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Just grazing the surface.
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otb
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Just grazing the surface. - July 18, 2012, 08:30 PM

I love to ride, but every time I throw a leg over I think about the vast amount of information our brains must process every minute we ride and the minute decisions we make and still get home safely; it literally boggles my mind.

We ride, we learn we see, hear, digest, process and react to millions of bits of info every second. One of the least talked about parts of the street ride is the surface we actually put wheels to. Dirt riders see, judge and adjust to changes in surface minute by minute; on any given offroad excursion, a dirt rider may encounter dry hardpack, wet or damp soft earth, sand, rock, wet rock with green slime, loose shale, gravel, ect, ect. Each has it's own characteristics and each requires techniques to safely negotiate it.

I can't tell you how many fallen riders I've listened to that, when I asked what type of road surface were they on when they fell, looked at me blankly and said "What do you mean?. It was road, ya'know."

This may sound stupid and obvious, but roads are built out of all kinds of different materials, depending on what's availalble and what works cost wise, and the materials have different traction characteristics, depending a number of factors.

Ride around here and most likely you'll be riding on concrete on the freeways and asphalt on secondaries. New surfaces have different characteristics than older, worn ones.

Go out to western Maryland or WV and likely it'll be asphalt, but made with local crushed shale which they have in abundance. It has sharp points, which is great for traction, but is soft, which causes smoothing of the surface in the twin tire patches on each lane over time, which has less traction. Some of the roads there are tinted red from the iron-bearing schist, which has different traction characteristics.

And then we can go on and on about patching and surfacing materials used; from crumbly cold patch products used for filling potholes, to the dreaded oil and cinders that PennDot uses on mountain roads.

Throw in some rain, a little antifreeze boil-over, some leaking tranny fluid, some 10w-40 and the sand blown from the side road, and we get some interesting mixes.

Now take all that, add in a poorly trained road engineer, a road-building crew in a hurry, over budget and behind a deadline and what you get is this:

Interesting, isn't it. Kind of a pretty road, neh?

This little stretch here has had more than it's share of accidents, both bike and car. Any body see why? I walked this stretch, so some of the details aren't as readily visible as I would have liked but as I was riding it, I'll tell you that it gave me the heebie-jeebies.

There is one visual clue that should stand out like a whore in church, and a couple others that will reveal themselves under careful examination.

Let's see what ya'l come up with.

(Hint: The camera was level).


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July 18, 2012, 09:00 PM

not being able to see what's over the hill in the turn. at least for me that's where i'd slow down a bit and take a little bit wider of a turn.


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July 18, 2012, 09:48 PM

I am going with stop sign on other side of hill


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July 18, 2012, 09:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stolli - EFFE View Post
I am going with stop sign on other side of hill
a deadly intersection.


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July 19, 2012, 12:04 AM

Hard left with a stop sign or just a stop sign.
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July 19, 2012, 01:34 AM

strip bar at the top?


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July 19, 2012, 05:54 AM

Everything (except the strip joint) on the other side, and more.

At the crest of the hill going away, the road both tightens up (decreasing radius), and falls away down the 6 or 7% grade on the other side, just as you get to the hidden stop sign. On top of that, if you look carefully, the road surface at the left turn slopes TO THE RIGHT (reverse camber). It's a sort of "perfect storm" of roadbuilding "don'ts".

Hidden stop, reverse camber, hidden decreasing radius and turning fall-away all conspire to wreck two and four wheeled vehicles. In the 10 mins or so while I was walking and taking pics, TWO separate cars came up the hill going away from me and ended up locking up brakes at the crest of the hill. The rest of the road is posted at 45, and it's rural, which means the actual speeds are in the 60 plus range, and there is no other signage warning of an approaching intersection.

To just add a little icing on the cake, it hadn't rained here in weeks, yet , if you'll notice the staining on the road in the center right of the turn near me: that isn't oil, it's a seep from a spring, pushing up through the asphalt, keeping things damp and slowly crumbling the road surface. During fall and spring weather, this patch freezes and catches many a driver/rider unaware.

This next one is pretty subtle and has to do with contours, but all the visual cues are there:


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July 19, 2012, 08:02 AM

Anybody see the little surprise on pic#2?? Anybody?


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July 19, 2012, 08:17 AM

The car coming around the turn?
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July 19, 2012, 08:26 AM

Is there a dip in the middle of the turn? And it looks like it narrows through the turn?


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July 19, 2012, 08:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioli View Post
Is there a dip in the middle of the turn? And it looks like it narrows through the turn?
agreed. the little dip just as you get into the turn.


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July 19, 2012, 09:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioli View Post
Is there a dip in the middle of the turn? And it looks like it narrows through the turn?
Correctamundo!


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July 19, 2012, 10:16 AM

Can't even count how many roads in NOVA are similar to the ones you posted - dips and bumps, asphalt in terrible shape, blind corners, and most of the time cars crossing double yellows. It's a jungle out there.
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July 19, 2012, 11:39 AM

lol, glad to know I wasn't seeing things that weren't there from looking at the pic so hard.


*Not intended to be a factual statement.
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July 19, 2012, 11:51 AM

i can't see the pictures


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