Saturday, February 02, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: This And That #2

This image from V1 became part of the V2 header for the T.I. site
Volunteer Update: 

First off, thanks to everyone that has contacted me to volunteer for Trans Iowa V9. I have filled the Checkpoint #2 needs and half of Checkpoint #1 needs.

I would feel a little better about things if I could get a few more folks to say they would help out at Checkpoint #1. The core group I have now is experienced and has done volunteering at Trans Iowa before, so you do not need to have any special knowledge, just a desire to help out the racers in getting their name and hand them up cue sheets. Update: Looks like I'm going to be good to go on Checkpoint #1 now. I still need a few intrepid souls for the start/roll out to give a hand. You should have access to a vehicle for this. Give me a shout if you can help out.

Dropping From Trans Iowa: 

Yes- I have gotten a few drops already, and it happens. I appreciate finding out if you can not come, because it helps me plan and saves me time and money by not doing the extra legwork for someone that won't be showing up. So, if you can not show up- for any reason- please let me know. I will be bummed that you will not be there, but it will help me out and prevent wasting time, money, and resources. 


Probably one of the biggest question marks for new-to-gravel grinding folks is what tires to use. In Trans Iowa, it will be a different answer than it will be for the Almanzo 100, and different than what you might choose for the Dirty Kanza 200 too. Here are some thoughts on tires for you to consider, based upon my observations, experience, and knowledge of the course.

  • Volume: You won't want to run tires under 32mm. If you do, you will waste energy, suffer "cutting in" to soft surfaces, and have a high risk for pinch flatting. The most popular size range for tires at Trans Iowa is anything from 35mm to 42mm wide. (Based upon a survey I once took and years of observations.) Even going this big, pinch flatting still occurs, so running even bigger rubber is okay, as long as you can get by the idea of the wheels being slightly heavier. 
  • Tread: You really do not need to run any tires with a deep tread pattern. File tread would work fine at Trans Iowa, but a minimalistic tread pattern tire may also have a thin casing, so be careful. Micro-knobs are probably a good bet, as is most anything I've seen on a touring tire. That should get you pointed in the right direction.
  • Tubeless: I happen to like tubeless tires on Iowa gravel. It works great, essentially eliminates the possibility of a pinch flat, and has better shock absorption qualities. Downsides are the initial set up and dealing with a cold, gooey mess if you do have to stick a tube in due to a flat tire issue.
  • Mud clearances: You definitely will need mud clearance at Trans Iowa. Well......there is a 95% chance you'll run into a situation where mud clearance is necessary. (I suppose there is a 5% chance it could be bone dry this Spring.) At any rate, if you show up with tires that max out your frame clearances, you may end up dealing with cleaning out a lot of muck and mire from the frame, or dealing with jammed brakes, torn up rear derailleurs, or other mud related maladies.
  • Tire Pressures: You won't want to run high pressure in your tires, whatever you run. All that will do is make your bike more skittish, which you will have to spend more energy on to control. I don't know about you, but in a 325+ mile gravel road event, I would think saving any bits of energy you could would be wise. So- run a pressure that keeps the bike stable and comfortable, yet prevents pinch flats. Trust me, you will go faster with less energy expended. For example- I go about 230lbs, and run Clement MSO 40mm tires a lot. I never go over 40psi, and have run these as low as 20psi- with tubes! I probably am just as fast at 30psi as I am at 40psi, but I run a heck of a lot more smoothly. Think about that.....
Image by W. Kilburg from T.I.V8
So, there are some of my observations on tires. Could you come to T.I., run 32's at 65psi and finish? Sure you could. But you probably would be just as fast with 38's at 45psi, and have the feeling in your hands and arms when you are done, and feel like you can ride a bike again a couple of days past Trans Iowa. You choose your damage level. You also could end up actually going faster with the skinnies when you were moving and end up slower over all because you spent more time fixing flats alongside the road too. Choose how often you want to fix your sled during the event.

That's all for this week. 


Ari said...

Maybe we should make a list of tires on the wider side. Kenda Happy medium
700x40, clement MSo 700x40,continental cyclocross speed 700x42 Any other ideas?

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari: I am trying out some Vee Rubber X-C-X tires, available in 1.75 and 1.90. I know they also do a rather Bontrager XR-1-ish tire called the V-12 in similar widths.

You've got your Schwalbe Mondials, Ritchey SpeedMax Cross, and Maxxis Overdrives.

There are probably more, but that's a start.

Ben said...

I was one to think skinnier is better, I'm young, lets rock this. But yeah I've come around and learned my lesson on TIv7.
I've used the 1.9 Vee's on my Fargo and love em. Planing on a Fargo with the MSO 40 Clements.

Steve Fuller said...

I ran my Schwalbe Mondials tubeless at DK last year and I was VERY happy with their performance. 0 flats, felt fast all day, especially at the end, which is important. I opted to run them on Stans rims rather than experiment with converting my Delgados over to ghetto tubeless.

Jon Steinhauser said...

Does sealant have an effect on tire life? Kenda always has a disclaimer about voiding the warranty if you use sealant in their non tubeless tires. I'm thinking of running the happy mediums tubeless.

Guitar Ted said...

@Jon Steinhauser: Yes- certain tire companies tires will degrade due to the ammonia in sealant. This is where Kenda tires typically fail, due to delamination of the casing from ammonia exposure.

Using Caffe Latex or a glycol based sealant like Slime might be more successful, but typically Kendas non-tubeless stuff is so porous it is really hard to get the sidewalls to hold air effectively. Can't say I would recommend doing tubeless on Happy Mediums, but I am sure someone has done it with some amount of success.

Unknown said...

Can you recommend a tire for gravel riding. I have a 52cm Vaya so I require a 26" tire. I'd like to run tubeless. I'd like to run something between 1.5"-1.75" but could run wider. Thanks.

Guitar Ted said...

@Galen Murray: There are a few Panaracer tires, the T-Serv, Ribmo, and Pasela tires in that range. Also, there are Schwalbe marathons in that size, along with some other commuter based tires. Pick your level of protection, and go from there. None of those tires, (and none I am aware of in that size), are tubeless, so you are going to have to convert these if you want to go tubeless.

RC said...
I have personally used the 26x1.5 and can vouch for the ease with which they roll. Really nice tire.

Guitar Ted said...

@RC: Those are pretty much Panaracer tires, right? Just made for Compass, if I am correct.