Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Salute to Chip Seal

The other day as we rode on Chuckanut Dr I noticed that most of the roads were covered in chip seal 

If you haven’t done much cycling you are probably asking yourself what the heck is chip seal.  I don’t blame you.  Chip seal isn’t something that comes up in your normal everyday conversation unless you’re a cyclist.  If you’re among cyclists you’re liable to hear things like “That chip seal made me feel like I was riding in sand all day”, or “I curse the day chip seal was invented.”  

So what exactly is chip seal you ask?  It’s a cheap way to pave a road that leaves the final surface very rough and not friendly for cyclists.  Here’s the better description if you’re really curious.  Also, if you take close look at the background photo of my blog you’ll see a prime example of chip seal.  As I rode on this terrible surface the other day I tried to think of some good things about chip seal.  To be honest I couldn’t think of any at the moment but since then I’ve come up with some.  Here’s my positive spin on the dreaded chip seal.  

It gives you a better workout.  Runners run in sand for a better workout. Cyclists ride on chip seal.  No need for a head wind.  

It tests the structural integrity of your bike.  If you’re ever curious if all the components are securely fastened on your bike take a couple hour ride on some chip seal.  It’s sure to knock things off of your bike.  

Chip seal increases your bike handling skills.  If you’re like me you’ve found that if you ride on the white line on the side of the road it’s smother and thus faster and a lot slipperier.  By riding on this thin white line for miles it increases your bike handling skills.  

Chip seal encourages alertness.  Another tactic I use while riding on chip seal is to ride in one of the ruts of the lane that car tires make.  This is obviously a smoother portion of the lane because it’s worn down.  Of course I only ride there when cars aren’t around.  Because I’m riding in the middle of the road it forces me to be on the alert for cars so I can move over as they approach.  Most of the time I’m successful at this.

Finally, chip seal keeps me from going too fast thus keeping my bike under control.  This really isn’t my favorite thing about chip seal but you could say it’s a positive.  

So next time you’re out on a rural road and you come across some chip seal try to remain on the positive side and enjoy yourself.

Friday is the big day for the weight loss challenge report out.  I’ll post my results first thing in the morning.  Feel free to either send me an email or post a comment with your results.  It’s been a fun week in that regard because it’s forced me to train harder than normal and eat a little more rabbit food.  


Jenny said...

Good job finding some positive! How about you can let the little kid in you come out by singing aaahhhhhh and listen to your voice rattle.

Groover said...

Yeap, I know what chip seal is. We just don't call it that but don't ask me what we call it here. cheese grater roads or dead roads, I think.

Jeff said...

The only thing I like about chip seal is that the tar bubbles pop on hot summer days, making it sort of like riding over bubble wrap.

jeff said...

The only thing that makes a chip seal road better is a nice rumble strip.

331 Miles said...

During the Shiner BASH last year, we rode on a really rough stretch of new chip seal for maybe 10 miles. If I wanted to stop, I could have collected dozens of water bottles knocked out by bumps and vibration. The vibration alos worked a screw out of a buddy's speedplays, and he rode the last 20 miles with one pedal. Chip seal! Hurray!

Linda said...

I've seen chip seal and driven over it once or twice but we don't have that around here in South Jersey too much. I recall even in the car I was hoping the engine mounting bolts would hold, let alone on a bike.We do have lots of sand though!

And I don't know where or how or when, but I lost a pound so far this week...

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