How I am improved my Lotoja race time by almost 30 minutes using Tannus airless tires.

 

Training on Tannus Tires

 I have been into biking my whole life, I started out mountain biking and did my first mountain bike race when I was 15.  When I was 25 I got into road biking and instantly fell in love.  I love biking so much that I opened a bike store where we sell all types of bikes, from road bikes to mountain bikes, kids bikes and commuter bikes.  Cycling is a big part of my life, I usually ride 5 times a week.   

As much as I love biking I am cursed with getting flats, it doesn't matter if it's  a race or during a training ride for whatever reason I just get a lot of flats.  Being a bike store owner it's not like I don't know how to pump up a tire correctly, or change a flat.  I have change so many flat tubes for myself and customers I couldn't even begin to guess.  I've also tried about every flat resistant system on the market and while they help none of them are perfect. 

Perhaps it's because I am a big guy, I am 6’4 and 190 pounds, but the kind of luck I have is crazy bad. Just ask my riding buddies; they’ll all tell you.  In Utah where our shop is, we have problems with puncture weeds or goat heads.  A small weed that wreaks havoc on tires, when they dry out.  Late summer and fall time it's absolutely amazing how many people come in for a tube, at least 30 people a day.  

In 2015 my business partner and I figured we had to do something, because surely there had to be a better way. We spent almost 2 years researching different puncture resistant systems.  This included making a couple trips to Asia where most bike products come from, looking at flat proof systems.  If there is a flat proof bike tire system out there I've ridden it and can tell you about it's good points and bad points.  There are some ok systems out there and there are some really bad systems but for a road cyclist the best system is Tannus Tires.

Tannus airless tires are the best flat proof system on the market. In fact, we love them so much we became the distributor for the US.  I know I am slightly biased because now we sell them, but my results speak for themselves.

In 2017 after we had found Tannus and started selling them I wanted to put them to the test and see if they could help me with my training.  I have been doing a bike race every year for the last 7 years called Lotoja.  It is a 204 mile bike race that goes from Logan Utah to Jackson Hole Wyoming the second weekend of September.  It is the longest sanctioned road race in the US and one of the hardest.  I love it because the course is beautiful, the event organizers do a great job and it forces me to train hard all summer long.  In 2014 I got my then best time of 9 hours and 45 minutes, in 2016 I came close to beating it at 9 hours and 46 minutes.  

Now while I own a bike shop and love cycling, that doesn't mean I bike all the time.  I do have a family, while my wife is extremely patient she has her limits.  If you were to look at my Strava I usually ride 25 to 30 hours a month.  The most I have ever ridden in a month is 60 hours and my wife told me if I ever road that much again I'd be in big trouble.  So there wasn't an option to dedicate more time to training, I had to train differently.  I have tried several training plans in the past, I have done diets and while it all helps the best I could do at Lotoja was a time of 9 hours and 45 minutes.  So for my 2017 season I decided I would do all my training on Tannus airless tires.  

Tannus airless tires have a higher rolling resistance than normal tires; anywhere from 3% to 5% depending on the tire and rider weight.  While most people can't feel the difference, a cyclists who has put thousands of miles on a bike can definitely feel the added rolling resistance.   So Tannus tires aren't race tires, but my theory was that if I trained on them with their higher rolling resistance and switched to my favorite race tire right before a bike race that the added resistance would make me stronger.  A similar concept to how baseball players put weights on their bats, or runners or high jumpers putting weights on their ankles while they train.  Getting used to Tannus and switching to a pneumatic race tire right before a race had to make a difference and I decided I would test it.  

For the 2017 race season I decided I was going to do 100% of my training on Tannus tires and switch to a pneumatic tire for race day.  Limited by time I was not able to train longer I still road thousands of miles during the season but I really didn't really change much on my training time.  I pretty much trained the same as I always do; the only thing I changed was that 100% of my rides were on Tannus. 

My first big road event using my Tannus training method was the Desperado Duel in Southern Utah. This is a 150-mile road bike event that has about 6000 feet of climbing and is in some of the most beautiful scenery you can find.  This was the first time I had done this event and heard it was a great event.  I was able to keep up with the lead group for the first 100 miles and then when the last big climb came a grueling 25 mile 5000 feet climb I was able to leave the pack and I ended up getting 2nd place overall.  I was super excited and very surprised considering I'd never finished on the podium.  

Desperado Duel is about 6 weeks before Lotoja, impressed with the results I decided I would keep training on my Tannus airless tires.  So keeping my same training routine as I had done for the past couple years I just did it all on Tannus tires.  After awhile you really get used to Tannus and forget about the added rolling resistance.  Sure there were a couple group rides I went on where I was pushing myself to keep up, overall I just forgot Tannus was there.  That is until race day.  

The morning of Lotoja was great, good energy from the other racers, weather was perfect and the whole race I felt great.  I was able to climb the mountain passes at the front of the pack and still keep my heart rate low.  I road the first 100 miles with the peloton but I felt as if they were going too slow.  So after about 100 miles of riding so I broke away hoping others would follow me, but no one did so I was in the front solo.  I knew I probably couldn’t ride the next 100 miles solo without the peloton catching me so I didn’t push too hard, I kept my power and heart rate at a moderate pace.  However even at the moderate pace it still took the group 50 miles to catch me.  Once the group caught me I still felt great, my legs were doing great my heart rate was still low.  I had the podium in my sights, but then it happened, you guessed it I got a flat.  The IRONY.  As I started fixing my flat and went to use my CO2 pump it broke!  I then had to wait 10 minutes for my support vehicle to come find me and get me another pump.  I lost about 15 minutes dealing with the flat and by then the peloton was long.  I pushed as hard as I could the last 55 miles of the race but never caught back up with the lead group.  I did catch up with some other riders in my group and I still managed to get 8th place overall and I came in at 9 hours and 18 minutes a full 28 minutes faster than my previous best time.      

You always play the "what if" game after such a close call.  Who knows how I would have done, I felt as if I could have made the podium but you never know how the other riders were feeling.  After Lotoja I did some several shorter distance races and also saw improvements there.  My training for 2017 has proven to me that Tannus is a wonderful way to train.  Not only does it eliminate flats but it will make you faster.  Internationally Tannus is being used by other cyclists and triathletes as well to train and they love it because they can do all their interval workouts and not have to worry about flats. 

After what I call the initial break in of the tires, which is about 40 to 50 miles, you really forget that they are different and they become normal.  You really don’t feel any different until race day when you go back to your race tires.  I know I am slightly biased but I love Tannus airless tires for training and commuting they just make so much sense and are absolutely hassle free. I dont' carry a saddle bag when I ride, I don't have to pump up my tires every morning, I just get on my bike and ride.  


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