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Racing, Rain and Tires

July 19th, 2010 [print] Go to comments

BAH!

That’s what I have to say about Missouri’s increasingly wetter July’s.  We had a nice, dry run through the latter parts of June and early July, but now the storms are here again.  Normally, I’d just be annoyed, but this time I’m getting pissed.

The Show-Me State Games MTB race is less than a week away, and the forecast is grim for race day, with a good chance of showers.  However, if it’s dry enough to race, I doubt it’ll be called off.  What this means for me is, my proven fastest tire choice has to be tossed out, and I have to prepare for sloppy conditions.

I discovered last Fall that my fastest tire set-up happened to be a skinny 1.8" Kenda Klimax Lite in the rear, with a 2.1" Nevegal up front.  The rear spins up quickly for sprints, while the front adds extra suspension (at 25psi) and better braking.  So long as I keep my ass planted in the saddle, the rear’s excellent L3R compound gives it plenty of grip, despite a lack of tread.  However, that only helps if it’s dry… which it most likely won’t be.

My options are this:  keep the current tire set-up, have less weight in the back, but less grip and braking in the mud.  Or, put on a heavier tire, lose some speed in the flat areas due to weight, but have ridiculous climbing grip.  Light weight is worthless if I’m just spinning my tire, so I’ve gone the heavier route.

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Enter, my new set-up:  the 2.1" Nevegal in the rear, with an old and proven 2.35" Kinetics Stick-E up front.  In the past, I’ve run a pair of Kinetics Stick-Es, and nothing has ever come close to the grip they offer in slick stuff, which Rock Bridge park is full of.  The braking grip of the front tire–even with my antiquated rim brakes–will just about pop your eye sockets out.  I’ve never run the Nevegal in the rear, but it seems to have performance matching the Kinetics, only at a lighter weight.  Since I have no time to order something else, this is going to have to do.

In the mean time, I’m going to pine for the old days of dry, horribly hot Missouri summers, where we’d go for weeks without rain at times.  It makes the trails more predictable, and for my first race, I could really use that.

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