Jaysus, hasn’t Wexford got some quare rough road surfaces..?!!
I don’t know how many times over the years that I’ve been part of this type of conversation with other riders on our county’s roads.
The conversation then normally turns to comparisons of how in our neighbouring counties of Carlow, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wicklow, that the road surfaces are so much better.
Certainly when it comes to our myriad of back roads or even some of our R roads, it’s a difficult one to argue against..
Like many other road cyclists, those in your company on the road have cycled in many counties and have experienced smooth surfaces elsewhere and compare these to the jaw-clattering experience of some of Wexford’s big chipping tar ‘n’ chip dressings.
Why might that be one wonders?
Well there are many reasons, the most obvious one being the sheer numbers of back roads we have in our county. Council budgetary restraints have seen these deteriorate over the years and while they may not be too noticeable when you drive; cycling along them can be challenging and off putting.
Large tar ‘n’ chip surfacing
The specific problem that I wish to highlight here though is the frequent use of unsuitable tar and chip surfacing, sometimes involving very large chippings as you can see in the jar at the right hand side below.
On a recent spin, I stopped to grab a fistful of chippings at the side of the road from two recently resurfaced tar and chip roads.
I wanted to compare chipping sizes used on the R736 Kilmore Rd (which has now settled down to being OK), to the turn off for Ballinaboola from Wellingtonbridge on the R736. The latter is part of EuroVelo1, a recognised council approved cycle route.
I found a fistful of chippings quite easy to grab on EV1 resurfaced section. Indeed I could have brought a trailer with me, such is the abundance of chippings at the roadside. Clearly chippings of THAT size don’t bed easily in to tar. A tractor or two travelling along its freshly laid surface would cut such a surface to bits for example. This is far from unique in Co. Wexford unfortunately with the worst being a horrible section of the R735 between Ballymackassey cross and Adamstown village.
Creating a denture shattering experience
This leaves large embedded isolated chippings making the surface excellent for Paris Roubaix training but nigh on useless for the cycle tourists that this route aims to attract.
This becomes particularly problematic in the face of a recent excellent envisioned plan from TD Michael D’Arcy’s (Facebook post linked). His vision is for the N11 to be a cycling route and from it, we can connect and develop cycling routes. Creating non inviting, teeth shattering surfaces could hinder that process.
WexBUG has addressed this particular problem at our recent meeting with senior officials at Wexford Co Co.
Time will tell how they address this but it was agreed that the use of such large 14mm chips is not ideal in such circumstances.