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Tar Snakes


Mike O

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With weather warming up (over 80F.. clap.gifclap.gif), and the surface of the road heating even higher, my ride through the foothills today the tar snakes caused me much frustration.

 

Naturally, you most notice them on turns where your leaned over and the bike feels (just momentarily) like its going to fall, twitching to outside, until tires re-grip. It's quite un-nerving and affects my confidence. Slowing down seems to help, but then I get a fixation watching the next tar snakes approach (i.e. I approach them). If it were predictable patterns of tar I could create a pace and adjust accordingly, but these are very random. And trying to adjust lines through turns are becoming a real challenge.

 

So, I'm curious how others handle tar snakes. Any hints would be appreciated.

 

Regards,

 

Mike O

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ShovelStrokeEd

Ask David about tar snakes. eek.gif

 

They do tend to create 'moments'. I try to ride around them when I can and just pay attention to throttle when I can't. Most any bike will recover from the momentary loss of traction if being ridden at reasonable levels. The 'twitch' can be disconcerting, to put it mildly.

 

If you are riding at corner speeds such that it really becomes a problem, might I respectfully suggest you slow down a bit?

 

BTW, it is not just corners. I had an incident on I-70 a couple of years ago when I gassed it up to pass a left lane hog in the rain and my rear tire broke traction as I transitioned across a big tar snake between the lanes. Put my fully laden GS Adv into a pretty bad wobble that took about 200 yards to resolve itself. Detuned me for the next 50 miles or so.

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Mike,

 

I play with them whenever I can. Especially when it's warm out. It's good to get a feel for that "twitch" before you encounter it in an unplanned situation.

 

I'll usually start with gentle weaves crossing over them and them move onto weaves crossing them at the apex of the weave. When you start to get a little wheel slide, you get a better appreciation of the momentary slip and how quickly it recovers. I also practice gradual braking and acceleration on the strips.

 

They can be tricky, but if the rider doesn't panic, are usually easily recovered from. Practicing helps to control the urge to panic.

 

And finally, be careful when you experiment. Make sure you have plenty of room around you and I don't recommend practicing while in any kind of traffic.

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Joe Frickin' Friday
I play with them whenever I can. Especially when it's warm out. It's good to get a feel for that "twitch" before you encounter it in an unplanned situation.

...

And finally, be careful when you experiment. Make sure you have plenty of room around you and I don't recommend practicing while in any kind of traffic.

 

thumbsup.gif Started doing this a long time ago. If something makes you uncomfortable, you rehearse it in a controlled setting (if possible). Tar snakes don't bother me so much anymore.

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Well echoing the others, it can be a bit of a 'brown moment.' But I do think it helps to realize that unless you get onto a long parallel one (like Ed's situation apparently was), and even then if you cross them with any kind of an acute angle, they rarely are anything serious. Just a momentary twinge. Just part of the fun factor of being on a bike!

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...If you are riding at corner speeds such that it really becomes a problem, might I respectfully suggest you slow down a bit?...
Ed,

 

Perfectly reasonable suggestion and one I followed after encountering tar snakes years ago. And the suggestions to 'practice' are good ones, as well. There are two places that the tar snakes 'bite me';

 

- on acceleration out of the apex (your exit point), where an unanticipated (albeit minor) drift throws your exit line wacko...(I try to plan my turn as a series of points connected together) fortunately, one is generally pointed in the proper direction, but its still eye-opening the first time you encounter it.

- and the general outward slide around any turn.

 

The later I would treat similar as any hazard in the road (albeit the occur so much more frequently, than say, sand for instance). Over the weekend, the former (acceleration on exit) left a new crease in my seat! crazy.gif

 

Regards,

 

Mike O

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Lots of cities around here are using "chip seal" and "slurry seal" to re-coat crumbling, asphalt surface streets. Initally there is loose gravel to ride on until the gravel is gound down into the tar by passing traffic. Occasionally the tar is applied too thick at or near intersctions and the gravel disappears entirely. This creates giant "tar pizzas" that soften in the hot sun. Run over these at anything but a slight lean angle and you go down. Surface appraisal is only way to avoid it.

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T. snakes can be un-nerving at first. I just slow it down a bit in the summer. Not much of an issue in the winter down here.

 

Now tar snakes in the rain are to be respected.

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Thanks...

 

1. Surface appraisal...

2. Slow down

3. Practice in a controlled (ala Parking lot) environment

4. Properly maintained bike (especially tires and brakes).

 

Good advice.

 

Regards,

 

Mike O

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Mike, your statement about Confidence moves me. Confidence is partially composed of Expectation, and I think a different view of our expectations is warranted in the presence of Tar Snakes.

 

Losing Confidence is a diminishment in one's sense that one Can, that one is capable, in this case of Controlling a motorcycle. Doubt is another way of looking at that. One Wonders, rather than Knows that one will maintain control of the bike, and such things as get to one's destination.

 

Rather than live for a time in a world of paired senses of "Yes, I can", and "No, I can't", I'd much rather move things over toward a concept like, "Yes, the bike DOES kind of hop around" - replacing the uncertainty with a Certainty. Now we can choose to operate based in Certainty, being Decisive, rather than in Doubt, and open to subsequent mistakes stemming from Indecisiveness.

 

I treat a road with longitudinal Tar Snakes as if it is or had been raining and the road surface is wet. Wet roads have less traction; They're slippery. So, I ride as if this were a slippery road, reducing speed in corners so as to reduce lean angle. Reduced lean angle will prevent some incidents of slippage, and it will reduce the others. The kind of ride that results, is one that one has Decided will result. It is now a ride that one is Controlling - exerting greater control over IS Controlling.

 

As one Expects the slides, and now expects lessened slides, one GETS what one is expecting. Confidence rises because Prediction goes up.

 

 

Decisiveness leads to Control, which raises Predictability, which inspires Confidence.

 

All that is about Responsibility: One's Responsibility TO Self; One's Responsibility ABOUT Conditions.

 

Conditions, sound, sensible, prudent grasp thereof, is what makes a productive basis for Expectations. When we grasp we'll be Riding on a wet road, or grasp that we'll be Riding on new asphalt with that granular white sand laid atop it to absorb the oil it's going to exude, why, we Responsibly slow and/or reduce lean angles. To maintain Control.

 

It makes no sense to me to treat Tar Snakes, and their threats or challenges to traction, to be treated any differently than a wet or sandy road - a road with Reduced Traction.

 

Exercise Responsibility: Be Decisive; Understand true present Conditions; Set valid Expectations; Exert Control; Increase Predictability. Experience increased Confidence.

 

Best wishes.

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Dick,

 

Well said...(as always). Certainly a viewpoint I'll give further thought to (i.e. relationship of 'Confidence to Experience to Expectations).

 

Regards,

 

Mike O

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This is of no help, but a tar snake story I still chuckle over.

 

My bride and I picked up a Truimph in London in 1970, to tour western Europe. No destination just explore (out first time.) My ATTGAT consisted of a thin nylon sailing jacket as a windbreaker and we both had half helmets (I was safety conciuos). I insisted my bride wear a jacket (denim).

 

We were running good in Belgium on a new road. We decided to break for lunch (wine & cheese - Europe on $5/day). Getting off the exit the posted speed was 45. I was about 70 slowed down to 60 and the exit began to tighten up. I saw the tar strip between the road and the shoulder but I couldn't break my lean. I hit the tar strip and I felt my bride leave the bike. I stuck with it a moment - then began to roll and a big mistake, tried to stop myself with an ungloved hand. Then I slide halfway under the alum guard rail on my back. Incredibly my bride slide next to me on her back our shoulders were a foot apart. I said to her are, you alright? She said yes and ran like hell.

 

I looked down the exit and she joined a half dozen other folks watching me. I soon joined her & asked why she ran. She said I was afraid the bike would go on fire....... To which I replied , so you left me there you sob?

 

The problem on the turn was... the speed posted was in KPH and I had an English bike in MPH.

 

The hospital was excellent and they bandaged the lacerations pretty good. After straightening the forks I looked like the invisable man (the movie) riding. We finished our tour to southern Italy and I blew the engine in southern France trying to make it back to London for our flight. The Triumph dry sump couldn't take 90mph (top speed) for 20 minutes. That's when I became a BMW fan (wet sump).

 

BTW, I'm still married to the old girl in spite of that moment.

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Agent_Orange

During this last El Paseo I was motoring up to Brasstown Bald about noon. Ah, the air was cool, but the sun was out.

Flicked the bike into a tight assending right-hander, and low-and-behold, the rear slid out. blush.gif I mean, big time. The bike actually bounced off of the centerstand. tongue.gif The ONLY reason I did not go down was the right hand did NOT do what the brain told it to do(or vice-versa).

Much grass to the 'Superbike School'. thumbsup.gif

I stayed on the gas and the bike gathered up under me and on I went. Needless to say, in a more prudent manner. dopeslap.gif

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One thing to consider with tar snakes is polarized vs. non-polarized sunglasses. I find polarized glasses tend to make tar snakes shiny making my brain think "slippery". I have switched to non-polarized glasses for the majority of my riding because of this fact.

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One thing to consider with tar snakes is polarized vs. non-polarized sunglasses. I find polarized glasses tend to make tar snakes shiny making my brain think "slippery". I have switched to non-polarized glasses for the majority of my riding because of this fact.
Why? Don't understand why you would not want them to look slippery, since at times they are???
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Why wouldn't I want them to "look" slippery? I think there is a difference between respecting tar snakes and having visual overload causing confusion. I agree with many of the posts -- slow down and/or practice. Since my vision is the main component of my situational awareness, why confuse it with incorrect information? I prefer sun protection with all the visual input I can get vs. sun protection and filtered information.

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