Friday, March 6, 2009

Lance Armstrong shares tubeless sealant removal technique

A few weeks ago I bought a couple pair of ("New To Me!") tires. Two of those tires have old dried-up tubeless sealant on the insides. I posted a question to the OBRA email list looking for a quick-n-easy way of removing the stuff.

A tacky film of tubeless sealant-- likely Stan's

I had hopes of receiving a reply that entailed the use of a squirt of Oxi-Clean and a quick swipe of a ShamWow leaving me with like-new looking tires.

Not so. I got a couple of useful suggestions, but those sounded too much like work.

Undaunted I ran my problem by the email list again. I added in a smidge of sarcasm hoping that this would spur cooperation from my fellow OBRA-listers. This time I received what I assume was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion to invoke the name of the "Lance Armstrong". I thought that I would go one better and seek out the legend's wisdom directly. (Thanks to Rick Johnson, fellow OBRA-ite for the suggestion.)

I appealed to Lance, showing him the above photo of the tacky, elastic membrane.

Lance's unsurprising reaction to the residue of sealant.

After some thought, he came back with this advice: Use your thumbs. (Actually, what he said was "Make your mechanic use his thumbs to get that gross stuff off." I told Lance that I don't have a mechanic, that I was my own mechanic, to which he replied, "I didn't understand a word you just said.") So off I go working working working at rubbing off the cursed rubbery crap with my thumbs. And you know what? It wasn't that hard and it was very effective. No mess. However, this is was my reward for about five minutes of work:

I felt a bit like Brett in Alien when he discovered the xenomorph's molting. Ick.

Nice-- a little stretchy wrinkly bit of junk that looked like something one of those creepy Giger Aliens might leave behind after vigorous dermabrasion at the day-spa. My thumbs were a little crampy, too.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to leave one of my moltings laying around like that. Here, let me take care of that for you."

Anyway, squicky artifacts aside, the technique was relatively quick and easy to do. Well, maybe a little labor-intensive and kinda hard on the thumbs. Well, here's what the tire looked like after about five minutes:

So we've got "after" on the left and "before" on the right.

I showed the results of my work to Lance. He made a show of being pleased with my progress and patted me on the head. He then asked if I thought I would be able to match his power output of 600 watts while removing the rest of the residue. I asked him about Mr. LeMond's persistent questions about doping... to which Lance responded by hurling my Poprad under the wheels of his black and yellow Hummer and driving over it repeatedly until it was unrecognizable.

No comments: