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View Full Version : Death of dirt roads? And what does that mean for dirt road riding?


FlashUNC
06-13-2012, 12:11 PM
I thought this was interesting, and curious the perspectives of many folks on the board here.
My home state is currently working feverishly to pave every last bit of unpaved, state maintained gravel and dirt roads. I find it interesting this comes at a time when dirt road rides seem to be the new "in" thing, with classics like Strade Bianche popping up, and domestic races like the Battenkill being pretty huge draws. Even the major manufacturers are now making bikes that cater to this kind of road riding.

Heck, I've even signed up for D2R2's 115k loop this fall with a couple buddies from Boston. (If anyone has suggestions on equipment, I'm all ears. Current thought is my Redline cross bike with Challenge Parigi-Roubaix tires.)

But are we reaching the end of the line for dirt roads in some places, just as this seems to be taking off? I know to prep for D2R2, I've wanted to get in some dirt road rides here, but the closest state maintained dirt roads are two counties over -- according the state DOT maps -- and those might already have been paved since the maps were last updated.


http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/27/2091989/north-carolina-seeks-to-pave-its.html

MattTuck
06-13-2012, 12:23 PM
Interesting.

North Carolina is a special case, as many areas were basically living in the 1800's as recently as the latter half of the last century. So their efforts to modernize and create an attractive place to move, do business, etc. may have led to over zealous paving.


I am also not sure what the real downside of dirt roads is in the South. Up here, dirt roads need to be basically repaired every year, and that is costly.
In the spring, the roads get totally torn up. It's a real mess.

Call me a cynic, but I bet a big part of the push has to do with the lobbying efforts of asphalt suppliers and the construction labor unions. I don't think paving makes sense for a road that only has several houses on it.

Ti Designs
06-13-2012, 12:27 PM
I don't get how people make distinctions between good and bad when it comes to roads. The battle loop for example is a local dirt road that D2R2 types ride all the time. Somerset Street in Belmont center is a paved road with a good hill, but the pavement is so bad that nobody rides on it. If the point of having a cushy bike with big tires is to be able to ride anywhere, why not just ride anywhere??? The Mass state flower is the pothole, it's time to smell the flowers.

on a side note, I've noticed poison ivy growing in some of the large potholes on the 95 overpass in Waltham. Just when you thought it was at it's worst...

fiamme red
06-13-2012, 12:34 PM
I don't get how people make distinctions between good and bad when it comes to roads. The battle loop for example is a local dirt road that D2R2 types ride all the time. Somerset Street in Belmont center is a paved road with a good hill, but the pavement is so bad that nobody rides on it. If the point of having a cushy bike with big tires is to be able to ride anywhere, why not just ride anywhere??? The Mass state flower is the pothole, it's time to smell the flowers.

on a side note, I've noticed poison ivy growing in some of the large potholes on the 95 overpass in Waltham. Just when you thought it was at it's worst...Your potholes don't sound so bad. In our potholes, homeless people have begun taking shelter at night.

oliver1850
06-13-2012, 01:04 PM
I really noticed the trend when trying to put a long gravel loop together. Lots of roads in my area that used to be gravel are now oil and chip, some are paved. I was able to put together a stretch of 13 miles of continuous gravel, but most of it is in a neighboring county.

States vary as to what level of government has jurisdiction over the roads. In Iowa (as I understand it) the counties maintain all the roads that aren't state or federal. In Illinois most rural roads are township, and the decisions regarding them are made by a single elected individual in each township. In my township there are about 58 miles of roads; 6 miles of those are state roads, 7 are county, the rest are township. The township has a road commissionser who has steadily gotten rid of gravel over the last 20 years. I'd guess there were 20 miles or more of gravel in the township in 1985. There are 7 miles remaining. By contrast, the next township west has about the same amount of gravel as it did 20 years ago. I'm sure the trend is away from gravel, but there will remain places with lots of it for some time to come, especially if oil prices go up drastically.

Ken Robb
06-13-2012, 01:19 PM
Anyone who had to drive on a gravel road every day would welcome paving, in my opinion. The dust or mud and gravel hitting your car ages it prematurely and the reduced traction greatly reduces safe speeds.

All gravel roads I have known required grading at least once a year or they developed severe cases of washboard surface. People who live near an unpaved road also get plenty of wind-blown dust on and in their homes too. I think the politicians in power will have a surge of voter support if they can claim credit for paving the roads in the district.

I like riding gravel roads but I think it's due more to the light traffic on them than the fun of a sketchy surface. After a dirt road is paved it's logical that traffic on it will increase but that is somewhat offset by reduced traffic on the other paved roads drivers used to avoid the gravel.

goonster
06-13-2012, 01:29 PM
Lots of wonderful gravel roads in the Shenandoah valley.

Set up your D2R2 training camp in Harrisonburg . . .

EDS
06-13-2012, 01:40 PM
It is interesting that in New York State some of the dirt roads run through some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country (i.e., Bedford, Katonah, etc.). They also tend to run through some rural areas like Washington County (i.e., Battenkill country) that are on the other extreme.

Louis
06-13-2012, 01:51 PM
IMO this is like bemoaning the disappearance of polio.

azrider
06-13-2012, 01:52 PM
Move to Oklahoma or Missouri. Those states will never run out of dirt/gravel roads.

keevon
06-13-2012, 02:02 PM
“Some of what they’re doing here is pure-T ridiculous,” Norris said. “But let me tell you, I am going to be glad to see it right here.”

That's a new one to me. Anyone heard it before?

fireball
06-13-2012, 02:05 PM
Vermont will never have enough money to pave all the dirt roads in the state. Hell, a few years ago the city of Montpelier removed the pavement on a section of road, converting it back to dirt, in order to improve it.

FlashUNC
06-13-2012, 02:12 PM
IMO this is like bemoaning the disappearance of polio.

Apologies if my tone sounds like I'm bemoaning it. Rather I find it interesting the sport has found a niche that could very well be disappearing if some politicians force the issue.

DOT only uses paved in the very loosest sense in Charlotte. There are some roads I've been on locally that would have been better off as dirt or gravel.

sg8357
06-13-2012, 02:40 PM
Split the difference, pave with pavé.
Let's bring the spring classics to Vermont.
Brandon gap with cobbles anyone ?

MattTuck
06-13-2012, 07:48 PM
IMO this is like bemoaning the disappearance of polio.

Ok, maybe it isn't THAT bad. But I agree. Trying to 'save dirt roads' that you don't live on, just so you can ride on them, is like protesting against high speed internet in local areas because the wires will be an eye-sore.

robin3mj
06-13-2012, 09:22 PM
Anyone who had to drive on a gravel road every day would welcome paving, in my opinion. The dust or mud and gravel hitting your car ages it prematurely and the reduced traction greatly reduces safe speeds.

All gravel roads I have known required grading at least once a year or they developed severe cases of washboard surface. People who live near an unpaved road also get plenty of wind-blown dust on and in their homes too. I think the politicians in power will have a surge of voter support if they can claim credit for paving the roads in the district.

I like riding gravel roads but I think it's due more to the light traffic on them than the fun of a sketchy surface. After a dirt road is paved it's logical that traffic on it will increase but that is somewhat offset by reduced traffic on the other paved roads drivers used to avoid the gravel.

I worked for public works while in school and there is not much that is less fun than fine tuning a gravel road after the rocks have been dumped on it and the grader has gone through.