21 May 2007 - 11:36A Pleasant Surprise
When I was putting my bike on the roof of my car in the pouring rain, I was thinking to myself at just how much fun this race was going to be. I mean, it was POURING! It had rained all night, and it didn’t look like it was going to stop.
I picked up Nat, and we headed north and west to Catamount, where the race was being held. We were commenting on just how cold, muddy and miserable we were going to be. Well, wouldn’t you know it, when we came out of the mountains, everything was dry! It hadn’t rained at all. What a fantastic surprise. Needless to say, the weather greatly improved our outlook. On arrival, I found I had managed to forget my gloves, and glasses. Good thing I didn’t need them.
There was no standing water on the course, the wooded sections were tacky, and the grass sections of which there were many were fantastically grippy.
So how do you do a tire comparison in near perfect conditions? Well, it isn’t easy.
My race rig was my Niner SIR9 (Kermit), set up as a rigid singlespeed. My wheels are Bike29 Royale Singlespeed, using Stan’s Arch rims. I am running them tubeless, and had 35 psi in both tires. The ground is still pretty soft, even the slightest incline would sap all your strength, but it was not the tires. For being such a blocky tread pattern with a soft rubber compound, they roll fast on anything hard. They stuck to the dry grass like velcro. I was really able to lay it down in the turns. About the only time they made we nervous was when going over wet roots. I don’t know any 29er tire out there that is good at that. Racing rigid was interesting too. I felt a little skittery in the rough stuff. I may rescind my weight weenie ways and put a fork on Kermit this summer, but I am going to give it a few races.
IRD Fire XC
Nat had his tires around 25 psi. I think this is way too low, but he likes the way they hook up at that low a pressure. We traded the lead over each other a few times over the race. Nat’s EMD is set up with WTB Speed Disc Trail rims using tubes.
Jay had his tubeless Bike29 AYKM wheels on his AIR9, and had his tire pressure around 20. He really liked the tires. He commented on outstanding grip in the race conditions we had, and the ease at which the wheels could get up to speed. Not suprising for such a light weight wheel/tire combo.
For the time being, these tires will be camped out on the bikes. I’ll be able to nit pick the tires a little better when there is more opportunity for on trail drama. There were folks running Nanoraptors, and even they had no problems.
The race results were not posted at the time of this post, but as usual, Jay won in his category. Nice job! There were also a suprising number of 29ers out there. The summer race season begins on May 30th.