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Old 07-01-14, 05:06 PM   #1
hairnet
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Tire selection for 400k with dirt

Hi everybody,

I just signed up for my third randonee, the King Ridge 400. Unlike the previous fleches I rode there will be a 90 mile stretch of unpaved road with lots of climbing. Right now I own a pair of 32mm Schwalbe Marathons that are tough enough for all that dirt road and I am confident on the dirt with road tires. However, they aren't the softest or lightest tires (on an already heavy bike) so I don't know how good they will be for the comfort on the dirt and energy saving over the whole course. I'm going to hit the trails asap but I would like to tap into the collective experience of this forum. What have you used for similar rides? Am I over thinking this and just go out with what I have?
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Old 07-01-14, 07:36 PM   #2
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I think that on a randonnée like this one that includes a 90-mile off-road stretch, I personally would not run road tires. This route is designed in such way that the 145 Km off-road section can either make you or break you. The chances of breaking you are much higher. I suggest going with an off-road "event" tire such as the Schwalbe Racing Ralph. It will give you a lot of confidence in the technical and loose off-road sections.
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Old 07-01-14, 07:47 PM   #3
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I would just go with the Marathons. I ride with a person that uses Marathons, and he does fine. You could go with one of the Compass tires, but do you really want to experiment at this point?
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Old 07-01-14, 09:47 PM   #4
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running road tires off-road isn't ideal, nor is riding an excessively-knobby tire on pavement for an extended period of time. the marathons in a 32 look like pretty decent tread...is it going to be straight up hard-packed dirt? or will be there be crushed stone, gravel, what?

90 miles of a 400k is less than a third of the course distance, so also keep that in mind when you decide which way to compromise. can you make up the lost time of using a road tire off-road by being able to roll faster on the pavement sections, which make up the majority of the course? or will the off-road section be so gnarly that traction there trumps all other concerns?

a cheap and easy middle-of-the-road solution would be to perhaps get a file-tread cyclocross tire. ritchey speedmax, kenda happy medium, etc.

another (even cheaper = free) solution would be to run road pressure on your marathons during the road segments. once you get to the off-road stretch, let out some air in each tire to get you a bit more surefooted. pump them back up and you negate the losses of low pressure rolling resistance.
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Old 07-01-14, 10:03 PM   #5
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Agreed, adjusting pressure between dirt and road is the way to go. I have experience with road tires on fire roads and dropping pressure usually works well enough. I tried riding around with some time tread CX tires and found it still sucks a lot of energy.

Panaracer Paselas are the on road tires I have used on fire roads. I'm not going to use them this time because I think they are too fragile and I don't want to risk getting a sidewall tear on this ride.

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Old 07-02-14, 07:21 AM   #6
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Ideally, there would be controls just before and soon after this section of gravel.
Then you could meet someone with a set of wheels that you could swap out...road tires for the road and gravel crunchers for the gravel.
This is permitted at controls.

just a thought...
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Old 07-02-14, 09:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
Hi everybody,

I just signed up for my third randonee, the King Ridge 400. Unlike the previous fleches I rode there will be a 90 mile stretch of unpaved road with lots of climbing. Right now I own a pair of 32mm Schwalbe Marathons that are tough enough for all that dirt road and I am confident on the dirt with road tires. However, they aren't the softest or lightest tires (on an already heavy bike) so I don't know how good they will be for the comfort on the dirt and energy saving over the whole course. I'm going to hit the trails asap but I would like to tap into the collective experience of this forum. What have you used for similar rides? Am I over thinking this and just go out with what I have?
That looks like a hugely-challenging route. It's a little unclear from the ride description which roads are gravel/dirt and which are not. E.g. is the 18 percent grade on Meyers Grade Road on gravel/dirt? Or paved road? If it is gravel/dirt, I would think that you will be very hard pressed to ride up it on tires that do not have some tread.

I would contact the ride organizer and ask them what tires to take. They'll have a much better idea than any of us will.

It could be more efficient to ride your road tires for most of the ride, carrying a cross-tire, and then stop and swap the rear tire from the road to the cross-tire before that 90-mile section. Swap back at the end of the 90-mile section.
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Old 07-03-14, 02:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
I just signed up for my third randonee, the King Ridge 400. Unlike the previous fleches I rode there will be a 90 mile stretch of unpaved road with lots of climbing.
I think you misunderstood the description. The 90-mile challenging section includes all the dirt roads on the course. Total amount of off-road riding is about 15 miles. It is a challenging course with about 25,000 ft of climbing and poorly maintained roads, so I would suggest 28 to 32mm tires. I rode it with 32mm tires.

EDIT: The cue-sheet highlights off-road sections with a shaded background. Slicks are sufficient and recommended.
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Old 07-03-14, 03:25 PM   #9
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Do'h. and I was going to study the cue sheet later. I was looking forward to the dirt.
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Old 07-04-14, 05:43 PM   #10
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I would be looking at a higher volume tire like the Panaracer Pasela in the biggest size your frame clears. Even at the bigger sizes they roll really well and are more than capable of handling lots of dirt.

This guy did 360 miles of gravel and dirt very fast on some Panaracer Pasela's. What Makes a Winning Gravel Grinder Bike? Oregon Outback Winner Ira Ryan's Breadwinner - Cyclocross Magazine - Cyclocross News, Races, Bikes, Photos, Videos | Cyclocross Magazine ? Cyclocross News, Races, Bikes, Photos, Videos
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Old 07-06-14, 02:12 PM   #11
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I'm riding more and more on gravel, and I did the 100K version of D2R2 last August, on 42 mm Schwalbe Hetres. I've also done gravel rides on 35 mm Paselas on my 700C bike. At D2R2 I saw everything from 25 mm road tires to MTBs with knobbies.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:25 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the tips. I rode a dirt/road century yesterday with the Marathons and found them to be too heavy for these rides (previously only commuted on them) I still have a pair of beat up 35mm Paselas so I will be on those now.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:35 AM   #13
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How much clearance does your frame/fork have?
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Old 07-13-14, 06:39 PM   #14
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How much clearance does your frame/fork have?
The frame is advertised to take 42mm with fenders.
I have been experiencing some serious knee pains lately, probably IT band, so I'm not going to do the ride. This really sucks but I don't want to hurt myself.
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Old 07-13-14, 09:15 PM   #15
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The frame is advertised to take 42mm with fenders.
I have been experiencing some serious knee pains lately, probably IT band, so I'm not going to do the ride. This really sucks but I don't want to hurt myself.
Knee pain is no fun, I just cut a ride in half today because of it myself. Heal quick!
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Old 07-14-14, 09:18 AM   #16
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The frame is advertised to take 42mm with fenders.
I have been experiencing some serious knee pains lately, probably IT band, so I'm not going to do the ride. This really sucks but I don't want to hurt myself.
Good call -- IT band pain can take a long time to recover from. Generally, the cause is that your saddle is too high, making you have to stretch for the pedals and creating stress on the IT. Try dropping your saddle a cm and go for a low-effort ride. If you get pain in the front of your knee then you've probably dropped your saddle too far.

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