First there were tyres. I've been running Racing Ralphs for the last few months. They're light, fast-rolling, and all-round grippy. But they're expensive and fragile in rocky environments. So with one set of them shredded beyond use, it was time to get another set (for racing, duh!) and something for everyday riding. Being a magazine-skeptic and a cheapskate (and stealing the idea from Tim B), I went for Maxxis High Rollers. By picking them up in an actual shop, I was able to get my hands on their zillion different versions and go for 2.35, 60a, wire. Big, cheap, not too sticky.
Now until I read an article in the one good magazine, Dirt, I thought tyre were somewhat simple. Then, I saw a WTB tyre designer saying that their Weirwolf tyres weren't very popular because there's a big gap between the central knobs and the side ones. So as you lean over, you get grip at the vertical, slip in-between, and then more grip when you get leaned all the way over. With my old (lesser) skills, I hated that tyre. High Rollers look kind of similar and ride as he described. They brake and accelerate with gobs of traction in a straight line. They carve amazingly if you give it some. But if you only lean a bit, then they drift. Since I've been working my skills upwards recently, the aggressive carve has come into force and I love it. I jammed my weight down so hard in one corner this weekend that the bike hopped itself out of the exit. The weight shift had given me the grip to snap around the corner and a giggle-inducing jump/acceleration out of it. Fantastic.
On your left, High Rollers. Big aggressive middle bit, big aggressive sides, big gap in between. (the picture must be from a small size, it's more noticable on the real tyre). On your right, Racing Ralphs. Lots of little knobs mean similar traction the whole way round and not much drag.
And finally, there's Maxx Exposure. Named after Exposure Lights (which often seem to have Maxx in the name but aren't as nice as Ay Ups), it's an 85 mile night race along the South Downs way. You get to see the white cliffs of the South Coast at sunset and then the night is yours in a big point-to-point race with fairy-lit, sofa-equipped checkpoints. I haven't done this one in a while, but I'm planning a South Downs Double, so it seems like a fun way to ride the route in the meantime. Ordinarily, you set up your tent at the end, they bus you to the start, and you ride back to the campsite. With my eyes on an upcoming double, I'm going to drop my tent at the end, and drive to the start. I'll ride the race, sleep a bit, then turn round and ride 85 miles back to the car again. Or something like that. It'll be silly fun.