What is the cost and best way to pave/asphalt a good race tr

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Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Wed Dec 04, 2002 9:44 am

Ok let’s say you have an area where you could asphalt/pave a good slalom course.

What would be the best dimensions for this paved area, both single track and double including starting area and run-out.

What would be the best way to go about getting the best surface? And what would the cost be to lay some good asphalt down? What is the best slalom skateboarding surface?

Chris Eggers
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Post by Chris Eggers » Wed Dec 04, 2002 10:11 am

I think the best surface is black asphalt. There are different qualities though. I talked to a few city officials and Erwin Rechsteiner from Bowl Construction in Switzerland (www.bowl.ch) about that. The difference is only noticed after a few years when the tar gets washed out and the pepples remain. It gets rougher by the year. The smaller the pebbles the higher the quality.
If I would have the decision for an artificial race site I would make it 200 meters long with maybe 2-4 % downhill grade plus a 20 meters runout zone (maybe uphill) and about 30 meters wide with permanent concrete startramps 1,60 meters high with transition. The cost would probably be about 20.000 Euro over here not considering the price for the ground.

Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Wed Dec 04, 2002 10:47 am

Thanks for replying.

Please let me put that in feet:
Your saying 200m or 650ft in length, plus additional 20m or 66ft runout.
With a width of 30m or 98ft.
Plus an additional area for the permanent starting ramp area.

That seems like an "Ultimate" dimension.

I'm just curious, what has been the average length needed/used at FCR races?

Chris Eggers
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Post by Chris Eggers » Wed Dec 04, 2002 11:15 am

Uh I don´t know. I have just been to Morro Bay.

We had about 320 feet in the Tunnel. It seemed allright for me in the tight slalom, but I would have loved to put a few more gates in the giant. It all depends on the grade of downhill though, so I think you cannot tell a perfect overall length.

Oh yeah another perfect thing for an artificial race site would be:

Banks on either side like a ditch and grandstands for the spectators (dreaming), oh yeah, and a vertramp next to it, a pool and a few streetobstacles and a freestyle area. That would make a perfect skatepark getting us all together and getting everyone interested in all kinds of skateboarding. Gotta win the lottery.

John Gilmour
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Post by John Gilmour » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:17 pm

Ready for a long post?

A few things about the road- some related to this thread and a few things not.

This is to paraphrase from some things I read/head about paving and road usage. Uuuuh, I actually made it all up.

Road Quality. In The USA we have many different paving contractors and our road quality varies a lot. We tend to have shallower bases for our roads. Good Roads use some new earth covered by a supporting base of crushed stone and so forth. Good roads are made of multiple layers of various substrates. Most USA roads are not made to handle very heavy loads such as 18 wheelers and when President Ronald R. deregulated trucking our roads became full of potholes and cracks- which for us slalomers there was a bright side and a dark side. The dark side was that newly paved roads weren't smooth for long- the bright side was that everything got repaved more frequently "more freshies".

Europe enjoys better quality roads but less over all pavement. Their roads are utilized to a higher capacity. They have several extremely large paving contractors that warranty the roads for a period of 20 years or more against cracks. They have huge paving machines that lay down asphalt in a two lane wide path at a time without seems and without leaving the pavement "exposed and Scarified" for weeks at a time.

The longest running study of American traffic congestion done by the Texas Transportation Institute studied 75 metropolitan areas and found that traffic jams grew from 32 percent in 1982 to 58% percent in 2000.Rush hour increased from 4.5 hours to 7.5 hours a day. The National Average "time Penalty" for peak time travelers increased from 16 hours a year to 62 hours a year (Boston is higher than that and LA is likely to be much much much higher).

Skip this if you are easily bored.
Earliest roads 3000 B.C. (anything before that was P.S. (Pre slalom) ) in late Neolithic period. Originally they were wagon paths.
Trade routes know as the "Amber Routes" linked Greece and Italy to the Baltic sea. Though slalom never flourished in Greece- despite all that smooth marble- (there were never any good Greek slalom myths written as opposed to other European slalom myths).
The Chinese constructed a network of more than 2000 miles of roads hacked out of dry earth or carved into sandstone. (Seismic trucks run over these roads now)
The Royal Road of Persia (We have probably already bombed it - and now we are getting ready for some more pavement "modification" ) stretched 1,775 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Aegean Sea.
In Northern Europe logs laid over marshes made roads over marshes possible. (Dalv boards would later be made out of these vintage logs)

Those yet unborn Italian Slalomers- wanting to have a place to practice their art pushed the Romans to develop a road system for the expanding Roman Empire. They had the first engineered road system.
They built the first straight roads (To dominate Parallel slalom).
They built them with graded and bermed foundations to shed water (to make Gilmourian curves more challenging). On top of the foundations laid a bedding of sand and mortar with rows of flat stones atop that a thin layer of gravel mixed with lime (to stop plant growth) and a thin wearing surface of flint like lava based stone. The depth of these first real roads were from 3-5 feet (A little less than an Ed Ecomony longboard). At the height of the Empire they had a whopping 53,000 miles of roads (this before the urethane wheel!) and of course all roads led to Rome- making it harder for the great slalomers not to come from Rome.

The USA has 46,600 miles of interstate by comparison- Damn those Italians. But if you include the rest of our US. National Highway system roads we have 160,600 miles of roads (Which is why the World Championships were held in Morro Bay instead of Rome).

Then the Dark ages- (akin to the age of no slalom gear in the 1980's and 1990's) came and the roads deteriorated - except local cobblestone streets- too rough for even the largest softest durometer ABEC 11 wheel.

Then in the 1800's a Scotsman named John Loudon McAdam revolutionized roads. He proved that horses, wagons, bikes, could be supported by a thin substrate of crushed granite or greenstone, on top of a soil foundation covered by smaller stones. Called "McAdam" this reduced the road costs.

The USA was different……. as always…. and we put our attention towards Railroad construction. My family used to produce locomotives (Ellis Gilmour made Ellis railroad locomotives) for the Civil war- and later we made locomotives to open up the West- the birthplace of skateboarding. Mostly the roads were dirt tracks but the urban centers started paing. Cobble stones, wooden blocks, and crushed stones made up the base of most roads. Crushed stones were the cheapest- but the loose stone roads were hard to maintain.

Road builders began to use ASPHALT or hot tar to bind together the compacted stones base and this was called Macadam (Named after John McAdam- my first name and middle name is John Adams- see the similarity and my obsession?)

In the aggregate asphalt is bitumen- a thick tar like substance that gets smooshy at higher temperatures (And gets soft sometimes on hotter days) and hardens as it cools. We have a lot of bitumen in the USA and it is also a by-product of petroleum-refining (See why the West wanted to be dependant on the car?- Uses gas and uses roads made of petroleum by-products). AS we drive more- we use more gas and get more materials for roads. What if we go electric? Well they had better be hovercrafts as our supply of bitumen might be reduced . Today 96% of our roads are paved with asphalt. 4.2 million motorcycles, 132 million cars, 75 million light trucks and 7.8 million larger commercial trucks share the road space with the 250 Slalomers with 2000 boards for whom the road surface was initially intended 

So I met some people on vacation who are in the paving business and owned all the redi-mix plants in the Michigan area. They told me about the type we most commonly see which is crushed stone (or recycled asphalt) bound with tar called I-20 modified. I-20 is great when new- but the tar wears with sunlight, salt and water exposure to leave behind a rougher surface. That is why we tend to like newly paved areas.

Why we tend to like our own local slalom spots- or why "Away slalom" always seems different.
"Hot mix asphalt" is produced at local Asphalt plants and moved by dump truck to the site where it will be used. That stuff is warm enough to roast a chicken typically eaten by John Gilmour on race day wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil as it is 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The type of aggregate in the mix depends on local resources and economies.

Let's talk about the ARA series pavement. Road builders in the Rocky Mountains used crushed Basalt - the less expensive housing for snowboarders near ASPEN is in a town called BASALT. But what of Alan Sidlo?.. In Illinois, Indiana, and Alabama they mix in limestone so the pavement he is used to riding is very different than what he rides in California. That ultra fast surface at 'Da farm 2 was made of traprock as is much of southern New England. Massachusetts (Boston- Arnold Arboretum), New Hampshire (Terence's dump road and other locales), Vermont (PSR's dam road) and even Georgia (The Georgia state championships) use granite- one of the better aggregates- in part explaining why a completely unknown New Englander, Troy Smart, did so well as he did not have to adapt to the pavement…… lol.

So what makes good pavement?
The more angular the stones and the rougher the texture the more they resist rutting caused by tires wearing the surface. Round stones move around more easily and get "Smooshed" and deform more- you'll see at some stoplights where trucks may have "Dragged" pavement while braking on a hot day. (they are also more slippery in the rain) The closer to sandpaper and the less like smooth glass the better the roads survive. (better bonding). You also have to mix the right amount of asphalt with aggregate to get a nice mix- too little asphalt and the road cracks. Too much and the pavement gets too soft.

One big problem is that asphalt does not bond well with recycled asphalt as it does with new stones. So some roads may wear prematurely faster if they use a lot of recycled mix and many paving contractors readily exceed the recommended maximums for recycling as it means ….more contracts renewed faster. Mo muny.

Some roads are better if they are located near a asphalt plant as the asphalt is best when applied very hot. Some states have as many as 50 asphalt plants. On the East Coast the plants are a 30- 40 minute drive apart. So that means for the slalomers that your nearest field trip to an asphalt plant is about 30 minutes. Go there ,talk to the Asphalt plant , guys find where the newest hills are being paved and report back to this thread.

Some places use special paving machines to spread and compact the asphalt to give a smoother more grippy surface to enhance grip for harder La Costa and ABEC Stinger wheels. They spread the asphalt on top of compressed crushed stone, which lays on top of a graded well drained layer of compacted soil subsurface. Steam rollers compress the surface more to give a nice grippy tight grained finish suitable for fast technical tight slalom or high speed GS.

Highways have thicker pavement over 2 feet deep. which is supposed to last for 12-15 years before needing repaving (Yeah right- they should repave ever 3 years) Europe's roads are often over 6 feet deep. To land a 747 pavement must be very thick. A typical driveway or park path is much shallower ….typically only 2 inches of asphalt- which is why they get wavy so quickly. DO NOT MAKE A SLALOM SURFACE FOR A SKATEPARK THIS THIN.

New Asphalts engineered specifically for roads are emerging using new polymers (The road at Bienevenda near the intersection of Bienevenda and Sunset off PCH 1 in California might be one of these) these synthetic polymers are thickeners for the asphalt and improve against rutting. A smooth flexible asphalt-heavy surface is quiet- great to drive and skate on- and won't crack or break down- but is soft and ruts easily . So more polymers mixed in means you can pump up the asphalt to aggregate ratio and using more asphalts makes the roads smoother- and last longer. Adding too much aggregate to asphalt makes the roads harder- and more susceptible to cracking- though more resistant to rutting. Synthetic Polymers help extend the use of asphalt- though are more costly and usually reserved for heavily traveled roads.

What you see a lot more of nowadays is resurfacing, or "Perpetual pavement". This is "twinlay" pavement. Where you have a 8-10 inch porus bottom layer and a thin fine milled top layer. The bottom layer lasts for about 50 years (The average racing usefulness of a California slalom racer if he started at age 12 and stops racing at 62 so that is good enough). The top layer is periodically scraped off- and some gets reheated and recycled. Pavment by tonnage is the most recycled material in the USA.

Other paving materials.
In the 1960's when competitive slalom was just starting to emerge, engineers tried to recycle scrap rubber from tires (Called Crumb rubber) and use it as an effective stiffener for asphalt (thicker asphalts = more asphalt= smoother roads=more grip= faster slalom times= happier slalomers= racous parties). This crumb rubber has been used a lot in California, Arizona, and Florida (perhaps one reason why Mandarino is so quick and would do well racing in California).

New York City has Far Rockaway, NY in the Guinness Book of World Records (Believe it or not Guinness beer started that book) as the largest beer consumption place per capita in the world (Ireland take notice!- though a lot of Irish live in Far Rockaway- and there are a lot of drunk surfers at Rockaway beach) so what to do with all those used beer bottles? "Glasphalt" uses crushed recycled glass as part of the aggregate. That is why NYC roads glint at night and seem to be almost reflective. Also with NYC's unpredictable traffic the "Glasphalt" holds heat longer than stone making it possible to work with it longer and transport it further and also allow for slower NYC union laborers to pump up their hours more. It also dries faster than stone based pavement making it ideal for repaving a small stretch between rush hours! But for many places the cost of processing, transporting, and incorporating the glass for asphalt is too costly. But sadly slalomers who wish to ride this stuff at night- glasphalt offers less traction because the glass tends to align when compacted- reducing surface friction and limiting the usage for "glasphalt" to roads with speeds of 40mph or less.

I have heard about Urethanes being used for airport runways in the mix- but have yet to confirm this.

So when slalomers arrive at a spot and find they just can't ride like they do at home- it might be the surface that makes them feel out of funk. But given the numerous choices of asphalts available and the relatively small area needed for slalom- a skateboard park that wanted to make a "Slalom" optimized track would have a lot of good options available to them. No wonder the Californian's are scared to come compete in the East. LOL.

And we didn't even talk about cement and concrete………yet.

Vlad Popov
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Post by Vlad Popov » Fri Dec 06, 2002 11:20 pm

it is 5:20 PM on Friday. I just finished reading your post and can finally go to bed.
It seems like you’re stuck in the past. That was then, and this is now! Who cares how they used to make the roads?!

Some people here, at the US Federal Highway Administration, are really impressed with your knowledge. Please stop by the DC area on your way to/from Florida and make a couple of turns with us on (dare I say?) “Fresh Asphalt” (this expression turns me ON after reading your post). :smile:


Glenn S
Posts: 522
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 2:00 am

Post by Glenn S » Tue Dec 10, 2002 7:05 am

Thanks John, I needed a good laugh :lol:

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