It was hot last night. On my way home from work the radio said it was 104 degrees, and the temperature gauge in my truck said 110. Either way, it felt like the first real summer day had arrived.
I started dreading all of those summer morning rides where you roll out with the sun, and it is already 95.
It's no fun, but you gotta do it. That night, I went to bed, set my alarm and fell asleep with hazy visions of heat rising off of tarmac.
The alarm rang, and not wanting to wake my wife, I grabbed a set of bibs out of the drawer with the lights still off. They turned out to be a twelve plus year old pair that I haven't worn in at least six years. (check in with lesson three below...)
A quick coffee and a banana later, and I am out the door at 5:55am. Guess what?
It was glorious outside!
Yes... Summer is officially here, but the mornings are still fantastic. My Garmin said it was 64 degrees at the start of the ride. Lesson #1? Set that alarm and make the most out of it! It won't be long before it is 95 at 6am, so don't waste a single morning!
<<Editor's Note... In case you haven't heard, there is a pretty amazing group ride heading out from the shop this Saturday at 6am! More details here.>>
If you aren't already running tubeless road tires, then get your giddy-up on and make it happen.
I've been riding tubeless tires on my cyclocross and mountain bikes for a long, long time, but it has only been in the last year that I started riding tubeless tires on the road as well. During that year, they have been nothing short of wonderful. The lower pressure and larger contact patch smooth out rough roads, and make cornering a dream.
Want to take that gravelly short cut through Papago? Don't worry about it! A good tubeless set-up will handle it with ease!
Going tubeless will definitely open up the terrain you are willing to ride on, but that extra smooth ride and fantastic grip, are only part of the story. They are also an amazing way to prevent flats. Case in point...
A car horn honked behind me today. (I have no idea why. I was in the bike lane, and the streets were deserted.) I looked over my shoulder to see what was up, and when I turned back, there was this huge patch of broken glass right in front of me. I had two choices... I could swerve out into the lane (right in front of the honking car), or I could roll through it.
I rolled through it.
Both tires punctured. I felt a little bit of sealant spray onto my legs, and kept right on rolling. Assuming it is safe to do so, that is what you are supposed to do when you puncture a tubeless tire. Keep rolling, and let the centrifugal force push the sealant inside the tire into the hole. A few pedal strokes later, the hissing stopped, and I pulled over. I wiped the glass off the tire, gave them a squeeze to make sure they still had enough air in them, and continued on.
If I had been on regular tires, this would probably have been the end of my ride. A double flat with only one spare tube would have required a cell phone call for a ride back home. Needless to say, I enjoyed the extra hour of riding a lot more.
There are lots and lots of road tubeless options out there. My current favorites are the Bontrager Aeolus 3 wheels paired with Schwalbe Pro One tires.
While pricey, this set-up is lighter than most other regular high end wheels, even with the disks. They spin up with little to no effort, grip like King Kong, and hold speed as well as wheels twice their depth.
Regardless of which equipment you choose, take my advice and follow these rules:
- Use only tubeless specific wheels and tires. There are companies out there that claim to be able to mount tubeless tires to regular rims, but I do not recommend it. It is very, very important that the bead of the tire and the rim be seated securely, or you risk rolling the tire during hard cornering.
- Replace the sealant every six months or so, and add additional sealant after significant punctures.
- If you don't own an air compressor (and who does...) invest in a Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Pump (pictured left). This cool tool makes it a breeze to not only properly seat the tubeless tires when you first mount them, but it is also great at clearing dried sealant out of the valves.
- Speaking of dried sealant in the valves, I've found that they get gummed up less if you store the bike with the valves on the bottom half of the wheel so that the sealant drains out of them and into the tire.
- Even though you are MUCH less likely to get a flat, you still need to carry a spare tube, tire levers, and pump (or CO2 cartridge) with you. Better safe than sorry.
Many of the new wheels are tubeless ready, so there is a good chance that if your bike is less than two years old, that you may already own wheels that can safely be run tubeless! If that is the case, all you will need to get up and running are some tubeless tires ($50-120 each), some tubeless rim strips, tubeless valves, and a few ounces of sealant. If you need to get tubeless wheels, you can plan on investing anywhere from $600 to $3000 depending on how light and aero you want to be.
If you want to learn more about going tubeless, and the improved ride quality and flat protection that they offer, stop by the shop and ask for Adam or Barry. We'll walk you through all of the ins and outs, and help you find the best match for your budget.
Those twelve year old bibs I wore this morning? Yeah. That was a bad idea. Replace your kit frequently, and give your old stuff to someone you dislike.