It was snowing out when I got up this morning. With three straight days of precip, the Fat Tire Classic is sure to be nice and juicy by Sunday, even though the area is sandy. I generally suck in these conditions (more than I normally suck), and it wreaks havoc on expensive bike components. I haven't pre-reg'd yet. Have until noon. I may wait until day-of. Bailing out is not really an option either, as I mentioned this event too many times in passing here.
There is an alternative option. I could race my singlespeed in the singlespeed category. I have yet to race my singlespeed in a real MTB race. I did a hillclimb last year with it, heavily modified. The drivetrain is half spent already, plus 8spd chains are far more robust in goop than 9spd chains. The cost in wear and tear on the drivetrain would be near nil. I probably wouldn't fuss with it at all, leaving the current gear (32x18) and tires (26" Fire XC's) on it. I'd likely be spinning out half the time, and the burly knobbies would pick up a lot of mud but grip well on slippery roots. CB2 has no need to worry, although it would be nice if he shared some intel on gearing. I'm chalking the race up to "training value."
Speaking of tires. My Bonty experiment on Thursday actually went well. Earlier this week, I mounted 29-3's on my Superfly, with explosive effect. At lunch, I did a lively Mine Falls + Huron Cove ride with Steve G on his Yeti dualie. I dropped the pressure down, without a gauge. The fast trails in Huron Cove are generally smooth, hard packed, and covered with pine needles. The 29-3's hooked up extremely well when leaning over at speed. The tires felt quite supple over rooty areas too. They did feel sluggish on pavement, probably due to low pressure.
In Mine Falls, I cleaned the rocky chute and steep bank climb by the dam effortlessly. I was overall impressed with the handling. They did not burp, but I never hit anything hard enough to bottom out the tires either. The tires do have some wobble in them. It could be one of two things. The tires went on the rim very easily, and thus how evenly the beads are seated around the rim is questionable. I suspect though a second reason is the culprit. It appears the tread cap is not perfectly formed on the tire casing. I've seen this a lot in Specialized tires years ago. I did not notice it riding, but I bet if I went down a paved hill at 40mph, I'd feel it.
When I got home, I measured the tire pressure with a dial gauge. 22psi front, 25psi rear. This is lower than I'd want to race at and explains sluggish performance on pavement. What I like about the WTB Mutanoraptors is they seem to roll fast on pavement at any pressure.
There are two truths in tires. The first is they always weigh more than advertised. In the 29-3 case, as much as 23% more. The other truth is they are never as wide as advertised. After a break-in ride, my tires are still about 0.1" less width than advertised. This ain't bad for a 2+ inch tire. I've had tires come in much narrower than this. The tires will stay on for now. If I do decide to bring the Superfly Sunday, this is what I'll be racing. Have to see how Sunday's weather shapes up.