Bent rim on yesterday’s ride; Helter Skelter report; New tires ordered.
Yesterday I was finally able to break away long enough to go ride Helter Skelter, which is the new advanced difficulty level trail that we worked on this past Saturday at the Mt. Dora MTB park.
Before hitting Helter, I decided to do a warm-up ride down Gravity Destroyer and around the main loop. Along the main loop there is a short, but fun, unofficial offshoot called “Pipeline“. This section of trail includes a very fast decent down a long concrete flume. About halfway down the flume the concrete is badly broken and jagged. Over time the break has become much worse, and getting through it without flatting can be tricky. In fact, the first time Mike and I rode together Mike flatted his tubeless tire there, and just the other day it happened to him again.
I’d been lucky in avoiding a flat at that spot, but the concrete break has gotten so bad that I don’t ride Pipeline very often these days. Plus I already had the KOM. Well, the other day Mike beat my KOM by two seconds, so of course yesterday I had to make a stab at getting my KOM back… 🙂
The first time I rode the segment yesterday I did it at moderate speed to make sure the trail was clear. That went well. A bit later in my ride I rode the segment again, but this time I was going Mach 2 with my hair on fire. Just as I got through the broken concrete I heard air rushing out of my tire, and my rear tire went flat almost instantly. I walked my bike back up the flume to the main trail and did a damage assessment. There was a pretty bad ding in my wheel, and the tire was no longer able to bead there. Drat. I wasn’t real happy, obviously, but whatever. I had a spare tube, so I installed the tube and continued my ride.
Helter Skelter is pretty sandy and loose right now (we need rain, and more clay), but I still had a blast riding it. I love this trail! No wrecks, but I wasn’t able to clean it on two attempts. I simply was not able to maintain enough traction to make it up one particularly steep and sandy climb.
From a cardio standpoint, I’d say Helter Skelter is a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale. The trail was already a very tough workout, but the new sections of trail that Mark and Mike (and Mike’s son) flagged/cut just before the work day ratchet things up from “painful” to “evil”. They added successive technical climbs that must be made at the very end when you’re already exhausted. It’s like a kick in the teeth when you’re already down and semi-conscious.
Here’s the complete ride on Strava.
So when I got home I started working on my rear wheel. I was able to straighten the rim using a wrench and a metal tire lever (the technique I used is described in this Tech Tuesday article on Pink Bike). I worked slowly and methodically. After I was satisfied with my work, I put the tire on the wheel, removed the valve core and used my air compressor to air it up. I was very happy to see that the tire beaded perfectly all the way around, even at the spot I’d repaired. When I pushed on the tire at the repaired spot, no air at all burped out. Good.
Unfortunately the tire was losing air in a couple of other spots: there was a bad cut between the treads, and two snake bite cuts right where there tire meets the rim. I removed the valve core again, and injected 2 ounces of Stan’s sealant. The cut between the treads seemed to seal up pretty well, but even after about a half-hour of working with the snake bite cuts air continued to escape.
Well, my tires had about 800 miles on them, so they enjoyed a pretty long life. I think they would have been good for another 300 miles or so, but I can’t complain.
For my replacement tires I went with an ultra-light race tire, the Schwalbe Rocket Ron. I bought a pair of 2013 Rocket Ron tires: 26×2.25, Evolution line, PaceStar triple compound, 127 TPI and TL ready. Weight? Just 465g.
The 2013 version of the Rocket Ron has several improvements over last year’s model: 15% less rolling resistance, stronger tread blocks with a new V-Groove and a textured sidewall. The textured sidewall is supposed to offer a little more protection, make tubeless mounting easier, and reduce sealant bleeding through the sidewall.
I realize I’m taking a bit of a risk with these tires. Rocket Rons are very well regarded, but they may not hold up very well under daily use. Most of my riding is done on clay, dirt, roots and sand so perhaps I’ll be fine. If I start having issues with flats, I won’t buy them again.
The light weight of these tires combined with their low rolling resistance should have a noticeable impact on performance and speed. The tires arrive tomorrow, so I’ll have a ride report in the near future.