I was thrilled when I set my first tyre up tubeless. The arthritis-inducing strain on the thumbs and the gloopy mess was all forgotten on hearing the whip-crack of the tyre bead snapping into the rim and the rewarding silence after spinning and bouncing the wheel a few times.
There weren't many tubeless-specific rims to be had and, it seemed, even fewer tubeless tyres. Tubeless isn't really new - motorcar tyres have been running like that for decades and many of the big car tyre manufacturers have, of course, diversified over the years, becoming market leaders like Continental, Pirelli and Michelin.
To be famed for vehicle tyres and restaurant classification is quite an achievement. Having a globally recognisable mascot, like Bibendum (aka Michelin Man) must have had restaurateurs scratching their heads at the symbolism of a genuinely terrifying anthropomorphised tyre stack endorsing the quality of their food. That name was first introduced in 1894 by the Michelin Brothers and is one of the world's oldest trademarks; with the company dominating the French domestic tyre market it became synonymous with many aspects of life and work on the continent and around the world.
It's not really bounced into the cycling tyre market in the same way despite its history, and Michelin would not be the first brand that came to mind for me, but with the rise in popularity of gravel/adventure riding I wonder what they could offer better than the known and niche brands like WTB, Panaracer and Terravail.
Digging a little deeper, I discovered their new Power Adventure Competition Line tyres would *just* about fit the clearance on my Genesis Skinny Gravel bike if I ran their 700x30c offering.
The Power Adventure gravel tyre is not a well-treaded tyre like those you'd maybe run from autumn to spring, especially through Wealden Clay and chalky bridle paths, but it nonetheless boasts a range of technologies to improve rolling resistance and puncture protection which bodes well for off-road shenanigans.
They also come tubeless ready, which tempted me to address my demons having had a love/hate/really hate relationship with running tubeless on a couple of my road bikes. Let's just say the messy roadside swear-a-thons as I tried to stem the flow of fluid over my clothes, bike and road, leaving me looking like a rather brutal crime scene under UV lights, left their mark.
I didn't have the time or courage to attempt to set the Power Adventures up tubeless right away, so I popped them on with tubes for a blast down to the coast on one of Sustrans better routes, the NCN21. It's not a perfect surface in some areas, so it would hopefully give me an idea of what they'd be like when used in anger, so to speak.
On the road there was no hum to foreshadow any drag and cornering felt assured on some of the faster cycle-path descents, which I was grateful for knowing that they're often strewn with debris from the adjacent roads and burger-box avoidance emperils quite a few of the twists and turns on the A23.
Even pootling through the pot-holed urban assault course that passes for cycling infrastructure in most towns, I didn't feel like I would be making any unplanned dismounts, the relatively small volume of the 30c seeming to punch above its weight in the comfort stakes.
Buoyed by this success I felt like I had to give road/skinny gravel tubeless a try, so equipped with some sealant, a pair of valves and a full crime scene noddy suit, I popped the tubes and poured the gloop in. This is when past demons came to haunt me.
First off, I had somehow acquired a split in the front tyre that started hissing and gushing almost straight away. It looked like a clean cut, and I was surprised that the tube hadn't punctured.
Armed with a tyre plug and a huge feeling of optimism I successfully stemmed the flow and the repair held. I didn't have the satisfaction of the bead and rim cracking like a dawn musket duel, but they stayed up reassuringly with no apparent leakage around the edges.
The next morning, however, it was evident that the air was getting out somewhere so I popped the tyres off and set one bead using an inner tube ending up splattered with more gunk than the lions in Trafalgar Square. This was better, but the tyre plug had become compromised. I wondered if the sealant I was using wasn't up to the job, despite being more than adequate in decorating other parts of the bike.
I'd heard good things about Peaty's Holeshot Biofibre sealant, so I cleaned all of the old sealant I could out of the Fulcrums and placed my trust in the rather lovely and camp-sounding Bio-glitter in their latex-based formula to plug my front tyre gash.
It did very well indeed, eclipsing the effort of the original sauce, but something was still amiss as only a few hours later, the tyres were flatter than the A1011 out of Bury St Edmunds.
Well, "C'est finit" as Mr Bibendum might say: that was that for my latest foray into road tubeless.
Now that all the bio-glitter has been scraped out and saved for another time, I'll just settle for these ace-looking, well-performing tyres carting me around the gravel and bridleways and rely on Mr Blobby's French grandpa to keep me rubber side down until it's time to break out the winter bike.
Michelin Power Adventure Gravel Tyre, £54.99 from www.silverfish-uk.com