|What you want for tires in Trans Iowa can vary.Typical dry Spring conditions like this call out for one thing.|
Okay, with that, here is the final question: "If it is wet are you better to run a smaller tire for more mud clearance?"
Answer: That's a more complicated question than you might imagine. First off, having some mud clearance is best. Coming in to any gravel event in the Mid-West with your tire clearances maxed out by some fatty tire choice is only asking for trouble. One sticky, gooey, muddy section will make you regret that choice! Even if 99% of the rest of the course is dry!
Secondly- If you see muddy roads, especially minimum maintenance roads, it may be best to pick up your bicycle and walk! Mud tends to cling to everything in the Mid-West and it is tenacious! Even just rolling your bicycle on muddy dirt is a really bad idea because it doesn't matter if you have weight on the bike or not. This mud doesn't care!
|About as mushy as gravel roads can get. This scene is from T.I.v6|
This will allow your frame to pass any wet, sticky bits that might get pulled up by your tires. This is especially important on carbon fiber frames because hours of grinding muddy, fine limestone paste will abrade a hole in your frame where it passes by the rear tire. That's right- and this has even been reported on a titanium frame as well, but it is much more common on carbon fiber frames. So, if you have to go with a skinnier tire to get mud clearances, then maybe you should do that.
Let's say that tire clearance isn't an issue for your bicycle. Then it may become a question of how wide do you go. Tire choices have been debated since even before the first Trans Iowa began, so I've been around for all of it. I've seen Trans Iowa finished on 28mm tires and fat bike tires, but either extreme will make you pay a big price. The reasonable choice is to run something in the 35mm-42mm range. This will be what the bulk of the Trans Iowa field will be running for tires, and has been since about T.I.v3 onward. (Many mountain bikes were used for the first two versions of the event.)
|My personal favorite and a tire bourne out of Trans Iowa riding- The WTB Resolute|
I might also recommend the Panaracer Gravel King SK, but that tire also is pretty puffy for its size. It may not fit your frame in the 40mm, tubeless ready version. (This tire goes more like 42mm in size, by the way.) There are skinnier versions of the Gravel King, but not all are tubeless rated. Tubeless is a highly recommended thing for Trans Iowa, by the way. Terrene makes a nice 40mm-ish tire in the Elwood as well which I really liked in 650B X 47mm size.
A skinnier, tubeless ready tire choice is available in the Donnelly MSO in the 36mm size and WTB has a 37mm Riddler which is pretty good as well.
Those are my top tire choices for Iowa gravel and some tips on how to choose a tire for your bike to ride in T.I.v14. Of course, many other choices exist, so feel free to use whatever you are confident in.
Tomorrow: A Bonus bit of advice and a review!