grand Raid.
My ride stats were 6hrs, 66miles and 2000m of climbs. In some ways completing this ride has helped build my confidence ahead of my Swiss trip. On the other hand the thought of 4 more hours, 10 extra miles and more than 3000m more ascent is somewhat daunting!
Two times over Butser and still smiling!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

New jersey!

Time for a new jersey design. Hoping it will arrive just in time for the Grand Raid.

Friday, 8 July 2016

How do you prepare for 5000m of climbing?

I've ridden 188 miles in the last six days, one of my best weekly mileage totals of the year. Targeting the hills I have amassed 3600m of climbing - but this is still only 72% of what I'll need to cover in a single day on the 20th August. In fact checking my Strava history, my best ever weekly altitude gain total is 4344m. My monthly totals fairly regularly fall below the 5000m total of Grand Raid! If it wasn't a challenge what would be the point?

Grand Raid route profile.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Choosing Tyres for Grand Raid

Tyre selection for the 125km race across the Swiss alps has been playing on my mind ever since I filled in the entry form. 

Initial thoughts turn to choosing something robust to survive a day in the mountains and minimise the time spent at the side of the trail. But the extra material required to strengthen a tyre means increasing rotational mass. Every gram will have to be dragged over 5000m of mountain climbs, so a lower weight is a significant benefit.

Then there is the Alpine weather to consider.  Obviously I am expecting blue sky's, stunning views and dusty trails! Realistically there is every chance of rain any time of the year in the mountains - maybe even snow! A tyre with low rolling resistance will help reduce the effort over a long day in the saddle, but isn't going to find traction in mud or gloop.

So in summary I'm looking for the perfect tyre in all conditons! Tough, lightweight, smooth rolling and grip in muddy conditions. If any manufacturer could nail that combination they would have the market sewn up! So instead my choice required comprimise. 

Options were Schwalbe Rocket Rons and Racing Ralphs. Both come with snakeskin sidewalls to reduce the chances of cuts and punctures. The Rocket Rons have a bit more tread compared to the Ralphs lower profile knobs.The Continental Race King offers low rolling resistance and robust options, but is a bit heavier than the competition. Finally there is the Specialized Fast Trak, a semi low profile tyre with a thicker Control casing.

I've spent weeks agonising and comparing specs and weights. I've even got as far as placing tyres in my online shopping basket, but didn't commit. So what was my final decision? After all the toing a froing I've ended up with what I already had on the bike! Reason: Better the devil you know when stepping into the unknown.

I've been running the Rocket Ron 2.25 upfront for several years. Its a nice predicatble tyre which deals with muddier conditions, but still rolls well enough in the dry. I will opt for the Snakeskin sidewalls for extra protection. 

At the back it's the tried and tested 2.0 Fast Trak Control. It rolls well with minimal resistance and I've raced it through the UK winter so it should survive an Alpine summer.