Bike & Tyre Preparation
Alice Springs has unique terrain. We have some sharp rocks, we have some areas of thorns. To get the best out of your riding, here are some tips the locals have found will keep you in good stead. Of course, we recommend you get your bike serviced before you get here, so you know everything is in tip top shape.
If you have never made the pilgrimage to Alice, 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. Ensure you top up your Stans/slime/goo/latex or whatever is in your tyres or tubes before you come out!
If you're already running tubeless tyres then the only adjustment would be to use twice as much sealant as you normally use. If you're not running tubeless, then have a good think about doing the conversion. There are a heap of good videos online which will show you how to do it at home.
If you're running tubes they'll need to have slime in them. For that matter, your spare tubes will have to have slime in them too. You wont get too far without it.
Tubes, pump/inflator 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 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. It is up to you if you want to use thorn resistant tubes too. They are slightly weightier, but the extra kilogram may be worth the payoff of not getting a flat.
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. Whatever the temperature, it's almost certainly going to be a lot dryer than what you're used to. As a general rule, remember to carry 1 litre of water per hour while riding. Don't get caught short of water. It really sucks. More than walking home with a flat tyre.
It’s always wise to bring some sort of nutrition with you out here. A banana, energy drops, an energy bar, hydration powder etc are all fine choices. Remember, staying hydrated is particularly important during exercise because you lose water through sweat. In addition to water, your body loses electrolytes when it sweats. Chloride, potassium, and sodium are major electrolytes, which are minerals in your blood, urine, and bodily fluids that contain an electric charge. Not replenishing these minerals can lead to heat exhaustion and surprise even the most experienced riders.
Visit Outback Cycling for any prep questions or servicing you may need before or during the race.