Saturday, November 18, 2017

BEST PAVEMENT FOR RACING- how asphalt affects any vehicle.

To understand and appreciate quality pavement engineering and the effect of good asphalt on the driving experience, let us take on the perspective of a CYCLIST.  The long-distance cyclist takes on many road conditions are notably the single-best people to discern the quality of any pavement and how they affect your driving experience and the performance of your vehicle on any given road.

As with all road vehicles, success in the sport of cycling and the bike's performance completely relies on the "rubber meets the road" dynamics where the surface & texture, aggregate type, condition and flexibility (ability to expand & contract in certain temperatures) all pay a significant role in the cyclists' physical endurance and the tires' overall response.

Roads and race tracks are both commonly paved with Asphalt. Depending on the size of the crushed rocks (or aggregates) used, new paving can provide a bumpy ride resulting in vibrations that add resistance to a vehicle (affecting a car's mileage and more fatigue and physical strain to a cyclist).   At high speeds, the bouncing effect caused by the asphalt texture creates "micro-tremmors" or
"micro-shocks" that bring a vertical resistance to your frontal motion as your tires are constantly lifting above ground in each mini-bump.  This causes significant reduction in the adhesion between rubber and road, reducing your forward thrust and glide.

Eventually, asphalt aggregates flatten out more once enough tires roll over them enough times- but what remains is a certain level of adhesiveness of the asphalt material interacting with your tires.  It is this adhesiveness that forms the GRIP - especially at higher speeds equating to higher temperatures supporting and adding to your vehicle's frontal propulsion.

The asphalt liquid binder is usually a petroleum-based product and is engineered to endure the day-to-day wear of any road or street.  Over time, the adhesion of asphalt onto itself wears with age, climate changes and the daily abuse from heavy vehicles (flattening or compressing the asphalt removes the flexibility).  It then begins to crumble and form cracks and debris like grains of gravel and sand on the surface that adds to the loss of tire grip and friction.  This reduction in grip translates into tire slippage which also adds to speed and performance loss.

1 comment:

  1. Being an experienced Triathlete, of which Cycling is our longest discipline, this article nails a few important topics. Road surface, among other obstacles, are important to cyclists. If we have terrible conditions, we most certainly change our pace, speed, effort, heart rate, etc. The surface, along with incline, wind, etc. all play an important role in our ride, especially long rides.

    One thing we do to minimize vibration is use "Carbon Fiber" bikes, displacing the vibrations into the softer compared to steel, or aluminum. Carbon fiber is light weight, but the vibration reduction is a huge part in solving some of the road conditions, especially on long island which gets hit with rain and snow.

    The best roads make for best courses. With roads being tight (grip) and smooth, it makes it more desirable, providing for the best results in a ride. When we find that blissful ride, we tend to stick to it and ride it more frequently. After all, sitting on a trainer for 2 hours is just plain painful!


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