Oh, before I talk about the race itself, I want to share my newest and most awesome farkle.
Before Devil's Ridge, I knew it was going to be a mudder, and so to help prepare, I turned my Michelin S12XC tire around, so the sharp edges would bite, while the rounded off ones would trail. In putting the wheel back together, I did something I never do - I ripped the valve stem in my $20 Ultra Heavy Duty tube. I went to inflate, and it just went pfffssssssst. Crap. This was Friday evening, so no need to panic or anything.
So I said, oh well, that sucks, I'll just grab the spare tube out of my pack. The spare was not UHD, but it would work, I'd just have to be more careful with the running pressure and don't go too low to pinch flat. So I pull the tire back off, remove the damaged UHD tube, and reassemble with the spare regular tube. I get it all back together, re-inflate, and hear pfffsssssst. WTF?
I pull it back apart and somehow pinched it on the rim lock. I have never messed up a tube during a tire change, and now twice in a row.
I managed to fish an older UHD tube out of a spare wheel that I had an old worn out knobby on, and the 3rd time was a charm.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking, this is the last straw, while I tore down the wheel, tore down the spare wheel with old rubber, and reinstalled the tire and tube for the 3rd time that night.
So I had been drooling over something called Tire Balls for a couple of years now, but the price has always kept me away. A got a little bonus at work and with the help of my experience of ruining two tubes in a row I decided to do it. They wouldn't be here for Devil's Ridge, of course, but I placed the order and they came the week after.
Tire Balls, front and rear:
The idea is that if one goes flat, the rest move around a little to take its place. You inflate when you install them, so installing the tire can be a little bit more difficult than a tube, but not that bad. They will lose air gradually over time, so every six months or so, pull the tire off and reset the pressure. You can run a very low pressure = very good traction, but no pinch flat. Also, no puncture or other flats either.
A special bead tool helps get that last little bit over:
With "Mountain Challenge" coming up the next weekend, I wanted to get at least one shake-down ride on them. I ended up getting two in, including a 1.5 hour practice session in. So far so good, they just work, no drama, no surprises, the tire felt great - responsive, good traction, all systems go.