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Melting tarmac, why?


Tar fondu

Life in France is great but it’s not without its problems, the relentless politicisation of every minor event, teenagers on mopeds with modified exhausts that make a vuvuzuela sound soothing and… melting roads.

Picture the scene, you are descending a stunning route and suddenly round a bend to discover the road is melting, the once rock-hard tarmac is now in a semi-liquefied state. It’s like Dick Dastardly and Mutley have coated the road with treacle, the viscous tar sticks to the point of making you feel the bike decelerate.

Connoisseurs will actually recognise various forms of this, from oil-slick style running tarmac that coats your tyres to the deeper sections where bubbles slowly form and pop as you ride over.

The Science Bit
When it’s 35°C outside, that’s just the temperature in the shade. The tarmac itself is black, absorbs heat and can hit 80°C, no wonder it melts. It also means you can ride through air heated at 50°C. As a remedy to this sometimes the race route has been sprayed with water before the riders go past in a vain effort to cool it.

The rant bit

Yes it gets hot in France but I don’t understand why this is not taken into account when the authorities contract to get a road surfaced. Laying down something that’s going to literally melt when the weather hots up is stupid and dangerous, yet it’s something that happens time after time.

It can ruin your tyres, and can turn a white car into a Dalmatian scheme and above all, all road users lose traction substantially. Riders have crashed because of this in the Tour and amateurs risk the same.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 3 July 2010, 9:46 am

    a friend of mine stationed in Texas during the summer ruined a set of $80-a-piece Vitorias because of this.

  • vendeeu Sunday, 4 July 2010, 9:06 pm

    Agreed