fitting tubeless (singletrack guide)

So to start with I thought I’d go through how to fit a tubeless system; I’ve not spent a lot of time setting these up so bear with me on this one.

A lovely set of Pacenti wheels and tyres caught Chipps’ eye for the Nukeproof Mega TR he’s currently testing . Challenge accepted, I have fitted tubeless systems before but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed doing them, however watching a tear drip from Chipps’ eye was not an option.

Tools for the job ahead

Things you will need to carry out the task in hand:

Electrical Tape
Tubeless Rim Tape
Tubeless Valve
Tyre Sealant
Sharp Pick

Step One

It's all in the thumbs

Use your electrical tape to make a layer of rim tape, making sure all the nipple holes are covered. After the whole rim is covered by one layer of tape, run your thumb along the rim applying a light amount of pressure to push the tape properly onto the rim. Find where the valve hole should be and using your sharp pick push a hole in the tape through the hole in the rim.

It's only a small prick

Step Two

It's tubeless tape Jim, but not as we know it

Now you can apply your tubeless rim tape, following the same process as the electrical tape, make one consistent layer all around the rim making sure it is central in the rim well and covering the electrical tape.

Whilst applying the tape you will need to do an inch of tape at a time and apply constant pressure when pushing the tape down. If you don’t do this the tape can get little air pockets underneath and not sit straight in the rim.

And another one

After applying a full layer of tape once again, using your sharp pick punch a hole through the tape and the valve hole. If the hole needs to be bigger you can get a larger pick and make the hole in the tape bigger or if you’re extra careful use a small file to take away any unneeded tape.

Step Three

Valve is go

Your taped up rim is now ready for the valve. Unscrew the cap and the compression ring, insert the valve into the rim through the tape ( if the valve can sit flush on the tape without any pressure the hole is too big), using the compression ring tighten the valve down into the rim until it is sat nicely on the tape.

Step Four

Tyre on

You can now fit your tyre. Place one side of the bead onto the rim, place the recommended amount of tyre sealant into the bottom of your tyre, then fit the other side of the tyre onto the rim.

Magic milk

You are now ready to pump up your tyre, this step requires either the use of an air compressor from your local garage or bike shop, or what I used which was a 18g CO2 canister. Place the canisters adapter onto the valve making sure it is secure. Now without holding onto the valve or the canister (the canister gets extremely cold) release a burst of gas into the tyre, which should inflate quick enough to form a seal.

Once the tyre is seated and up to your chosen pressure jiggle the wheel around in your hands whilst also rotating it, this will allow the sealant to cover the whole inside of the tyre.

Pump and go

You are now ready to go out and ride, its as simple as peas.

Thank you very much for tuning in to the first job of Dan’s Tech Centre. I hope this is useful and it helps you when fitting your tubeless system.

If there are any jobs you want help with or any suggestions for the next tech tutorial please comment below and I shall try help you out the best I can.

Strathpuffer 2013 – the 24hr race I failed at


It is always down to preparation. Rarely will you do well at  a race unless you are fully prepared.

For the Strathpuffer my intentions had been good but then some things came up that messed with my plans a bit.

1. I started work on a documentary series on Syria that saw me filming away from home. Istanbul life was hectic enough and although I tried to hit the gym – those horrible gym bikes never feel like real training.

2. I came back to do one last long ride – before my taper – but whether it was the 2 degree weather, my pathetic wet gloves and freezing feet. The bugs i probably breathed in flying in the day before … but I got man flu sick. I spent Tuesday,Wednesday and thursday going to bed at 8pm and trying to sleep it out and get healthy.

3. I had the equipment sorted. Great bike lights, new cleats on my winter boots, toasty Sealskin mtb gloves and spare discs for the bike.

I spent Friday driving up past Inverness to the race location at Strathpeffer. I was swigging calpol and cough medicine and downing cold and flu tablets and treating myself to throat lozenges …. I wasn’t pretty. But then out the front of the window the view was a tad scary.

drive up1

Got there and saw the accommodation for the night …. we were hardly roughing it.

how we slummed it

Race day rolled around and Dr Heart was going first – I had cycled 50m up the road from the camper to realise the whole fire road was iced. So after the bunch went past i started to put on the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro’s

ice spiker

I didn’t get them both on in time for my turn to lap – the tubeless was not going to work so Heart did a second lap and in the confusion so did I sans dibber …. Dr Heart said a few cross words (naughty C and F words) and headed out on the 3rd lap. The Ice Spikers were amazing I couldn’t stand on the trail but i could cycle it which I find quite mind-blowing.


switchback single track climbs in the middle
switchback single track climbs in the middle
tom rocks
Dr Heart on the rock single track

The course was great – fireroad climb technical rock section singletrack across the top then a sweet descent back to the start – all just 10km long

the sweep
me on that easy fast descent

… our camper was halfway up the fireroad so the laps on strava always include our off lap.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 11.33.42

Robbie and Huw were another team of pairs and they sped off on their laps – after a few laps they were running 4th and we were 15th …. out of 50 pair teams. Huw was bashing out laps of 37min within a few seconds of that (and all night stayed in the 45-47 mark) and Robbie was steady at 42min (which he did for the whole race) Da Automaton

My breathing was sketchy post cold and I had my HRM beep me if it went over 145bpm  so my laps were a slow 45min – 52min. After 6 laps i had to ask Tom to do a double as my coughing now had an iron after taste. Huw and Robbie were now tying for 2nd and we were up to 7th although 1.5 laps behind. Dr Heart, Huw and Robbie were also all on 29er’s which got me thinking …. (but for another post)

But after my 8th lap I said I couldn’t do anymore (well I couldn’t afford to get sick all week). My legs felt great and if it wasn’t for my cough I am sure I would have lasted. Dr Heart pulled on some more impressive distance but then got shut eye for 5.5 hours. When we were both up again Huw and Robbie were winning by 10min and we were back in 15th although Thom did a last lap flyer and he clawed us up to a 14th.

The winners won their prizes … then it was a 4hr drive home …. YAWN

huw and robbie won

There is a Strathpuffer LITE (in SUMMER) …. Mmmmmmm maybe

And YES of course there were FAT BIKES there


Laggan Wolftrax – review and training


The plan was hatched we were going to practice.

Dr Heart as he is now known is my partner in the upcoming race the Strathpuffer 24 (aka stupidfest). the plan was made to go up to Laggan and ride the Wolftrax route that is supposed to be a good guide on what we are do to encounter in the Strathpuffer. I was fired up and changed the oil in the rohloff Speedhub on Friday and loaded my bike ready to go along with lights changes of clothes as well as sleeping and bivvy bag as i wasn’t sure whether we would be spending a night in a hostel or bothy or even a car.

Here is a description:

The red route is a fantastic 15km experience in two sections – but watch out for Wolftrax’s predatory instincts! For the inexperienced it is technical and challenging; for the experienced, it strikes a good balance between being rideable and interesting.

The upper red route uses the existing black-graded singletrack climb and exit. With a fast descent and a choice of ‘opt in’ features, you’ll find the views that open up quite stunning.
Much of the lower red trail is narrow black shale with embedded rock obstacles, drop-offs, rock causeways, boardwalk and lots of tough little technical climbs.

Look out for features such as Air’s Rock, a challenging slab reminiscent of ‘The Slab’ at Dalbeattie, and the natural rock features of the Bhadain Boulder Field.

After Fang Corner, you can pause for breath at the Blue View and watch your fellow riders try to tame the Bike Park. The trail doubles back, bringing you into the Wolf Run: 300m of bermy timber boardwalk, twisting tightly through the trees and depositing you in the Bike Park.

Hurtle through for a short but immensely enjoyable blast back to the car park – and, more to the point, the tantalising cakes on offer in the café.

Well the weather was not on our side ….
Picture 6
well unless the weather was also training for the worst case scenario …. it was dreich as they say up in these parts.
We started with one lap in daylight – the next at dusk and the last with lights on in what was complete darkness. I was using a Lezyne Superdrive XL on the bars – it has tidy design features, but it’s ultimately short of lighting punch out on the trail. the output is claimed to be 500-lumen but it didn’t seem even twice as bright as my helmet mounted wee 100 lumen torch – I think a second 400lumen (true) torch on the helmet is needed for the race ……

Picture 4

The ride on the last lap was tiring – I was cold, hungry and the weather hit me hard – horizontal rain ruined visibility and wind even blew me off the stone trail at one point. So finished with scraped leg and ego deflated. Laggan was frozen up to last week and I must admit it is a technical red. Unlike Glentress which has great flowing sections and is brilliant on a hardtail – i think Laggan rewards the dual sus rider more. On my first loop I went onto the wooden rails thinking that although soaking and slightly slimy they would be wire meshed like glentress – WRONG – front went away on first turn and slam I went off to hug a tree at the side. Even if I had spiked tyres on i don’t think you could ride this. Judging by marks on the ground where I fell and footmarks back up to alternative route my mistake is a common one …..

That night found a great hostel in the village 7 miles away had a great hot shower then hit the hotel bar for food and 4 lovely pints of Spitfire Sledgehammer. Next morning it was back to the trail for one final loop in daylight (and to remind ourselves that it wasnt too crap) then back to the ladies and kids. This time was quicker even with tired legs – had two dabs on red upper route but went clean through the lower red which was pleasing.

Picture 5
Judging by the signs on the cafe – this is now shut so bring your food and drink with you … and remember to pay your £3 parking fee which pays for the trails ……


A sunday MTB ride on old trails and noticing changes

Since moving 3 years ago across the city I have only managed to head west and go on my old trails a handful of time and i think that in the last year i havent done one ride on my old regular. This morning i headed off early and headed along the canals then up the kelvin river walkway and then on road to Milngavie. The West Highland Way is a famous walking trail in the west of Scotland (here comes a description)

The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngaviepasses through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossingRannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmorand Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square inFort William. 

The terrain ranges from lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills, to high mountainousregions in the Scottish Highlands. These environments provide habitats for a diverse range ofwildlife species, both flora and fauna 


Like is says my start is Mugdock where there are many trails cutting across the park – what i noticed this ride is how wet all the trails were despite the fact that there has been little rain these past 2 weeks … it goes to show more how wet the summer has been. None of the streams have the typical low summer flow and the trails still have water running across them that is slowly draining out of the hills. Needless to say i was soon caked in mud.

There is nice rock and roots section quite early on to get your singletrack technical head in gear … then a haul along to Carbeth Loch then through a gate and a steep technical climb (Rosies Gate to treeline)  – I seem to remember there was always a risk of spinning out in the past and the effort to get up without falling off was always a challenge but today i had no issues and Strava said i had a PR but i know there are about 100 tracks from the past that i haven’t uploaded so i am sure i have done it better in the past …

elevation profile – nothing too steep or scary

After Rosies there is now a more level graded road as the forestry workers are in cutting down some sections of the forest … as i was hammering along I glanced a new trail heading off to the right so went for an explore. Someone has been trailbuilding as there are sections of wooden ladderwork over some muddy sections but not all the mud is covered as i discovered when coming off the trail and sinking the front 29er wheel nearly up to the hub in the mud. The sections under the trees were completely muddy and the Racing Ralph on the rear was soon a mud didc happily spinning and sliding and occasionally biting into the trail … I think it may be time to get some better traction all round tyres (this is Scotland after all)

some better roads to help lose some of my tyre mud collection

Back home and a quick shower for the bike and then for me …. now time to start cooking the roast Sunday Lamb (organic Shetland Lamb as well YUMMMM)

Forgotten love: quick jolly on my mtb

It must be an age thing but I quickly forget just how good mtb’ing is – the last 6 months I have been spending more and more time on the titanium lynskey road bike and I forgot all about my other Ti bride – the beast that is my rolloff geared titanium carver 96’er.

Friday morning and I had time – well a 2 hr slot before picking my youngest up from school. I am supposed to be tapering (ie no exercise) for the half marathon on Sunday so it was never going to be too hectic. I bombed down the canals close to the house and headed to a small wood on a large house estate where there were wee climbs as well as a few singletrack sections. I haven’t been in this wood for probably 2 years and these last 2 winters have seen some big storms.

The woods had seen some carnage – some steps that I use to ride down were blocked by the biggest oak tree destroyed in the storms.

steps blocked by downed tree

There some nice additions a felled tree arching across the trail –

fallen tree arch

some new singletrack sections – and on coming home STRAVA says I weaved through the chicanes at a record pace king of the mountain for a day or two…..

King Of The Mountain (for at least a day)