Cold Feet

Feet can get cold in winter if insulation doesn’t work or if your feet get wet. If you don’t solve these problems, you could eventually get trench foot, (you can find images online). Trench foot isn’t fatal, and wasn’t invented by soldiers in wet trenches, but got a lot of attention when they could no longer walk. Although not fatal, and not as potentially harmful as other cold weather injuries, it’s a bad place to find yourself. Ever had sweaty feet, and not been in a situation where you could take your shoes off and let them dry out? In addition to the odors that can grow, as the skin continues soaking in this enclosed swamp, it will start loosening and detaching from the foot. And just like a freshly popped blister, you now have very tender and painfully sore fresh layers exposed. Ok, sorry about that disgusting situation, but avoid it!

Warm and dry feet are sometimes key to survival, or at least comfort, while outside in cooler temperatures. For me, the fun is over when my feet are going numb. First requirement: keep my feet warm! Although hands get cold too, we can always stop the activity and sink them into warmer clothing on our body or do the windmill to get some warm blood back into the fingers. It’s not as easy to strip your feet and put them in your armpits, not sure I could do that on a good day, with minimal clothing and in the comfort of home. Mental image: Riding a trail and finding another person with bare feet, trying to fold themselves into a knot to get their feet into their armpits, not sure it’s even possible, but it provides many minutes of entertainment!

If your feet get soaked in the heat of the day in the winter, imagine what happens when the temp starts dropping, they will begin to cool. How can we avoid this? Keep our feet and shoes dry. Some people have excessively sweaty feet and some have feet that behave well when contained in the socks and shoes of winter. Thick socks can provide more insulation, but also provides more storage space for perspiration. You need footwear that insulates and breaths or spend less time in the cold. What about cycling shoes?

Summer weight shoes breathe nicely, but don’t provide much insulation and most are vented and will let all that cold air in when you’re trying to take a KOM by flying down the bike deserted path at 30mph, or scaring hikers on that sweat stretch of singletrack. Time for winter solutions. Years ago, I learned a nice solution from a friend- cut two corners from a plastic grocery bad (recycling!) and put these over my toes and slip it into the bike shoe. This blocked the cold air from my toes and that helped tremendously, but if this caused perspiration to build, then my feet got cold. One cold day ride, I forgot to slip into my bags, I stopped at one of the dog poo bag dispensers, took a bag, and tore it into two pieces for my feet and continued my ride much more comfortably.

Sugoi Zap Bootie, many reflective dots.

Booties are a great solution. There are many options, from basic waterproof to insulating, and some designed purely for aerodynamics. I have rain booties, Sugoi Zap Bootie, which will block wind from the feet and work as a shield in the winter. And I have winter booties, the Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Shoe Covers, wind proof, water proof, and insulating. Each have their strong points and will lower the effective riding temperature allowing you to chase those KOM’s when the traffic drops due to low temps, or just to ride to work.

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Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Shoe Covers

But when you grow tired of slipping, or forcing, your shoe into booties, consider the next level- winter shoes. I got my first pair back in 2010, Specialized Defroster. Why did I wait so long? No more plastic bags, no more forcing shoes into booties, simply put my socked foot in a different, taller shoe, and on my way! Wish I’d had these at cyclocross nationals in Bend in 2009! I found that I could comfortably ride when the temps dropped below freezing.

I had developed a desire to ride to work on the coldest day of the winter, and now this would be easier, and without hobbling gently in the building on near numb feet, avoiding all obstacles to insure I didn’t bump my toes into something causing that jolt of pain surging through the remaining nerves that worked. I did find discover a limitation of these warm shoes. On that first coldest day of the winter with these shoes, before sunrise, as many of us work the dreaded 7:30- 4:30 hours of the loyal, it’s 14 degrees F, and I get a flat tire. So much for my confidence in tubeless, but I knew there was a problem. The tire had lost pressure the previous day, and I didn’t investigate why, I just added air.

While solving my tire problem, I’m working my hands and fingers through rewarming activities, and the bottoms of my feet are beginning to feel the cold frozen surface of the dirt road I’m standing on. That thick hard plastic foot bed is conducting my foot heat to dirt, just as science proves with surface contact. Fortunately, I got rolling again before my feet went numb, but that was a learning experience. And a year or two later, on another coldest day of the year, riding to work again, I got a flat. I’ll say that asphalt is no warmer than hardpack dirt before sunrise, at 14 degrees F!

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Northwave Celsius 2 GTX

The Specialized shoes were great for years, but at the six year point, I thought it best to upgrade before winter. Synthetic insulation in clothing and other items that get flexed and compressed often, will lose bulk over time. And shiny new shoes are awesome! Winter cycling shoes had gained more popularity since 2010, and there were many more options. I knew that I’d probably ride short distances down near 0, but that’s only short exposure time also. After realizing it would be difficult to justify the much warmer Artic rated boots, I decided on the Northwave Celsius 2 GTX MTB Boot.

I was impressed as soon as I opened the box! Probably because they were clean, unscratched, and the black, red, and silver color scheme was nice. The insulation felt thicker than the old Specialized shoes, the fit was good, and the tread was nice and think, plenty thick to protect the Crank Bros cleat. I was slightly excited for winter to arrive (I never say that!).

The Northwaves have held up good for three winters. The upper flexible insulated parts are holding up well, given all the flexing/folding while getting my feet in. The speed lacing system is simple, but I’ve always thought there could be a bit more security; the upper only has Velcro, the laces only go up so high. Although the fit is good, there is one issue, and I’m sure it’s normal by virtue of this being a bike shoe. While walking, yes I do walk in my mtb shoes on my local trails, because I ride singlespeed and things get too steep sometimes. Walking up steep hills is much more comfortable in a more flexible non-mtb shoe, picture a running shoe. Steeper hills cause friction and hot spots on my heels, and that’s with the shoe synched tight. With hardly any flex in the sole this is mostly unavoidable, and with generous implementation of “French technique” stepping, it’s no problem. (Yes, French technique, you should see some of the climbs here!)

When do I wear these shoes? I dig them out about mid-November and will put them away in March, hopefully. I can tolerate the insulation up to 55F, but only if I’m riding after work on a day with a cold morning. With my rain booties or the insulated booties, I could ride when a little colder, but I’m not sure I need to, or want to.

Northwave has changed the product since my purchase. It now has SLW2 lacing, similar to Boa, all on the outside of the shoe, unlike my older shoes. This should bring a little more security and should make it easier to get in and out of these shoes. They also have two additional colder models, providing comfort further down the thermometer, which I’d really like to have an excuse to try, but I don’t love winter that much. A friend once told me that he doesn’t ride when the temp is lower than his age. That’s sounds like a great rule, but I like riding year round, and not because it’s cold out, but just because it’s riding. But that doesn’t mean that I would avoid the opportunity to live in the tropics! Even in the tropics, there’s a chance your feet will get wet, and you’d have find a way to dry your feet in a humid environment, but at least you wouldn’t need to attempt to put your feet in your armpits to get them warm.


Run 10 Miles In My Shoes

Run 10 miles in any shoe and it feels great to take those torture devices off! Well, the torture doesn’t always come from the shoe, often it’s maybe a run too long for one’s capability.  When I transition from short to long runs,  my feet and legs are sometimes not happy. Maybe it’s the shoes, or the socks, or the surface I chose that day. Pavement or dirt, thick sock or thin, I have never wanted to put any shoe back on and repeat a long run for at least a few days after.

My preferred surface is dirt, running off road has always been my preference. Pavement or concrete does not provide the mental comfort I want when running. But do other surfaces actually have a physical effect on my enjoyment? I do not know, maybe science has proven or disproved this somewhere, but it’s true for me. Sometimes I’ll do a few road miles to get to the trail, and those fade away after a few steps into the forest or desert. And, my secret affliction, I abhor white athletic shoes (and socks), and I quickly realized years ago that trail shoes rarely came with any white materials. Perfect!

ALTRA Lone Peak 2.0 (Unknown miles)

Dirt is where I belong. Routes that twist and turn and climb and dive, and vary from super tacky clay to loose deep sand, to roots and rocks, leaves or pine straw, wet or dry. I’ve had a variety of trail shoes, but I’ve found my needed fit in Altra trail shoes. I got a pair of Lone Peak 2.0, back in fall of 2015, and the fit around my toes was amazing! The other shoes I had been running in had not caused any toe issues, but these felt so relaxed, and so much more comfortable. The shoe professional suggested I do short easy runs until I get used to the Zero Drop technology, but I’m hard headed, and just continued my normal running. No issues, just pleasure!

ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 (first pair) 361 Miles

After more than a year, it was time for new shoes, the tread was gone in the “busy areas” of these shoes. I had an opportunity to try another brand of shoe, at an amazing price. After a few runs and about 30 miles, I realized the Altra fit was much better for my feet, and there was another issue with the new shoe that I had never encountered before or since, (I won’t mention the brand as they are no longer in the running market). Time for new shoes again.

I got the Lone Peak 3.0, and with a few changes from the 2.0, these were even better! A complete appearance upgrade, and tread pattern change, and these were awesome! I put 361 miles on these, and enjoyed them so much that I bought a new pair about a year later. And I got the same color (won’t get the same color shoe again, as I keep the old ones around for casual duty, I have to look closely to grab the right pair).

ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 (second pair) 459 Miles

The new ones arrived just in time for the 2018 Korea 50 trail race, same model with no advertised modifications. I assumed the fit and feel would be the same, and I was right. Yes, I showed up to a long event with never worn new shoes. And it was a good bet, the shoes were just as I expected, just the old ones when new. I had a great race in those new shoes, the only issue is that I had to stop and tighten the laces once, around the 15 mile point. They worked great in all the rock climbing and descending on the course, all the loose powder dirt, and all the cruising through the forest, and a few road miles (yuck!). I now have 459 miles on these, and they are still comfy!

ALTRA Instinct 4, 254 Miles (looks like time for a replacement)

I do have a pair of road shoes, Altra Instinct 4, and I wear these intentionally, with the plan of doing nothing but road miles. And I sometimes succeed in not going offroad on these road runs, but it’s difficult to go past a trailhead. Got these about a year ago, they now have 254 miles. Is it time for a replacement? New shoes might relieve some of the post-run discomfort, and the mental boost of new stuff always helps performance! These have been great shoes and have helped reduce my dislike of pavement. I ran the 2018 Seoul Marathon in these, and against my hatred of road runs, I registered for the 2019 race. (I think I need new shoes just so I can mentally run faster!)

With the need for new road shoes and trail shoes, I’ll go with Altra again, as I’ve really enjoyed their products. The question is- Do I really need new shoes? Well, the tread on the toe and heel areas is almost slick on the Lone Peaks, either I’m using those sections a lot, or I’m dragging them unnecessarily in my sloppy stride. What about the shoe guts, all the cushioning layers, is this all worn out after the suggested replacement miles?

If I compare these shoes to a dead sofa or my well used car seats, I’d have to agree that any padding or cushioning materials will lose the suspension qualities over an amount of time or compression. Even a metal spring will fatigue with extended use. With a fully synthetic running shoe, there are many different materials, but all will breakdown with exposure to the environment; although I couldn’t tell you how long a new pair of shoes would maintain like new performance if you left them outside on the picnic table, and the dog didn’t chew them up. So, without a picnic table, or a dog, or the resources to just buy new shoes and not wear them, I believe they will breakdown with use. But do I follow the shoe replacement guidelines? Everything I’ve found suggests 300-500 miles, depending on body weight and running mechanics.

For dirt, I’m planning to get the Lone Peak 4, or the King MT 15, and for road, probably the Instinct 4.5.  Both have been upgraded, but I have my fingers crossed the replacements will provide the same satisfaction. Maybe I’ll get them in time to put a few miles in each before I toe the starting lines this year. Other than one bad issue with one running shoe, I’m always so excited to have new ones that I’m not sure I’d ever be able to admit there was a problem, especially when I’ve had nothing but good “luck” with Altra. Yes, I could read online reviews, but who does that?

Speed of Light

How many lumens are needed to ride at 20 mph at midnight? How many donuts do you need when you’re craving donuts? Two questions that will get many varied answers. I can’t tell you the correct number for either question, but usually two Hot N Fresh Krispy Kreme glazed takes care of my craving, but that sugar doesn’t energize my brain enough to determine how many lumens are ever needed for riding. What is too much sugar, and what is too many lumens? I think we could find the “too much” point for sugar, but with bike lights, some people need to carry a small Sun with them when riding, but it’s probably not really necessary.

The other more important question is do I need to be seen or do I need to be able to see where I’m going?  Maybe I just need to find my way to Krispy Kreme to see if the HOT-N-FRESH sign is lit!  Sometimes you may know the terrain well, or there are sufficient street or path lights to see the terrain and most hazards, but you need other people to see you. I’ve been there, and used many small simple cheap lights for years. But one of the best I found was the Blackburn Fleas, white front and red rear. But there were some non-commuting rides when I needed to see the terrain. Years before I got fleas, I realized I needed the brightest light available to ride offroad at night, and I got one from Night Sun, 1991 or 92, dual beam. It may have been around $160.00, and was really bright! This light was not waterproof, not that I ever tested it, it was a simple aluminum dual halogen (maybe) bulb system with a heavy water bottle battery pack. Night trail riding!

My next expensive light was a twin bulb Night Rider, around ’93, and maybe $220.00. Brighter, water proof, but still with heavy water bottle battery. A few years later, I ran a NiteRider MiNewt, single LED, small battery pack, not bad, but not speeding on the trails. Around 2013, I got a NiteRider MiNewt 600 Cordless, and a 350. These are LED’s, just like the Blackburn Fleas, and they were extremely bright! The numbers were lumen claims, and probably accurate. As with all rechargeables, run time starts dropping eventually. It was time to upgrade.

After looking at new light prices, I thought I’d roll the dice on some of those cheap lights online. You may recall the Magicshine stories from the late 2000’s, battery issues had caused fires while recharging. I decided I’d just charge the light at the office, why burn my apartment down? Actually my office building is fairly flame retardant, and odorless and tasteless and colorless, and without me- it’s humorless. After cruising through the many pages of headlights, I chose the ThorFire (claimed 1000 lumens). It arrived in the usual “Chicago 7” time frame (long story, another time). Charged the battery, mounted it and realized I had spent my $30.00 wisely! Only problem has been the Velcro strap on the battery pack, the stitching failed, but I solved that easily. This light has a 5VDC connector, but came with a USB adapter cord, which allowed the use of a typical power pack instead of the smallish battery that came with the light, (4k mAh or 10k mAh, no decision!). Later, I mounted the light to my Kali mtb helmet, it has an accessory mount in top. The USB adapter cord easily reached a power pack in my jersey pocket. This light has a nice spread out beam pattern, great for trails.

Thought I’d order another cheap light, one for each bike. After a little more searching, I decided on the Te-Rich (claimed 1200 lumens). Huge advantage here was the USB plug, I could use a 10k unit! The package came with a USB to USB cord for recharging the battery pack. Cool feature is the illuminated USB logos on both ends of this wire, they start red and then go blue when the stock battery is fully charged. The light has a ¼ inch camera screw mount and a plastic bracket that straps around the handlebar. After mounting it a few times, the plastic tightening system was stripping threads. It didn’t fail, but was risky.

After a lengthy search of hundreds of camera mounts for motorcycle handlebars, I found a good solution, and it wasn’t plastic. I chose a Minoura Camera Mount, 28-35 mm, metal, more durable, but weighs a little more. For $18.23, my headlight will not move, unless I want it to. The Te-Rich beam is symmetrical, and it works great upside down hanging under the bar on the Minoura bracket, out of the way.

A little over two years later, the Te-Rich died. I don’t know how many hours or miles, but I used this light on my CX bike almost year round. I did a little troubleshooting, no luck. But, it was too cheap to actually try to fix, especially since I don’t have the tools necessary to do electronics work, and maybe not the brain power needed either. So, I ordered another one, and I was able to order only the light unit and not all the accessories; the replacement was only $19.00!

I bought a third, completely different light, the Suniness, (claimed 5000 lumens, $21.99), but I have not used it enough to comment. I wasn’t expecting 5000 lumens, it may be around 700.

In comparison to popular lights sold at bike shops, these are a fraction of the price, and the solid high quality feel is not quite there. Many say these’ll fail well before their competitors, such as NiteRider, but when a light costs $30.00, compared to $600.00, I can buy a few spares. Neither solution- warranty nor spare, will light the trail when the unit fails during a ride, and that is the risk of the lower quality cheap lights. I will say that before I moved, I never bought bike things online, only shopped at my favorite local bike shop, and there are advantages with the LBS, such as help when things break. Low price online is no match for the priceless relationship you can develop at a local shop!

So, how much light do you need? I’ve been in mtb races through the night, when I thought an aircraft was about to land on my rear wheel, while my yellow light was trying to painting the trail in the wrong color. And I’ve seen bikes with lights that barely lit the trail. What was necessary? How fast can you go using different lights? I’ll say that it varies with the skill of the rider, the darkness of the night, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the amount of sleep you’ve had. And the all-important factor- are you afraid of the dark? I sometimes have to stop and shine the light towards the sound, and sometimes I can ignore the rustling of leaves caused by those imaginary beasts, the ones that only eat people on the trails at night. For me, every night ride is just another scene from Blair Witch Project, and no amount of light can eliminate the creatures hiding in the bushes.

NOTE: When searching for these lights online, you’ll probably see the same light with many different names.


I Squandered My Vision

I was on a longer mtb ride about 15 years ago, and my chain broke. No big deal, I always had a multitool and some spare chain links. After the group got stopped and were rejoining, I was trying to see the parts of the chain and realized I couldn’t focus well enough to fix it. Had to ask that embarrassing question: “I can’t see, can you help me?” Of course I got a volunteer, and we eventually got going again. The rest of the ride, I wondering why me, only during the non-exciting pedally sections . What’d I do to my vision?

I think I spent too much time looking at the wrong things, new bikes, shiny parts, reading articles about exiting trails, but in reality, I may have not squandered my vision, just happens with age. And it doesn’t seem to come back with reduced use! I realized I would have to take some type of reading glasses so I could take care of small close issues that arise. I could see perfectly beyond about 4 feet, or so I thought, the first prescription proved I was wrong. I’ve been wearing bifocals for about 15 years now. Maybe some things way out there are getting a little fuzzy.

I went to WalGreens and got some of those really narrow readers that come with a small case, put them in the CamelBack. I knew there had to be a better, simpler solution. Eventually, the GPS started getting fuzzy, and using this to follow unknown course began to be a navigation issue. I was getting so near to needing a solution that I didn’t have to stop and pull out of the bag.

I mentioned this problem on the local bike email list and got a suggestion for stick on reader strips from a fishing store. These were great, from Hydrotac, Added these to the bottom of my riding glasses and all was good! Until they fall off when the adhesive fails, around a month or two. I used these until I discovered the next solution.

Rudy Project, with the slightly visible reader lens edge. These are polarized also.

Walking around the Interbike Outdoor Demo Day, in 2012, we stopped to check out the Rudy Project booth, really liked one of their helmets that I had been wearing, And what did my fuzzy eyes find? Rudy Project glasses with reading lenses! I got a pair, around $60.00, and enjoyed a few years of trouble-free vision needs while riding.


As I continued to squander my vision, I needed a stronger lens. In comes Tifosi, I got a pair of Veloce Readers, with a stronger magnification than the Rudy’s, plenty strong! Great glasses and not quite as dark as the Rudy Project lenses, so I could ride into the evening a little further.

Tifosi Veloce, with the slightly visible reader lens edge.

After a couple years with these, I realized I needed clear lenses, since I was riding during dark more and more. Tifosi once again had the solution- transition lenses! Plenty dark on a sunny day and almost clear at night, and the reading strip was plenty strong, still is. I’ve abused the clear pair for over two years with no issues. Many miles of biking and running. I clean the lenses with soapy water usually, the surface is holding up well. Looking at these from the front, when they are clear, you can see the reader strip, but otherwise they’re just great looking sport glasses.

TIfosi clear
Tifosi Veloce Light Night Fototec Readers

Can I really see distant things that great? No, but I’ve tried to ride with my prescription glasses, and depth of field is too jacked to feel comfortable. I prefer my unadjusted distant vision, but with the reading capability of the Tifosi glasses, I’ve been able to see my way through everything.

The Ever Abused Pedal

The first time I rode a bike without the usual toe straps was quite an experience, 1991. Early SPD’s (Shimano pedals), with the tension not adjusted to a good place. Tension adjustment on a pedal reminded me of ski bindings, had a bad experience with those once, didn’t let go when it should have, lead to a leg cast for a few weeks, got better eventually.

That day with new pedals taught me two things- know how to fall, and to look closer at new stuff for hidden secrets. I hobbled into a local hardware store the next day and found an Allen wrench small enough to drastically reduce the tension on the pedals. Everything was great now, I could get out of these easier than toe straps! No more embarrassing falls after stopping. Wet roots and rocks was such a good place to learn how to fall over!

The Eggbeater! These have been on my Specialized Black and Tan for almost 3 years!

A friend offered me a pair of Crank Bros Eggbeaters, in 2003, I like new stuff, especially free new stuff, so I said YES! Why was he giving them away? I was suspicious. He said he kept falling over, couldn’t get released. He said they weren’t adjustable like SPD’s, but had a lot of movement around the cleat. Sounded great to me, I never liked the precise positioning of the SPD and had no desire for increasing any tension mechanisms.

After a quick study of the cleat, odd shape, and pedals, I mounted everything, and went for a ride. I could not believe my friend didn’t like these and that he couldn’t get out of them easily, and it was much easier getting in and out of them, with four entry points. No hidden internal gunk collecting parts, just simple bars and springs, all external. Too simple to be true!

After a year and a half on the Giant TRANSMIT, walked quite a bit on this cleat set!

After 16 years riding Eggbeaters, I’ve had no complaints. The only pedal I’ve considered switching to is a fat set of carnivorous flats, but that’ll require some commitment to a learning curve. I’ve had a few different models of the Eggbeater, but never the titanium version. The Ti model was always out of my price range, I was always at the $100 level on pedals. And all these cheaper versions have been great.

Pedal Pile
Only a few of these are “unusable”, (using my definition)

You probably would not call me a normal “roadie”, never chased points and upgrades, but I really enjoy long endurance rides. I had a set of road pedals at one time, and after trying to walk in them I decided it was an unnecessary punishment. I’ve been running eggbeaters on everything for many years, and the comfort of the MTB (mountain bike) shoe while off the bike, and not sliding down on a chunk of plastic mounted to a shoe is a huge plus!

Six months on the Road/CX bike

Why have I bought new Eggbeaters? Four parts will wear over time- spindle bearings, springs, the bars, and the cleats. What’s the worst failure point? A Candy pedal body left the spindle on a ride once, the securing nut had worked loose and it slid right off. Fortunately, the dust cap was on and all the parts were there. I reassembled, and this worked a while, but eventually it came loose again and I lost parts that time.

I won these Candies in a race, but didn’t want another set, just a plain Eggbeater, so I put the Candies in the back of the bike space, lost forever, and got a new set of Eggbeaters. The bearings will get a little clunky after a couple years, but I always just get a new pair instead of replacing the worn parts. And that leads me to my replacement process.

I’ve worked this out for years and it fits my requirements. No scientific testing here, nor precise evidence, but I have a process. When I get a new set, I put those on the bike, but not the new cleats. Why? Remember, I don’t like a tight fit, and this combo of new pedal and old cleat provides the feel I like. After about six months I’ll replace the cleats. By then the old cleats are almost unrecognizable, I walk a bit on mine (single-speed MTB requires occasional walks). With this replacement process, I can stretch my “new pedal experience” out for almost a year.

Even though the cleats sometimes are unrecognizable, they still work! As it wears down, it will fit loose, and sometimes a little clicking sound occurs during crank rotation. I’ve seen a broken bar on one (I didn’t do it). I’ve seen the remains of the broken titanium spindles, and resulting leg injuries. I may have considered the Eggbeater 11 Ti version, especially while on a team with a great price connection, but I shied away due to the broken ones I had seen. The weight difference between the 11 and the 3 is only about 2 Snickers Bars, so I could just leave two of those at home before heading out on a ride!

My collection has varied between the 1, 2, and 3. I have a set of 1’s on my CX/road bike now, because the store I was buying supplies at only had the 1’s. The 3’s always feel better (completely subjective assessment based on the price and perceived quality after paying a little more). If I had kept records over these 16 years, I might be able to say the 3’s last longer. However, the only accurate claim I can make is that these have always been worth the price, providing an interface with the bike that requires minimal thought.


Tubeless Stress

Tubeless Stress- At least that’s what I call the mental condition I get stuck in every time I setup a new tire. This began years ago, with my first tire conversion, 2004 maybe. These were not any version of “tubeless ready” and the rims had no hints at any special design features to allow this change. I didn’t trust it to stay inflated, constantly giving the tires a squeeze. One of those first tires popped a bead, on a landing, and no matter how hard I tried, it would not seal again.

With every tire replacement, or other set of wheels, I’d get stressed out going through the initial setup. Will it seal? Will it hold pressure? Will the bead roll in a fast turn? Stress! I still get it, even though tires and wheels have changed a bit since. Success is definitely more common now. But, sometimes, it just doesn’t work. Of all the fails over the years, the sealant has never been an issue, until now.

Years ago, Pedro’s quit selling their dry lube. I found a great replacement in Finish Line’s dry lube. Well, Finish Line created a tire sealant, and being a dedicated fan, I had to try it. On a visit home in mid 2018, I stocked up on some bits and pieces, including two bottles of FL sealant,, and two new Hutch Sector 28’s. I had planned not to mount these for another month or so, but was really anxious to use what would become my new favorite sealant! I decided to mount these new tires on my secondary road tubeless wheelset.

Finish Line Sealant
Finish Line Tubeless Tire Sealant

Since I was impatient, as always with new things, my old tires became the guinea pig. These tires were a year old, Hutch Sector 28’s, that were having difficulty holding air. I had added four patches to one and added more Stan’s sealant. They’d hold air for a while, and then noticeable loss over bight. This was getting old, and I had the solution!

I read the label on the new sealant. Nothing odd in the instructions. I drained the old sealant and added the new. I was relaxing already, knowing these tires would be cured. Well, that high didn’t last through the first day, had to add about 50 psi in the morning, to get to my normal of 80. Lost air while sitting in the office, had to pump before riding home. After a few days, they were doing better, and then got worse again. Hmm, this new sealant just didn’t cure my tire illness.

Now it was time to just get the new tires and start from scratch. The bead setup great, usual pops. Great! Next day, a little air was lost. No “milk beads” anywhere, except a little around the bead, but no clue it was fresh. I pumped. Rode. Next day, same thing. No air loss for about a week. Then back to loss, randomly. A month later, I put them on my main road wheelset, Easton EA90s. These have no spoke holes, eliminating tape issues. Guaranteed setup, usually.

Leaks. Sealed for a few days. Leaks. Good for a few days. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lose pressure during a ride, always good for confidence, started cutting rides short. New tires, new sealant, added more sealant, foolproof rims. I give up.

Before I moved, I was mixing sealant, varying the recipe constantly, but they all worked. I started with the world famous “Wadester” recipe, from down the road in Las Cruces. I only changed the mixtures because I was finding a new version every time I searched on line. Haven’t tried to find the needed ingredients here, in South Korea, I just order a new bottle of Old Reliable occasionally.

Stan’s Tire Sealant (Old Reliable)

I removed the Sectors, inspected and scrubbed them and the rims, mounted with a dose of Old Reliable. I was thinking the tires may have an issue, fingers crossed! But all is well, tires sealed, works as expected. Only have to add air as normal, (at least what I’ve learned is normal). So, my two bottles of FL sealant is now only one third of one bottle, and will remain that way, sitting on a shelf, lonely, forgotten. I used almost a full bottle in the first set of tires, and over half a bottle in the new set, and it just didn’t work as expected. I don’t know why the tires were drying out either, as the FL sealant was supposed to last longer. (“Never Dries Out”)

I’ve thought Stan’s had changed the formula over the years, maybe, maybe not. But I do know that calling it Old Reliable is a safe title. Maybe I did something wrong in my experience with the FL sealant, but I have added, mixed, combined, more sealant products and my recipes than I can remember, and never had this issue. If the Finish Line product changes, I may try it again, but for now, I have a Finish Line paperweight on far end of the bench.


Making a Singlespeed

It may be no secret that I’ve been riding singlespeed since around 2009. Yes, I did ride a few geared bikes in that time- spent a week on many speed Specialized road bike, a couple years on a Norco downhill bike, and a random ride here or there on other bikes. But most of miles have been on one gear, either freewheeling or fixed, for a few years now. When it came time for a new cyclocross bike, I had the opportunity to get a geared bike and convert it, which is often a better loaded bike than the three “off the shelf” singlespeeds I had bought before.

I was “connected” to a Cannondale dealer, which resulted in an amazing deal on a 2015 CAADX Rival Disc, couldn’t pass this up, even if it meant I would have to solve the SS problem. After much research, I found the best solution- Wheels Manufacturing, makes BB30 Eccentric Bottom Brackets!

A little worn, but still works great!
Not new, but you can see how it works, a little.

The bike did not get ridden until it was converted, but it did have one small issue. BB30, (if it still exists), must have a stop for the bearings to rest against. On this bike, it only had C-clips, got lucky. Some bikes had machined ridges of BB material, but not mine. So what was the issue? For some unknown, to me, reason, Cannondale didn’t machine completely, the inside of the BB shell. This resulted in a ridge of aluminum, vertically, in the center and on the back 1/3 of the shell. The issue?

The grinding scars are visible in both images.

The EBB assembly has two bolts reaching through the BB space, connecting both sides, and providing the position security when tightened. The bolts would move past the excess material in the BB space stopped full rotation and reducing the chain tension adjustability needed. I ground it down smooth with a grinder bit on a drill. With this free movement, the system allows a 2 rear tooth increase or decrease, without breaking the chain.


This EBB was well worth the retail price, $135.00, as I now have 18,070.6 miles on it, (as of 31 January 2019). No problems at all. I remove, clean, replace, every couple of months, but no issues. I had a thought that I wasn’t using the correct tools for removal and replacement, it’s a very tight fit, but can rotate easily with a spanner. I contacted Wheels Manufacturing, and although I really wanted some shiny new tools, they said I didn’t need anything special. Dagnabbit! (Even though I’m not old enough to use that word). Shiny tools are a drug!

After a good cleaning, I add some grease to all the contact areas.

With the Enduro bearings, and with proper installation, this thing may last the life of the bike; I’m in no hurry to solve this again with another conversion product, but the challenge is always good. There’s always some kind of issue with everything, so, I’ll admit, it rotated on two rides last year. Not a big deal, if you don’t mind a sagging chain, but those tend to bounce off the ring easily. This may have happened due to not tightening after adjustment, not sure of any other way this thing could move. I had to get creative and find a way to rotate this thing without a spanner. I solved it both times, but decided I should carry some type of “correct” tool for the job.


I found the Pedro’s Trixie, and it looked like the best option. You’re right, haven’t had an issue since I’ve been hauling this weightless tool on all my rides. Other issues? I thought the EBB was creaking, a few times. I did the cleaning thing, didn’t go away. I later discovered my freewheel body was eating itself from the inside out. Could be a SS torque issue.

Typical spanner wrench.
Pedro’s Trixie wrench!

WM makes a few versions of this EBB, should solve most any need. Make sure you get the right one! And enjoy a simple conversion, and no chain tensioners.