Pic: Dave Haygarth
More racing action from Alan Dorrington, including in-race tread testing…
“I noticed last weekend, racing the slightly sinister named Stadt Moers round of the NW Cyclocross Association, that sometimes racing ‘cross feels like an elongated session of joining the dots. By that I mean that some courses have specific points that require concentration and commitment at a technical level, separated with sections of much more straightforward (if considerable) effort such that you seek out the next ‘dot’ and progress round the course in that manner.
Not some creation of a former Eastern European regime, but an innocuous Country Park near St Helens, Stadt Moers is usually gratifyingly muddy for its late Autumn slot on the calendar, and one of my favourite events as a consequence. The muddy sections provided the dots, with the 3 tarmac sections and couple of paths in between providing relief technically, though not physically. It made for fast big-ring racing, rather than a slow grind round, and despite my love of all things boggy, was hugely enjoyable as a result.
Pic: Chris Meads
What the mud lacked in depth, it made up for in stickiness. The need to change bikes (as one of the lucky ‘two-bikers’ there) also gave the opportunity to test head-to-head some FMB SuperMuds with the new kid on the block from FMB, the Slalom. Whilst recce laps were completed on Slaloms, I started on SuperMuds for extra security in some of the sweeping, muddy corners and maximum traction up one tricky little riding climb. Run at super low pressures they were bottoming out on a couple of stony paths and the odd root and felt grippy at all times. When offered a bike change from teammate Dave H who wasn’t racing, I fully expected to find the Slaloms a bit more of a handful in the mud.
It was, mostly the exact opposite. The Slaloms (even at slightly higher pressures) felt faster in all but a couple of sections where even if grip was slightly less than with the SuperMuds, it was still more than adequate and didn’t hamper my progress at all. In fast, flat but slippy sections they felt more planted than the SuperMuds and when hitting the paths and the tarmac they felt appreciably smoother and faster. All of which comfirms my feeling that Slaloms are the go-to tread choice for all general mud conditions, only needing to be swapped out for SuperMuds when conditions turn really wet, sloppy and off-camber laden.”