A Racer at Heart
Q: Just got back on a bike since I raced BMX back in the ’90s. Earlier this year, I was invited to be part of a three-man team in a six-hour race. It hooked me. What type of racing should I do? I currently ride a Cannondale Trail SL 2 29er.
Nick, who is race-ready
A: First of all, we’re pumped you found your way to mountain biking. It sounds like the type of race you were doing would most closely be related to a standard cross-country race or an endurance race. Most cross-country races last about an hour and a half to two hours and require an intense effort. Endurance cross-country races are typically 6, 12 or 24 hours long. You can usually compete as part of a multi-rider team or solo if you’re a glutton for pain.
The most logical step would be to try your hand at some cross-country races. The format will be similar to what you experienced during your team race, but being a shorter race overall, it might be easier to work into your schedule. If you find that you don’t have as much fun riding solo races, go back to what you started with. Team endurance races usually make for awesome weekends. They’ve got bikes, buddies, BBQs and usually a relaxed atmosphere?pretty much a foolproof recipe for a good time.
As far as your bike goes, the Trail SL 2 29er is a perfect bike for cross-country riding. If you find yourself looking for the next step up, check out either the F29 Carbon or the Scalpel 29 Carbon?if you can afford one. The full-suspension Scalpel is a great race bike, but as with all top-tier race bikes, the cost of admission is pretty high.
Tubeless and Airless Tires
Q: I have tubeless-ready wheels and am having trouble keeping air in them. One wheel leaks air rapidly from around numerous spokes, and the other leaks more from around the valve stem itself.
Steve, who wants to keep the air in his tires
A: It sounds like you have a few different issues going on with the sealing of your rim bed. First, we’d be sure to re-tape the rim bed with some fresh tubeless tape, such as the tape from Stan’s NoTubes. Be absolutely certain that you are covering the exposed spoke holes in the rim bed. Work your way around slowly, and be sure that the tape is lying flat and there are no gaps or bubbles where a gap could potentially open up. The slightest gap will result in leaking.
With the tape properly installed, make a small hole in the tape where the valve stem goes. “Small” is the key word here. Make the cut too big and it can cause air to escape around the valve. With the hole big enough to guide the valve through, let the valve do the rest of the work opening it up. When it’s through, be sure to tighten the locking nut on the outside of the rim to keep the seal solid. With those two areas covered, there shouldn’t be anywhere for air to escape.
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