i don't watch formula one motor racing. in fact, i don't watch any form of motor racing, mostly because i find it a) tedious, b) over-rated and c) because i'm not particularly interested in motor cars. a bit like football players, i think the guys in formula one are grossly overpaid, and though they take risks not always seen in other sports, it's not like that came as a last minute surprise.
it is a sport that has often defended or justified its existence by claiming immunity from prosecution on the grounds of development potential. engine management systems, the very items that volkswagen have recently found new ways to use, traction control, semi-automatic gearboxes and aerodynamics are all factors in the case for the defense, along with tyre compounds, tread patterns and carcase profiles. i believe it is no longer within the rules to race so-called slick tyres, those with no tread whatsoever. physics would dictate that the more rubber on the tarmac, the better the grip, but no tread at all means ice-skating if it happens to rain during a race, necessitating a whole clump of desperate pit stops.
bicycles probably don't benefit that much from this high-speed development, for even a tyre with no tread whatsoever, is unlikely to aquaplane in the wet. in the majority of cases, we simply don't pedal fast enough. tyre treads ostensibly exist to clear water from under the tyre where it ought to connect with the road, at least that's the case with car tyres. it will not have escaped your attention however, that bicyclists sliding off the road in the rain rarely do so for lack of tread. the pros are pretty much all on tubulars the bulk of which still feature the herringbone treads that have featured for many a long year.
that doesn't mean that tyre development for bicycles has no future. there's always room for improvement.
cyclocross, on the other hand, benefits from any number of varying tread patterns, mostly due to the format of the racing. unlike stage racing or even one-day classics, the practice of recconoitering the course coupled with racing that lasts on average, around sixty minutes, means that it is perfectly possible to identify which type of tyre would best suit the parcours and individual riding style.
though it's hardly hoogerheide or the koppenbergcross, bridgend woods offers several variations in surface texture affected by both tread pattern and tyre pressure, both of which can be further affected by the prevailing weather. the tracks through the woods are used predominantly by walkers and dog-walkers, though the existence of a central grassy portion bordered by grassless tracks would suggest that at times, there are still motor vehicles traversing the network of paths. given the wood's history as the grounds of islay house and the nobility that were once resident, most of the current motor traffic likely consists of range rovers and quad bikes.
on my first visit to portland, oregon, the guys from pdxcross presented me with a copy of their book 'dirty pictures' filled with the cyclocross eccentricity that is peculiar to portland. for that reason and despite its belgian heritage, i will always identify cyclocross with the oregon town, odd though that may be. thus, when clement tyres offer a 'cross tyre named after portland's cross crusade followed by the three letters signifying portland international airport - pdx - i could think of no good reason not to have a pair on the ibis hakkalugi courtesy of the nice folks at 2pure.
clement claim that the tyres have a 'particular love for mud.', however, they underline the tyre's versatility by pointing out that the centre knobs offer a speedy roll on both hardpack and tarmac. at 33mm wide, their versatility is not diluted by the widths currently offered by the growing trend for gravel riding, many of which reach the upper thirties.
living without a motor car, any trips to the woods to play at being jeremy powers or sven nys must first cover the 5km of tarmaced road before mud, grass and rocky roads beckon. at the present the foregoing are frequently disguised by thick carpets of copper coloured leaves running the full width of the paths. aside from being squirmy all of their own, the leaves often conceal hidden pitfalls behind the sofa, just waiting to catch the unwary unawares (that's me, in case you were wondering)
though i seem now to have grasped the mounting/dismounting bit of the equation, such success is often undermined by my often suspect handling skills, particularly over wet leaves. same goes for mud, though the prevalence of the gloopy stuff in the woods at this time of year offers virtually endless opportunities to practice remaining upright. the crusade pdx tyres' propensity for mud-clearing makes them ideal to maintain an almost straight line when riding the thick, grassy middle, featured on pretty much every pathway throughout the woods. hurtling downhill through squirmy mud is mostly ameliorated by the existence of gravity, but turn the tables and ride back up (if i'm honest, this was mostly to avoid irritating a couple of elderly dog-walkers) and their grip even when standing, was particularly impressive.
i'm often guilty of namby pamby cornering when offroad, something that gets worse the older i become. i have no wish to phone the office on a monday morning with the phrase "you'll never guess what happened on saturday morning...". however, after a number of albeit interrupted circuits of the woods, the crusade pdx tyres had instilled sufficient confidence to extend my derring-do above and beyond the call of duty. better still, i didn't fall off.
according to the label on the black sidewall, the recommended pressure range is 45-45psi, one i felt honour bound to adhere to until i was able to adjudge differently. at 45psi they felt not only comfortable, but pretty much devoid of skittishness. however, i couldn't help feeling both they and i would benefit from a tad less air, so midway through my life in the woods, i lowered the pressure to the low thirties.
but don't tell mr clement.
softer tyres, even over the rocky portions, were pretty darned ginger peachy. though everything's relative, i was definitely faster through the corners and the grip in the mud was so much of an eye-opener, that i seriously considered changing my surname to powers by deed poll.
every ride in the woods is inevitably followed by several kilometres across the grass and sheep at uiskentuie on the way to froth supping at deb's in bruichladdich. sheep, aside from being inordinately suicidal, are renowned for following each other, in most cases along meandering tracks in the grass only a few inches wide. the fun part is trying to ride those tracks as fast as possible and simply accepting the occasional unexpected dip along the way. clouting the sides of those tracks is a highly frequent occurence, the dangers of which were considerably lessened by the pdx profile. which is just as well, because uiskentuie's sheep are definitely not house-trained.
all in all, this is the ideal set of 'cross rubber for those who do not have a willing and able pit crew eagerly proffering a spare bike with alternative rubber when the nature of the course alters from beginning to end. wet grass, wet leaves, mud, gravel, rocks and hardpack are all treated with insouciant disdain by clement's pdx rubber. and if your abilities are on a par with mine, just hang on and enjoy the ride.
saturday 7 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................