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Road surfaces in the US

Old 07-30-11, 02:08 PM
  #1  
Drumnagorrach
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Road surfaces in the US

Whilst out riding this morning ,here in Scotland,and not enjoying the enegy sapping vibration caused by the course granit chipping that the local authorities insist in coating our roads , I wondered what sort of surface is prevalant in the US.
Now the roads don't start off so rough,they start of very smooth tarmac,and those roads are a joy to ride upon,but after a few years along come the council "numpties "who spray molten tar on the lovely smooth surface,then spread course chippings,most of which don't stick but are flicked up by passing cars to break the windscreens of cars coming the other way.The resulting surface ,when it eventually loses it's loose chippings ,just saps the energy right out of you as your forward force is converted to up and down vibration as your wheels bounce over these random spaced 3/8 chippings.
So fellow cyclists in the USA, do you suffer the summer tar and chipping extravagansa,as we here do?
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Old 07-30-11, 02:11 PM
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Depends on the road, really. Some are nice, some are bumpy. But they're decent for the most part. Here in FL.
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Old 07-30-11, 02:36 PM
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plenty of chip seal here.
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Old 07-30-11, 02:49 PM
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Lots of chip seal covered roads in my area as well, but I'm not bothered by tar much.
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Old 07-30-11, 04:07 PM
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Where I live it's chip and seal on most county roads and smooth pavement on the others and on the state highways. In the next county over, which is more rural thus has less tax base, add some gravel roads into the mix. Personally I prefer a bit of vibration from chip & seal over roads with infernal "thump thump" expansion joints every 100 feet.
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Old 07-30-11, 04:11 PM
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I have often wanted to take the person that decides to chip seal a road and tar and chip (sort of like the old tad and feather) them. It is horrible to bicycle on that stuff the loose gravel lasts for months on the shoulder if not cleaned up. Plus is chips the heck out of the paint on your car.
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Old 07-30-11, 04:33 PM
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chip seal
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Old 07-30-11, 06:05 PM
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Different roads are under different jurisdictions and get different levels of maintenance and types of treatment. One county may have decent roads and the adjacent county's roads can be abominable. Same holds for roads under the jurisdiction of states, and municipalities. Basically, here in MA, they mostly really suck.
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Old 07-30-11, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Drumnagorrach View Post
So fellow cyclists in the USA, do you suffer the summer tar and chipping extravagansa,as we here do?
Yes, this is what we in the U.S. call "chipseal". This is a layer of gravel or chips (like yours) held together with tar or asphalt (aka bitumen). Depending on the budget set forth for paving, this can vary from mediocre to masochistic.
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Old 07-30-11, 06:37 PM
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We have everything...

In one area I have ridden we had everything from brand new smooth concrete and asphalt all the way down to washboard and mud. Depends on the road and the locale. In my local area most of the "main" roads are decent asphalt, get a mile away and they are substandard chip seal with patches. I don't think we have any public gravel roads left in this county anymore.

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Old 07-30-11, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Yes, this is what we in the U.S. call "chipseal". This is a layer of gravel or chips (like yours) held together with tar or asphalt (aka bitumen). Depending on the budget set forth for paving, this can vary from mediocre to masochistic.
In many parts of the midwest they use oil instead of bitumen. Probably to save money. It's nasty stuff to ride on when fresh. I always stay off those roads for a few weeks after they do them.
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Old 07-31-11, 03:01 AM
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I'm getting the picture, Much the same as here eh ?
How about the melting point of the tar, if the temp ever gets above 75F (rarely ) it all starts to melt.
Now I spend a couple of weeks ,most years with family in Spain, it's normally 80/90 deg f there in summer,guess what, the roads don't melt, I'll bet they don't melt with you in the US.
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Old 07-31-11, 03:28 AM
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I've been on some melted roads in the US. Doesn't affect bike riding all that much. Sometimes buses make severe depressions in the road surface at stops.

Stopgap resurfacing can be a *****. Around here I ride on slurry seal which ain't bad, to chip seal with reasonably sized aggregate which ain't bad after a couple of months to chip seal with mondo 1" aggregate which never gets good except in the tire tracks of the road.

The worst part is that my county chipseals even the bike lane or shoulder even though that part of the road sees little wear. The county could probably save thousands of dollars by not chip sealing the bike lanes and shoulders.
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Old 07-31-11, 03:54 AM
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They have just redone some of my local roads like that. I hate the stuff.

What is really annoying is that for some reason they do the odd stretch of road with smooth, beautifully rolled tarmac and you can really feel the difference. In terms of effort, I think it is worth at least 1 tooth at the back, sometimes 2 (i.e. a 1 or 2 tooth higher gear feels like the same level of effort at a given cadence). It is as though they want to remind us of what we are missing! It's not just the extra rolling resistance, loose chippings, and vibration though - the road noise from motor traffic is that much higher too.

What is even more annoying is when they don't repair the road properly before resurfacing it. I found lots of places where the old potholes, cracks and ridges were still there under a fresh coating.
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Old 07-31-11, 10:10 AM
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I have seen all sorts of roads in the US. In South Georgia, there is a section of pavement where the asphalt was mixed with about 8 cm pieces of granite. They are rather roof shaped and protrude from the roof surface about a cm. It is one of the roughest roads to cycle on that I have ever seen. It is hard to exceed 18 mph because of the vibration.

A friend of mine had an anecdote about doing a steep descent at 55 mph+ and rounding a swooping corner only to come up on 4" of pea gravel put down for fresh chip seal.

I have seen roads where there are potholes that have patches ontop of patches. I think I saw one that was 5 layers thick. It looked a bit like a step pyramid.

Fortunately, not all of the US roads are that bad. But we do have some pretty bad paved roads and they are not hard to find.
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Old 07-31-11, 10:18 AM
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There is an event called ROAM going on right now. 47 velomobiles are riding coast-to-coast. On the very first day in separate incidents, 3 of them lost control of the rear wheel on rumblestrips and rolled. At least one rolled all the way over onto it's top.

Appearantly, the rear wheel loses traction while it's bouncing over the rumblestrip and sometimes skids to one side. As soon as it's off of the rumble strip it regains traction but the sideways momentum of the velomobile causes it to roll onto it's side.
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Old 07-31-11, 11:03 AM
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Louisiana has some of the worst (if not THE worst) roads in the country. Ironically, we also have the highest (or close to it) automotive insurance rates in the country. You'd think that somebody would notice a connection. Long story short, bad roads. Very bad roads for the most part. But it's amazing what you get used to.
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Old 07-31-11, 11:10 AM
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Luckily for me, there's not much of tar and chipping where I live. The roads they decide to maintain are great to ride on. The ones they decide to let go are horrible.
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Old 07-31-11, 11:11 AM
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there are Cold patched potholes ,where the traffic is too heavy to shut it down,
If the town goes to sleep and rolls up the sidewalks at night , full repaves are possible..

Best pavements I've ridden over were in like Belgium, near Spa,
and another one in Northern Ireland , because it was public roads,
closed occasionally, for Motor Racing.

NW Pacific coast is not hot enough to bubble the tar ,
Y'all have to move inland for that .

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Old 07-31-11, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
There is an event called ROAM going on right now. 47 velomobiles are riding coast-to-coast. On the very first day in separate incidents, 3 of them lost control of the rear wheel on rumblestrips and rolled. At least one rolled all the way over onto it's top.

Appearantly, the rear wheel loses traction while it's bouncing over the rumblestrip and sometimes skids to one side. As soon as it's off of the rumble strip it regains traction but the sideways momentum of the velomobile causes it to roll onto it's side.
Yikes I can imagine hitting a rumble strip on a bike you can't unweight at all would be highly unpleasant.
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Old 07-31-11, 01:52 PM
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I noticed a lot of chipseal "pavement" in Montana and Washington. Some of it wasn't bad, some of it was.

Missouri and the first 20 miles in eastern Colorado had horrible expansion joints.

Eastern Kentucky had, on average, some of the best pavement around. Something to do with getting there the summer after a major election campaign, I think. Nice, smooth asphalt on most of the roads we took. Naturally, I found the edge of that nice, smooth asphalt coat and went down!
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Old 07-31-11, 02:51 PM
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We get some major tar bubbling action here. It seems like the aggregate eventually sinks on the chip-seal roads over time and you end up with sections of just tar. Fine in cold weather but it's in the mid 90's now and it's like riding in molasses.

Of course, I'll take a day riding in 95F on bubbly tar over a day at work in the A/C!
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Old 07-31-11, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I've been on some melted roads in the US. Doesn't affect bike riding all that much. Sometimes buses make severe depressions in the road surface at stops.

Stopgap resurfacing can be a *****. Around here I ride on slurry seal which ain't bad, to chip seal with reasonably sized aggregate which ain't bad after a couple of months to chip seal with mondo 1" aggregate which never gets good except in the tire tracks of the road.

The worst part is that my county chipseals even the bike lane or shoulder even though that part of the road sees little wear. The county could probably save thousands of dollars by not chip sealing the bike lanes and shoulders.
Les, the chipseal around here is butter compared to the stuff they put down in Eastern Washington. It's way chunky- I'd consider a balloon tire bike with Schwalbe Big Apples if I were riding there all the time. I've ridden the Yakima-to-Prosser Wine Trek ride a couple times and thought I was going to lose fillings each time.
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Old 07-31-11, 04:07 PM
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My least favorite spots are Minnehaha from HWY99 to St. Johns Rd. and 10th Avenue north of 5th St. in Ridgefield. There's another N/S road with a couple miles of rough stuff. Can't recall if it'd 72nd or 117th.

Never had the pleasure of riding anything but MTB trails on the dry side of the state. Maybe when I retire I'll ride out there.
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Old 07-31-11, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Drumnagorrach View Post
I'm getting the picture, Much the same as here eh ?
Can't see why not. Didn't a Scotsman named McAdam invent modern paving?
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