|The fact that your carbon rims are hookless will have zero effect on whether they hold air or not, so don't worry about that. You could use pricey tubeless rim tape, but I'd suggest just picking up a roll of Gorilla Tape from your hardware store. It does the exact same thing, but you can tear it to whatever width you need and it's much less expensive. Many companies sell valve stems, but e*thirteen has some neat aluminum stems that use differently shaped grommets to create a better seal up against your rim, or you can just use some generic tubeless valve stems from your local shop. And as for tires, you're not going to find any 29" tires in the widths you're looking for that are going to be "light" so you should look for something that works well on your terrain.|
There's a pretty good chance that the bike shop that tried to set your wheels up tubeless only failed because the fit between your tires and rims is a bit loose. Stan's rim tape is very thin, but two (or in rare cases, three) wraps around the rim with Gorilla Tape will artificially build up the rim bed height and create a tighter fit that will make it easier to air the tires up when they're installed. Too much tape and the tires become very difficult to get on and off, though. - Mike Levy
|I'd start by focusing on the nipples that need to be turned in order to true the wheel. First, put a few drops of a penetrating lubricant (TriFlow works well) where the spoke enters the nipple. Next, if the nipple truly is too stripped out to accept a spoke wrench, and a flathead screwdriver won't work either, I'd say it's time to resort to a set of vice grip pliers, the type that can be squeezed and locked in the closed position. It's not an elegant solution, and it's guaranteed to destroy the nipple, but this should give you enough grip to force it to turn. In most cases, the threads on the spoke will emerge unscathed, even if the nipple is broken and mangled beyond recognition, at which point you can put a new one on (I'd recommend going with brass over aluminum).|
With any luck, you'll only need to repeat this procedure a few times get your wheel rolling straight and true again, but if you do end up needing to replace a dozen or so nipples, I'd suggest putting on some soothing music and maybe trying a little meditation before diving into that tedious and potentially frustrating task. Or you could bring it into your local bike shop, but be sure to tip your mechanic well if you choose to go that route. - Mike Kazimer
|The Black Forest seems to have a bunch of riding and a strong local scene. For example, Solid Bikes are based in Freudenstadt and use the bike park at Bad Wildbad for testing their downhill rigs, your best bet if you want to get race-ready for Fort William, it's a pretty short track but a brutal rock-fest that even the strongest riders seem to struggle against. A funicular railway out of the town centre gets you to the top, or you can shuttle yourself on the public road. Bad Wildbad used to have a small bike park using a ski drag lift accessing a fun 4x track, but I can't comment on its current condition.|
Driving a couple of hours north to Heidleberg could yield some good results, I have never been there myself but have heard many positives from German riders. Two and a half hours to the west and over the French border is Lac Blanc, a well renowned bike park which is scheduled to open on the 5th May for the summer season. The surrounding Vosges countryside is well known for the Cannondale Enduro Tour and is the area where Remy Absalon and Jerome Clementz cut their teeth.
From my experience, local bike shops are key when visiting a new area. Find a quality shop and they will be sure to help you out with trail advice, invite you on regular shop rides and introduce you to local riders who will know where to find the local gold.
Another essential is the Trailforks mobile app, if you don't have it yet, why not? The app has been huge help for me over the last few months. It's free, you can download the map for specific regions to use offline, it connects with your Strava or similar GPS mapping system and if you're riding on your own there is an 'Emergency Call' feature that will help emergency services locate you if something untoward happens. You can photograph and report trail issues such as fallen trees to whoever runs the local trail club and if you find some trails you really like, you can donate to the affiliated trail builders to say thanks. - Paul Aston
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