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benmills

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm riding in an early season gravel event up here in Vermont called the VOMAR (https://www.vermontoverland.com/vomar/).  The conditions can really vary at the end of March from relatively dry, to a mud pit to ice and snow.

Last year was pretty icy and my Soma Cazaderos were really sketchy.  I promised myself that this year I'd buy some studded tires.  I've been looking at the options and they're all marketed strongly towards commuting on icy asphalt.  They're also really heavy which I know is to be expected.

One tire that stood out is the 45NRTH Gravdal 120 tpi.  It's much lighter than the alternatives and has a folding bead.  However it has mixed reviews and I'm wondering how that tread would do if things get muddy.

Anybody have any opinions on the Gravdal?  Or other options for a mixed conditions gravel event?

In my mind, my perfect tire for this event would be a Compass Steilacoom with some light studding.  Would shed mud, give you some security on ice patches and still be fairly light.
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m777

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Reply with quote  #2 
Does your bike have clearance for any of these https://www.schwalbe.com/en/spike-reader/ice-spiker-pro.html? Or may be you have MTB which can fit them?
I have it in 29x2.25 and it got me through several winters. I can fit them to my Karate Monkey or Kona Unit and sometime have fenders on top for sloppy weather stretches. They grip amazing and do excellent job with mud shedding.
On gravel frames I use these https://www.schwalbe.com/en/spike-reader/marathon-winter.html but they are more for road and iced ponds riding.
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Volsung

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Reply with quote  #3 

Gravdals are probably the way to go if you're worried about sliding out on ice.  Maybe if you're competitive just run front studs (lots of people here in Minneapolis do that).  They're also very expensive for average tires, so buying just one isn't a terrible idea.

 

I took out the two center studs on my Gravdals and replaced them with Terrene stud plugs.  It took some time but it feels way less sluggish.  They handled what little mud I've seen just fine, but there wasn't enough to get really bogged down.

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Volsung

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Reply with quote  #4 
Found a pic of it.

Attached Images
jpeg FB_IMG_1520741957141.jpg (147.99 KB, 16 views)

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benmills

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Reply with quote  #5 
I should have said that I have a Salsa Vaya, so I have a fair amount of clearance - probably 700 x 50.

I think I'll give the Gravdals a try.  They're crazy expensive, but they'll give me some peace of mind and they're the lightest of the studded tires by a fair margin.

The Terrene stud plugs are a really interesting option.  I can see how I could get away with the studs on the outside and still have some grip on the ice.
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Flydyl

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Reply with quote  #6 
I currently have some Schwalbe winter studded tires on my CX bike.  Fine for this morning's efforts on the dirt paths and easy single-track, on a mix of dirt and ice.  But I can't imagine racing on them , even if I wasn't trying to be competitive.  They're heavy, slow-rolling tires.  Swapping them out for regular tires in the spring feels like magic.   

In sum, I've never heard of folding, lighter spiked tires, but I would take a good look at that option.  


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Flydyl

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Reply with quote  #7 
Just throwing this out there: I haven't tried the Continental Top Contact tires.  They're studless.  Might be worth looking into their weight and such.  Continentals tend to rank really well in rolling resistance tests.  I know some commuters here in Toronto (Canada) love them.  The reviews on MEC.ca are great.  Conclusion is that they're solid winter tires for most of what we encounter in Canadian commuting, but not as good on sheer ice.  Some suggest studs on front, Top Contact on rear.  
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Volsung

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Reply with quote  #8 
I'd buy em and keep the receipt and mount em at the last second if it's below freezing on race day. I like the tires but I'd way rather use a real gravel tire given the choice.
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #9 
VOMAR should be an absolute mess this year.  The Ascutney area is sitting under about 20-30inches of snow pack right now.  With more to come over the next two days.  I live about an hour south, and we've just been drilled with snow for the last couple weeks and most of our dirt roads aren't passable unless on snow machine 

If I was going to ride this year's VOMAR?.... Fat bike šŸ˜‰ 

As for actual studded gravel tires, it all depends on road conditions.  If it is rutted ice (not rutted dirt/mud with ice in the low points)... be very very careful even with a Grip Studded fatbike. If we've had enough melt and you're dealing with ice in the low spots of dirt ruts, the Gravdals will be great.  Everyone I ride with in the winter has migrated to Gravdals... but be wary of their limits. 

 


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benmills

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olapiquena
VOMAR should be an absolute mess this year.  The Ascutney area is sitting under about 20-30inches of snow pack right now.  With more to come over the next two days.  I live about an hour south, and we've just been drilled with snow for the last couple weeks and most of our dirt roads aren't passable unless on snow machine 

If I was going to ride this year's VOMAR?.... Fat bike šŸ˜‰ 

As for actual studded gravel tires, it all depends on road conditions.  If it is rutted ice (not rutted dirt/mud with ice in the low points)... be very very careful even with a Grip Studded fatbike. If we've had enough melt and you're dealing with ice in the low spots of dirt ruts, the Gravdals will be great.  Everyone I ride with in the winter has migrated to Gravdals... but be wary of their limits. 


That's GREAT to get some local information.  I know the unknown is part of the fun of these kinds of events, but I wish the event organizers would communicate just a little bit on what the expected conditions are.

I actually have a fat bike with studded tires.  Maybe I will go in that direction if the roads are in particularly bad condition this year.  It will be interesting pedaling 24 miles on the fat bike!  I've never done more than 5 on snowy trails before.  If the mud sticks to those already huge tires, then that's going to be some serious rolling weight!
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chas

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Reply with quote  #11 
I have raced on ice  (iceman) and was glad I was not on studded tires.

I have studded tires, and they work great on lakes, or areas where there might be a puddle that is frozen over and has a flat surface.  But, barring that, they are a nightmare effort wise.  Mine are Nokkian - heavy, slow, and stiff.  Yeah, I want a tough sidewall in the winter, but that destroys rolling resistance for racing.  Maybe you found something better?  I'm confident in my bike handling skills, and I race without studs.  

and my caveat - studs are great for black ice, glare ice, flat ice.  This can be a problem with the freeze/thaw cycles this time of year as puddles freeze over on trails, or melting run off freezes over at night, making nightmare glare ice situation.  but the mountain bike and gravel races I do don't tend to have that problem.
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #12 
Have you emailed Peter? 

Depending on conditions I'm fairly certain he'll put out an email ahead of the RIDE. 

The beauty of this RIDE is that it is a total crap shoot.  Bring two bikes and a couple sets of tires, choose once you get up there... be safe, have fun, meet people.  Use it as prep/feel out for Rasputitsa (which is a real race). 

The Overland people put on great events, with the actual RACE that they host (late summer) being fantastic (and totally sold out).

PS... and know that I said 'absolute mess' with a big grin. 
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benmills

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olapiquena
Have you emailed Peter? 

Depending on conditions I'm fairly certain he'll put out an email ahead of the RIDE. 

The beauty of this RIDE is that it is a total crap shoot.  Bring two bikes and a couple sets of tires, choose once you get up there... be safe, have fun, meet people.  Use it as prep/feel out for Rasputitsa (which is a real race). 

The Overland people put on great events, with the actual RACE that they host (late summer) being fantastic (and totally sold out).

PS... and know that I said 'absolute mess' with a big grin. 


I haven't emailed and to be fair, I was commenting more on the Rasputitsa.  Those guys have fun with specifically not telling you anything about the conditions.

I'm definitely doing the VOMAR and the Rasputitsa to ride.  I have zero aspirations to race.  They're great, fun events.  I just want to stay upright and enjoy the experience.  At this point, I think I'll use the fat bike for the VOMAR and the Gravdals on a gravel bike for the Rasputitsa.

Thanks for everyone's advice.
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bnystrom

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Reply with quote  #14 
As much as I like my gravel rig, when it comes to icy conditions, I use either a MTB or fat bike with studs, as I want a wider footprint. I don't race, so my main concern is staying upright and enjoying the ride. I've hit the deck on ice on enough occasions to know how fast it wrecks a good time.

Keep in mind that while studs are great, they don't work in all conditions. The worst is fresh powder over ice, where the snow doesn't bond to the ice, but it conceals it and keeps the studs from reaching it and getting a bite. It's an instant crash as soon as you try to turn or hit an off-camber section. In those conditions, I find something else to do other than riding. [wink]
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #15 

Have fun up at VOMAR this weekend. Weather looks great (though there should be a lot of snow). 

Rasputitsa... I responded originally thinking you were interested in doing the fun ride (VOMAR) with studs...   I'd highly recommend NOT using studs for Rasputitsa.  Please don't take this the wrong way and recognize that this is just my opinion but... the roads are pretty tight/narrow and, with 1000+ riders, unless you are way way off the back you will likely be a hazard (the guy with studs). The only place they might help is the entry to Cyberia... but... that's like 100ft and the wiser choice is to run it like everyone other than the front 30-40 riders. 

While I love my Gravdals, even if it was safe (for others) you couldn't pay me to race Rasputitsa on them (or any studs).  They just slow everything down, especially on steep terrain. There are like 3 decent climbs which average above 6%, with many pitches of 15-20%.... Tacky mud + 15-20% pitches + studs..... that sounds like death to me. 

Last year a buddy did a little 'experiment' to gain an idea of just how horrible studs actually are.  On a mellow 5min climbing segment he clocked his speed/wattage riding studs and riding regular crossy tires.  Same segment on studs required an average of 70 more watts AND he was 2mph slower.  Joy.  On steeps... that's only going to be a lot worse.  



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benmills

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Reply with quote  #16 
At the last minute, I talked myself out of the fat bike (it's so draggy, even with the pressure up to 5 psi).  I put the Gravdals on the Salsa Vaya and rode that instead.  Turned out to be a great choice.  They're pretty loud on pavement, but they're just fine on gravel and dirt.  To be honest, the weather was way better than expected and there wasn't much ice left.  Plenty of people were running studless gravel tires, but I liked that little bit of insurance on the patches of ice.  I'm not sure if it was the ice or hitting a rut, but some poor guy went down hard and looked in a bad way.  Hope he's OK.

As for the tires themselves, I would recommend them.  I don't have much to compare them to, but they didn't feel significantly more draggy than my Soma Cazaderos.  They're a obviously a little heavier, but they still feel plush enough.  They're very expensive for the folding bead version, but I'll feel like I'll get plenty of use out of them.
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #17 
Hey Ben, 

So... it's been a bit wild and wooly in these parts.  You may have seen this: https://www.shorthandledshovel.com/knowledge/

That should help.  

Good luck on Saturday! It should be a slippery mess. 

JS.  
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benmills

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Reply with quote  #18 
I did see that. Looks like Iā€™m going with a 42 soma cazadero. Mud could be interesting!
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #19 
Nice. I'll be running Resolutes. I used them at the Massochisatah (https://www.bikereg.com/massochistah), in similar conditions (snow, ice, a plenty of mud) and absolutely loved them.   

If it's cold, things should be super fast. If it warms up... should be a mud bath. 

JS.  
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #20 
Well... how'd Rasputitsa go for you? Any tequila shots? Or Unicorn hugs? 


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benmills

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olapiquena
Well... how'd Rasputitsa go for you? Any tequila shots? Or Unicorn hugs? 


Rasputitsa was fun!  The weather was way better than I expected.  Not much mud at all, but I did think there were some sketchy patches of ice up high.  There were probably a couple miles where I would have appreciated the studded tires and could have gone much faster.

Was made worse when I lost my front brake 1/3 of the way in to the race.  I think the seal in my TRP HY/RD failed and leaked mineral oil all over the rotor.  Going downhill was definitely sketchy at times and I had to ease up.

I felt good going up the hills and rode that last mile long climb all the way when everyone else (at the back end of the race at least) was walking.  I was kinda disappointed that it then turned in to another snowy trail that we had to walk.  I was ready to keep pushing hard.  I was also a touch disappointed that I couldn't ride over the finish line, though I get what they were doing there and it must have been fun to watch people trying.

How did it go for you?
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #22 
The weather was pretty glorious, wasn't it?

Conditions were pretty perfect.  

Sorry to hear about TRP. That said, they have phenomenal customer service. I highly recommend calling them (not emailing). 

As for me... I had a great but hard day.  My main goals were to (a) set my wife up for a great day on the bike, (b) to catch a fast friend who we figured would blow up and (c) to not get caught by another buddy who is more endurance oriented.  Well... I came close: 

Wife had an absolute blast (shots, hugs, mid-course push-ups for prizes, etc...), finished strong, and had no mechanicals... so... I am thrilled. 

As doe me... I was within a minute (per Strava) off my fast friend at mile 38... then I entered the Bowie Loop (which he, somehow, avoided).  My endurance'y friend caught me after about 7min of walking.  I walked for another 35min.  On my best days I'm very slow on feet (many many injuries)... so... the sabotaged ending (a sign got pulled and most, but not all, of the first 100 riders did an extra ~2mi'ish deep snow trek at mile 38 of the 40miles course) really hurt. 

But... it was beautiful. My body felt great while riding. Bike performed flawlessly. Great times. Now I just need to clean the wifes chain.
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benmills

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olapiquena
The weather was pretty glorious, wasn't it?

Conditions were pretty perfect.  

Sorry to hear about TRP. That said, they have phenomenal customer service. I highly recommend calling them (not emailing). 

As for me... I had a great but hard day.  My main goals were to (a) set my wife up for a great day on the bike, (b) to catch a fast friend who we figured would blow up and (c) to not get caught by another buddy who is more endurance oriented.  Well... I came close: 

Wife had an absolute blast (shots, hugs, mid-course push-ups for prizes, etc...), finished strong, and had no mechanicals... so... I am thrilled. 

As doe me... I was within a minute (per Strava) off my fast friend at mile 38... then I entered the Bowie Loop (which he, somehow, avoided).  My endurance'y friend caught me after about 7min of walking.  I walked for another 35min.  On my best days I'm very slow on feet (many many injuries)... so... the sabotaged ending (a sign got pulled and most, but not all, of the first 100 riders did an extra ~2mi'ish deep snow trek at mile 38 of the 40miles course). 

But... it was beautiful. My body felt great while riding. Bike performed flawlessly. Great times. Now I just need to clean the wifes chain. 


I was really confused about the email referencing "The Bowie Loop".  I was nowhere near the first 100 riders (finished in just over 4 hours), but I did a fairly long trek in the deep snow around mile 38.  It started with a right hand turn right at the end of the long climb.
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olapiquena

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Reply with quote  #24 
Congrats on the 4hrs! That's pretty darn good for such brutality.

As for the Bowie Loop... Yep... Your final snow trek started with that right off Pinkham Rd onto the Trillium mtb trail and then ended when you took a left onto Dashney Rd and headed back toward the mountain... The 'Bowie Loop' people went straight across Dashney road and then did ~2mi of hiking on xc ski trails. It was pretty soul crushing. Especially when the 'Bowie Loop', planted me right back where I got off course 40min earlier and I got to see people merrily taking that left. That they had put signs back up and had someone directing turns. But... thems' the breaks. And... it certainly made for good stories.
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