With today's cyclocross world championships now completed, many pro riders will hang it up for the season. For you amateurs, your local series is winding down too. Regardless of your skill level, it's important to take care of your equipment during the off-season, especially your tires.
Don't just throw your muddy, wet, and dirty wheels in the garage! If you do, you might not like what you find next Fall when the season starts up again. A little TLC and prep now will keep your race wheels in good shape:
- Make sure tires and wheels are clean and dry before you store them. If you leave wet tires in damp wheel bags in a dark corner of the basement, mold, mildew, or dry rot can take hold, damaging your expensive tires. Clean, wipe dry, and then get them out for some sunshine before putting them away to ensure they are completely dry.
- If you are running a tubeless tire with sealant, you don't want the sealant to pool in one spot. If you don't plan to ride a tubeless wheel for a while (which would distribute the sealant throughout the tire when it spins) you might want to remove the tire, wipe out the sealant with a rag, and then store the tire separately. Mount it up with new sealant when you're ready to ride it again.
- Keeping your wheels in wheel bags is an easy way to protect them from abrasion and sunlight.
- If you've applied a tire sealant inside a tubular tire, you can try to remove it by removing the presta valve core and then squeezing it out through the valve. If you can't get the sealant out, as with tubeless, make sure to give them a spin periodically so the sealant doesn't pool in one place.
- Most tubular tires have latex inner tubes stitched inside. We want to avoid having that tube stick to itself in the off season. Avoid this by periodically topping off tire pressure - you only need 10-20 PSI to help the tire and tube keep a round shape. This is also a good reason to hang wheels, rather than allowing them to sit on the floor. If you forget to inflate, the tire won't become folded.
- If you have un-glued tubulars, store them inflated on a rim, not folded up, to avoid creases.
- Store everything in a cool, dark, dry place, and away from things like furnaces and hot water heaters.