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Had a chance to climb onto my Harley this weekend and cruise county roads to enjoy the good weather.
Of course, if you want to ride the roads in our area on two wheels, you need to pick and choose which roads are safe enough.
That rules out much of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County. The Parkway is now resurfaced (if that is a usable term) with a mixture of tar and gravel called “chip seal” that leaves the surface covered in loose gravel.
In Floyd County, our secondary roads are often covered with the same stuff. They call it “surface treated.” On a motorcycle, it’s an invitation to slide and go down. One a road like the Parkway, a slide on a curve can send the bike and driver down a long incline and disappear.
I start each motorcycle ride with an encounter with “chip seal.” A new layer cover Sandy Flats Road.
The Parkway calls this “a maintenance strategy.”
Reads a release form the National Park Service:
Blue Ridge Parkway managers are introducing a maintenance strategy designed to extend the life of pavement on this historic route; and this summer several sections of Parkway in Virginia between Milepost 27 and 175 have been identified for work as part of a Pavement Preservation Program (PPP).
The pavement preservation technique that will be used on the Parkway is known as chipseal, which involves the application of liquid asphalt and stone chips to the road surface. On the Parkway, chipseal will be applied along with a fog seal application to minimize loose gravel and accumulation. This technique can require up to two days to cure properly. Several national parks, including Yellowstone National Park which also accommodates high volumes of visitor traffic, have successfully incorporated chipseal in their preservation program.
The program came with lowered speed limits. It also came with an increase in accidents involving not only motorcycle but cars that can slide on the loose gravel, which also can caused chipped paint and other cosmetic damage.
Many motorcycle riders now cross off the Parkway on any planned trips, which is not good news for vendors on the popular road.
“If it deters motorcycle drivers, it will hurt us,” says Andrew Mather, General Manager of Peaks of Otter Lodge, a popular stopping point for riders.
As the Parkway heads into fall colors season, visitors who cruise the road may think twice about risking life, limb and body paint just to gawk at the view.
i will be gawking and photographing fall colors somewhere else this year.