Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Don't Understand How...


I went out for a ride a couple of weekends ago.  That is not unusual, but it occurred not long after our snow and ice storms that paralyzed us for a few days.  As you might expect here and abouts, the only retail establishments that did well then were the grocery stores, which, as usual, sold out of milk and bread just before the tumult.  

Odd, that.  Don't people have enough stock of this stuff to last a couple of days?  Ah, well.  Mine is not to question why

Anyway, I headed up US-76 from Westminster, SC to find a waterfall that I had read about.  This one. 

I obviously found it, and will advise you, kind reader, in a few days about its location and picturesque attributes, but first, I have an observation and a question. 

You see, I had occasion to travel back towards home on SC-28, also euphemistically known as Moonshiner 28.  Specifically the stretch shown here:

View Larger Map

(By the way, if you travel the other way on Moonshiner 28, toward the northwest, you can go all the way to the infamous Tail of the Dragon via. twisty roads almost all the way.  Some say 28 is the better road.)  

Along the part of 28 I rode, there are some nice sweeping curves, but some tight ones in a few places.  I was tooling along and two guys on BMWs passed me at a good clip in a straight section.  

I opened the throttle a little to keep up with them, and was doing well for a couple of curves when, alas, I noticed a change in the road surface. 

There was a considerable amount of sand in places.  I hadn’t seen much of that so far, but here it had been spread liberally to improve traction during the cold weather.  Its remains can be very slippery for two wheelers when it has dried out, and sometimes a light dusting is difficult to detect, but slick as ball bearings on banana peels. 

In particular, there is a pair of sweepers near the Stumphouse Ranger Station (named after the nearby and long unfinished Stumphouse railroad tunnel).  

View Larger Map

The curves are not very tight, but there was a lot of sand there.  True, it was not in the driving lanes, but some of it certainly could have been, especially lurking out of sight around the curve. 

See it there on the left side of the turn lane?  

At that point, I slowed down and never saw the two guys again.  I was bummed out a bit, as I had wanted to have a spirited ride too.  

Oh, well, the better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life.

Here is what I don’t understand:

The BMW guys appeared to be good riders, probably not exceeding their capabilities on this road.

Except for one thing they could not count on. 

How/why were they trusting the road surface so much so soon after the white stuff mostly melted?  A sprinkling of sand could have brought them dire consequences. 

This puzzled me.  Had they scouted the road before this run, making mental notes of hazards? 

Unlikely as it seems, were they oblivious to the risk the sand might present?  Were they simply ignoring the possible risk so as to have a spirited ride for the day? 

I like to think it was the first situation -- that they had scouted beforehand -- but who knows? 

I am certainly more cautious than most riders.  I have never dragged a hard part on a road in a curve (other than the toe of my out-of-place boot).  My chicken strips are pretty wide. 

But I cannot trust the road surface enough to do it any other way, particularly when it is very likely that there is debris on the surface like there was that day.  

What do you think?  

1 comment:

bob skoot said...


I'm on your side. It is better to be cautious when on an unknown road, or when the road surface may not be ideal due to ice or sand. Either that, they had ridden the other way before and scouted it out, or someone they knew rode that road and gave them a good report.

I also have a Beemer R1200R which I used for my trip last summer across the Country. This is not excuse but let me say that I have Traction Control, and ABS. The telelever suspension does not nose dive. All these things give you more confidence to go faster, even when you shouldn't. The engine feels so smooth you don't realize your speeds

A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast