If you've not been here and you're wondering what the terrain is like, think Stromlo, Eagle Park or the You Yangs on a warm afternoon. It's a bit gravelly and loose in parts. If you're thinking Forrest, Awaba or Margaret River, then you might want to re-calibrate a bit and adjust your set up.
You want strong tyres with some good grip. Please don't come here with old, worn out tyres. They just aren't likely to last the distance.
Most of us locals run 2.25-2.35" width front tyres such as Maxxis Crossmarks (Ardent or Icon), Schwalbe Racing Ralphs or Nobby Nics, Mitas, etc. Whichever tyre you use it needs to be the version with strong sidewalls. Nearly all brands have this now. Don't think about risking it with regular side walls. It's just not worth it. And make sure you top up your slime/goo/latex or whatever in your tyres or tubes before you come out!
Tubeless. If you're already running tubeless tyres then the only adjustment would be to use twice as much goo as you normally use. If you're not then have a good think about converting your wheels to tubeless tyres. Your local bike shop will be able to help you out if you don't know how. And there are a heap of good videos on line which will show you how to do it at home.
Tubes. If you're running tubes they'll need to have slime or goo in them. For that matter, your spare tubes will have to have goo in them too. You wont get too far without it. Trust me.
Tubes, pump/infllator and tools are essential. Imogen Smith of MarathonMTB wrote a very nice article of things to bring along. Imogen is smart and has ridden out here heaps. Be smart like Imogen. Heed her advice. ;-)
The main thing is make sure your tubes have slime or goo in them. After riding here for a few km you'll find your tyre has lots of small thorns in it. If you put a regular tube in your tyre it will go flat in a km or so. Believe me. I've done the long walk home more than once because I've been too lazy to top up my tube. And whilst the terrain is really lovely to walk around, it's not that much fun when you want to go for a ride and even less fun when you want to race.
Remember that it can be hot out here. On average the weather should be about perfect. Probably around 15-23°C whilst you're riding. But it could be warmer. And whatever the temperature it's almost certainly going to be a lot dryer than what you're used to. As a general rule, I find I drink 1.5-2 times the amount of water in Alice Springs as I would in Sydney or anywhere else on the east coast. That's about 1 litre per hour. Don't get caught short of water. It really sucks. More than walking home with a flat tyre.
Alice Springs has three good bike shops representing a range of the major bike brands. These are:
- Outback Cycling (in the Todd Mall)
- MyRide (also on North Stuart Hwy)
- The Bicycle Centre (on North Stuart Hwy)
- Smith St Velo (surprisingly on Smith St, didn't see that coming did you?)
All of the shops will be busy and ready to look after you over the weekend. Follow the advice above and don't make them too busy.