Berryman Epic MTB Morning

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Okay, I hope I got all my bad luck over yesterday.  Bill, Trudi and I jumped into the van and drove to the Bass River Resort, outside of Steelville Missouri, an hour south St. Louis. It’s about 5 hours.   Bill and I are riding the Berryman Epic this morning at 8:30 am.

We got there early enough to pre-ride an hour or so.  And it got ugly for me.  We rode out the gravel climb and then got to the first singletrack section, about 4 miles in.  There is a pretty rocky descent, totally covered with leaves, early in the section.  We rode down it, but it was sketchy.  We kept riding up the next technical climb, then turned around to do the descent and climb again.

The 2nd time down the descent, I blew my rear tire off the rim.  I think what happened was that I had a couple thorns in the tire, it lost air, I burped it, then it came off.  Whatever the reason, it wasn’t good.  I put in a tube, only to find another thorn, so changed the tube again.

Then I spent the next two hours trying to mount another tire.  We got to an air compressor, but it didn’t put shit out for air.

Plus, my rim was dented in 4 or 5 places.  I straightened the rim and finally just patched the original tire and got it remounted.  Not without using two CO2 cartridges.   Plus, my best pump, a Park, started leaking air, so I don’t have any correct air pressure.

Anyway, it was stressful.  Okay, have to get going.  50 miles of mostly singletrack to ride fast today.  I think I’m going alright, so it should be fun.

The whole course is going to be deep covered in leaves.

The whole course is going to be deep covered in leaves.  This is the road we start on, then it is pure singletrack.

My rim was dented in a few places.

My rim was dented in a few places.


Fixin' it with a Cresent wrench and Campy BB tool.

Fixin’ it with a Cresent wrench and Campy BB tool.


I just straightened them with a cresent wrench on a Campy BB tool.

You have to be careful not to over bend it.

A tube after latex is a mess.

A tube after latex is a mess.



18 thoughts on “Berryman Epic MTB Morning

  1. Calvin Jones

    Great article Steve. You capture the event and mood exactly. Nice pics. I laughed, I cried, I learned, all while at home with a coffee. You are completely exonerated now for not finding the cause of the previous dead tube in the middle of the road.

  2. Mark

    A couple of wraps of any sort of tape around your wheel should make inflation much easier. Good luck today!

  3. Barb

    The alleged benefit of being able to go tubeless is you can run lower tire pressure and it’s not so bouncy. Is that correct? But running lower pressure, I keep reading about how this pro or that pro flatted out in a race running tubeless. But I’ve never flatted out running tubes, except for when I was using Race King with tissue paper sidewalls and hit some thorns. Other than that, I don’t think there’s much weight advantage to running tubeless, and does lower tire pressure really help? I don’t know. It does seem like “a mess” and that people flat more with them, than not. Am I mistaken?

  4. Larry T.

    Your last few posts about mechanical issues make me want to race right out and buy a battery-powered bicycle with the oh-so-wonderful “tubeless” tires so I too can enjoy all this fun. Why must the bike industry insist on turning a beloved, simple machine into a technological pain-in-the-a__? And why do consumers so eagerly cough up piles of money for all this stuff? I can understand if you get it free or even better, get paid to use it..but other than that, why?
    I hear it mostly about road tubeless – “You can run 80-90 psi and enjoy a smoother ride” they tell me. Already do that with clinchers and tubes. “You’ll avoid pinch flats” they swoon. Don’t get pinch flats. “You almost never have a flat at all” they counter. Rarely have flats of any kind and if/when I do, a $6 inner tube goes in pretty quickly and easily and I’m back on the road. Seems like technology for technology’s sake to me rather than any real improvement?

  5. Robo

    I’m laughing at everyone’s comments re: tubeless. There really is no comparison to rubbing tubes vs. tubeless, particularly on technical terrain. Tubeless is vastly superior. Why else would pros ride it? Because they get paid to? I think they’d throw a tube in and not tell anyone if tubes were really superior. Steve send pretty knowledgeable about bikes – why would he bother with tubeless if it weren’t a better system? And it has nothing to do with weight – the traction advantages of tubeless systems are so dramatically superior, that it’s not even a contest. I’m sure some of you will argue otherwise, but not the ones who have actually ridden tubeless. I ride in the front range of the Colorado Rockies, and tubeless is easily the single most important technological upgrade I’ve ever made.

    Take a second and reread the post: he blew the tire because he was under-inflated because of a THORN, not because tubeless is unreliable technology. His tire was under-inflated, not completely flat. If he weren’t going down a rocky descent, he may have been able to complete the ride. That same THORN would have killed his tube immediately. A rocky descent alone could have killed the tube. And in that scenario, he could have damaged his rim just as easily. The challenge of reseating his tire was a result of the damaged rim and a weak compressor, not the fault of tubeless technology. And in the rare event of a tubeless failure on the trail, you simply install a tube (which were no match for the thorns). True, the need for a compressor can be a hassle. But I have several sets that in able to easily seat with a floor pump or a co2. And if you have the ability to live the bead with soapy water, it gets even easier.

    Do some homework. Or better yet, actually try tubeless. If you ride on rocky or technical terrain, you’ll never go back.

    And if you’d like an encore, if be happy to rant about the advantages of road tubeless. 🙂

  6. RGTR

    Please do rant on about road tubeless. The tubeless haters have disheartened me about the whole technology and I’ve been thinking about trying them. Would also love to know what road tubeless wheels are good? I’ve been wanting to try it for 2-3 years now but I’m a cheap bastard and my current wheels won’t die. I ride road only so keep that in mind whilst you rant away.

  7. Larry T.

    MTB I don’t care about as an old fart who rides one rarely – a bike with (horrors!) old-time 26″ wheels with tubes in the tires.
    Based on your logic the road pros should all be smart enough to be racing on tubeless clincher tires as well. But it seems most (all?) are instead riding old-time tubulars, those things that need to be glued on. Same for ‘cross racers. Are all these pros just not as smart as you or are they getting paid big bucks to keep using antiquated equipment? Is any big-time pro team racing on road tubeless? Perhaps road tubeless is not all the marketing mavens would like us to believe? I seem to recall back-in-the-day Michelin paid some pro teams enough to switch to their clinchers (with tubes inside) and one of the guys actually managed to win Paris-Roubaix on what I guess you’d describe as horribly inferior equipment. The same equipment that allows me to run reasonable pressures like 80-90 psi while having almost zero flats (including pinch) and in the rare case that I do, a $6 tube gets swapped out and pumped up with a simple frame pump without making a big mess with sealant all over the place. In most cases that tube can be patched and used again making the cost even less. That same bike can hang in the shop for a year or more and with simply reinflating the tires it’s ready to go vs yanking the tires off, cleaning out old, dried up sealant, reinstalling the tires, then adding new sealant. But on the bright side I’d have plenty of time to charge up my DI2 battery while I’m doing all that!!!
    So yes, please go ahead, explain all the advantages that make the extra cost, hassle and mess of road tubeless worthwhile. So far I’ve yet to hear a coherent, convincing explanation of their advantages, especially from someone not directly involved in making a profit from selling them.

  8. Gary

    Don’t you just love those kind of days…? By the way Calvin may be onto something…

    What if the tube Steve picked up on the side of the road th other day WAS left there on purpose, perhaps due its previous handlers knowledge of its demonic possession and tendencies to destroy bikes, equipment and even riders!

    Better check that this wasn’t the same tube Steve.

    Has anyone else noticed how flat tires do indeed tend to plague groups on the same rides…coincidence. or are there greater forces at work here?

  9. Mark

    Steve’s post is almost entirely about MTB tubeless issues. Never says a word about “road” tubeless setups. Robo is right on regarding riding tubeless on Rocky terrain. There really is no comparison.

  10. RGTR

    I’ve been running sewups for 5 years. They’re a pain in the ass and I’m going back to tubes. NEXT!

  11. Wheel Guy

    Vuelta Corsa Pro wheels that are tubeless off ebay: $150.

    Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tires (pair) off ebay: $100.

    Gorilla tape to seal them, the narrow role: $3

    Stan’s stems because they have more rubber on the inside. A rip-off at $15 or whatever, but Stan’s is a rip-off, so below.

    Some Slime from WalMart for the inside: $8 (with a Schrader core remover included, so this stuff is free actually).

    I run them at max 80-85. As low as 55 psi because I never check.

    I pull at least 5 thorns out after every hour. They don’t go flat. At the right PSI (75-80), they feel like cheap tubulars. The fact that they don’t flat mean they’re better than anything else I’ve every used.

    CX bike and 29er are tubeless also, with Slime (eff you, Stans), and butchered valves. Elmers glue with Windex seals and prevents flats, too. Just get the right combo of stuff. I already told you one combo that is easily affordable.

  12. robo

    RGTR: I’m a big fan of road tubeless, but the benefits are certainly more dubious and less obvious. You won’t get the same performance increase that you get with mtb tubeless. I said that tubeless was the single best upgrade I’ve ever made to my mtb. I would NOT say the same for road. they’re good, but not essential. But again, I am a fan and would recommend them to most people (not all).

    For me, tubeless are superior to tubes, but inferior to tubulars. But, for most us, gluing tubular tires is just too much hassle. And the cost of the tires and lack of serviceability make tubulars unfeasible. Tubeless setup can be finicky and time consuming, but once you know what you’re doing its not too bad. And it’s nowhere near as challenging as gluing a tubular.

    With tubeless, you will get a ride quality and cornering capability that is somewhere between tubed clinchers and tubulars. Sure, you can lower your pressure and get great ride and cornering, but you will inevitably pinch and or puncture a tube. You will not pinch a tubeless, and most punctures are sealed without even having to stop.

    So better ride quality without the flats. I know, I know, it’s not worth the cost when tubes are so cheap. But time is money to me. I have two young children and a demanding career. So when I have the opportunity to ride, I usually have a curfew. So I don’t want to lose even 5 minutes to a road side tube replacement. And it just plain sucks to be dropped from my group hammerfest. And as a road racer, I would be depressed if my results suffered and my training was squandered due to a tube failure.


    Yes, tubeless specific tires cost more. But over three years, I would have gone through at least a dozen tubes. So this savings offsets the cost of the tires. And you have much more confidence that you’re not going to pinch flat in dicey sections of road due to debris.

    I started on shimano dura ace c24. They were great wheels. If da is to pricey, try the ultegra version. I did try some stans alpha, which worked as as tubeless system, but generally sucked as a wheel. I’ve recently been alternating between industry nine i25s and pacenti sl23. For me, the industry nines are the total package and I would recommend then to anyone. Light, reasonably aero, wide, and one of the easiest tubeless installs I’ve ever had. The Pacentis offer the same things, and are a great choice of you want to custom build a set specing your own preferred components.

    For tires, I’m LOVING the schwalbe one tubeless 25mm. But I also liked the bontrager r3. I have a set of Hutchinson 28mm, but they don’t seem to hold air as well.

    I hope this helps.

  13. ScottO

    Robo is incorrect. The thorn would have had the same effect on my tube/tire setup – a slow leak. However, I wouldn’t burp all the air out going around the next corner. And the slow leak from the thorn isn’t supposed to happen with a tubeless setup!!!!

    I switched to tubeless on my 29er a couple years ago, switched back after a few instances like Steve’s at Whiskey and Berryman. Catastrophic loss of air and inability to get the tire reinflated on the trail, then using tubes anyway and dealing with the slime.

    I have before and since ridden Colorado/Utah/Idaho trails with tube/tire setups with no traction issues and rarely flat. Rarely flat on the road as well. Ever been in a paceline with someone on road tubeless after they slice a tire? Fountains of latex in your face. And cross = tubulars.

  14. robo

    Agree to disagree. I’m imagining a large thorn, and thus not a slow leak. And Steve probably didn’t have a slow leak as a result of the thorn. I’m speculating, but I assume he had air loss until the sealant was able to plug the hole. If you detect air loss, the best thing to do is stop and rotate the tire so the puncture is down and all the sealant drains to the bottom. That’s not always practical, or sometimes you don’t even notice until it’s too late. But still, the possibility of it resealing on its own is a helluva lot better than the possibility of a tube magically resealing itself.

    As for road, no I’ve never been in a paceline when someone experienced a catastrophic tire cut and sprayed latex all over everyone. I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but i suppose it could happen. But road tubeless doesn’t defend against tire “cuts” any better than tubes or tubulars do. But they do guard against basic pinches and punctures that would otherwise require a tube replacement. We’ve all been on countless rides where guys riding tubes have punctures and have to stop and finish the ride alone. That doesn’t happen to me – if I finish a ride alone, it’s because of rider failure, not equipment failure.

    Tubeless isn’t perfect, and its not fool proof. But you are several times less likely to have flats than you are with tubes. And on a mountain bike, I can ride up obstacles that I never could on tubes.

    That’s just my experience. It works for for me and I love it. Ride whatever works for you.

  15. Larry T.

    “Time is money to me” but you’ve got plenty of time to futz in the shop installing sealant and mounting these things, all to save the cost of a dozen $6 inner tubes a year.And I missed the part about why the pros who are so smart aren’t using road tubeless. I guess they’re just not as smart as you?
    As I wrote before – So far I’ve yet to hear a coherent, convincing explanation of their advantages, especially from someone not directly involved in making a profit from selling them.
    In the end I don’t care what tires you or anyone else uses, it’s your time and money – but I DO care when guys like you go blathering on about how someone who doesn’t use what you use is stupid or a luddite. Things may change but for me it seems road tubeless is more about making current stuff obsolete than making any genuine improvement.

  16. Robo

    Hey Larry, you’re totally right – I’m an idiot and I’m dodging your questions! Go fuck yourself. I was trying to be polite when expressing my own personal opinions, but you keep trying to rub my nose in shit. I don’t owe you a response about what the pros run. But since it seems important to you, allow me to elaborate: My original post was about mtb tubeless, not road. So I was talking about mtb pros running tubeless, not road pros. And my follow ups clearly stated that tubulars are superior to tubeless, but probably unrealistic for the average Joe/weekend warrior. Anyone with a 6th grade education would probably be able to deduct that I wasn’t implying that road pros – with team mechanics, free equipment, and team cars- should be running anything but tubulars. As for the time investment if tubeless, is rather invest time in tire maintenance in the pre-season or later at night in my garage, not on the side of the road during my ride. But that’s a personal thing. And finally, I believe my last comment pretty much sums it up: I personally love tubeless, but you should ride whatever it is you love. But instead you want to be a prick and tell me what I love is dumb. Good luck getting that chip off your shoulder.


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