Hang around me long enough and you'll learn that I'm a repeater of my own cliches. This year's model is that we'd like November to be better at doing a bunch of things than Mike and I are capable of doing those things. If one or the other of us doesn't have the time or capability to do something that's got to get done well enough, the thing's still got to get done well enough, so we have to find a way to get it done. Sometimes this is hard, sometimes you get lucky.
For several years, we've thought that tubeless cross tires would inevitably get good. After a few abortive attempts to meaningfully test things, I used tubeless exclusively last season. It took some rooting through to get to where I got, but during the course of the season, I could definitively say that tubeless worked better than tubed. "It's better than pretty terrible! Alert the media!!" But with the right tires, I could run meaningfully lower pressures tubeless than I could tubed, with more or less zero chance of burping and a much reduced chance of flatting. That's progress. Not enough to say "time for everyone to ditch tubulars!" but progress nonetheless.
The problem is, I kind of suck at cross. I've got zero fast twitch fibers, and though I'm quite competent at handling a road bike, I'm not that skilled on a cx bike. Testing I do in cx tire setups has value, but it also has a lot of limitations. But as I said, sometimes you get lucky.
Through mutual acquaintances, we got in touch with Michael Wissell, who agreed to do some testing with us. I say again - lucky. Unlike either Mike or me, Michael is shoe-in to make the lead lap of a 1/2/3 race, and often enough is the first guy on said lead lap. He's got crazy bike handling skills, plus an orderly and methodical approach as well as an engineering mindset. Where you really shouldn't listen to me if you fancy yourself to be something of a stylish cross racer, you really should listen to Michael.
Perhaps best of all, he was an avowed tubeless skeptic when this all started. There's no getting around the fact that I, to one degree or another, wanted it to work. His inclination was more in line with proving that it didn't, but his job in this is not to prove one or the other - just to test as completely and as objectively as possible.
We set up a very good system for setting up, testing, and comparing notes. I patsied around with tires while Michael beat the living bejeesus out of tires and we've gotten a bunch of great info. A lot of tires just plain don't work, but some really really do. There have been a ton of cross course hot laps, and also a bunch of "let's just wantonly abuse these things and see what happens." Yesterday's update from the former die-hard skeptic: