I’ve ridden a lot of different tires over the years, from skinny little race-weight weeny rollers to thick chunky soul destroying to move 2.3 knobby monsters. I’ve ridden winter studded tires, wet tires, rain tires, dry tires, fast roll tires, fast-cornering tires and finally I found my perfect tire.
I say perfect in the loosely-associated with perfection sense of the word. Specifically and actually perfect for just one thing – long distance gravel grinding, which just happens to be my favorite new way to burn hours in the saddle.
Gone are the short 3-4 hour races through super technical terrain, gone are the group rides with friends over dry river creeks and up and down mountain sides. Now I’m in the land of long-rolling hills and endless gravel roads and trails, and the fat tire ain’t cutting it anymore. In fact it’s like rolling around with a fat arse and a loose pair of trainers. Not tight, not slick, not even gripping the damn trail.
After my ridiculous ride on the Petit Train using 2.3 tires I started searching in vain for something akin to a cross tire. I know there’s a ton of rubber out there for supporting mud-splattered, off road racing but none of it seemed to be designed for the 29er platform.
Enter the Great Divide. A race I watch and read about every year and plot and scheme to participate in with all the frustration of a broken leg poolside in summer. The race is not technical in any meaningful sense of the word, even though it covers vast stretches of trails along the spine of the Rockies. Rather, it’s a gravel grinder which if any of you can imagine sucks your energy faster the wider the tire is.
In 2015 I had first-hand experience of this feeling in Portgual during the off-road race Trans-Portugal. There were two days, well three really where we flew in a pack hitting 40km/hr on a regular basis. You don’t need thick slightly filled tires for this, you need thin hard super-fast rolling tires.
And I just found them. Enter the Terravail Cannonball 700C Tire.
You can see from the pictures just how big a difference there is between a standard 2.1tire and this one.
I can’t concentrate on writing any more – I am giddy like a school child at Christmas after fitting one to my front tire and riding last week – they are explosive in pick-up and rolling speed. The second one is going on tomorrow and then Saturday the first race using them in Vermont. Both are setup tubeless and both require a slightly narrower tube if you choose to go that way.
Stay tuned – more to come on this subject next week!