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I started road riding last fall and now that spring is finally springing (aside from the occasional snow squalls earlier this week) I'm jonesing to get back on the bike. But the shoulders are still sorta dirty with gravel and winter road debris. I'm still not one to really lean aggressively into corners but I still wonder how worried I should be about losing traction should I hit a dirty spot. Any pointers or rules of thumb about how my ride will be effected by some gravel etc?
 

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Just be careful

Try to stay out of the dirt on the shoulders as much as you can, and watch for it when you're turning. If you're a decent bike handler (sounds like you have MTB experience) you can get through some loose stuff going straight, but too much in a hard turn can bring you down.

I watch for gravel especially in intersections. It often collects at a triangular spot that most of the cars just miss. If you can pick a turn line that avoids it, that's best, but if you unexpectedly find yourself aiming for a patch, try to straighten up and go through it straight, and then resume the turn. A lot of road riders deliberately spend some time riding sand or dirt roads on skinny-tire bikes just to improve bike handling. Put on some thick clothes and go practice someplace without traffic. You'll learn to fishtail a little without falling -- but you have to watch out for turning too hard.

Bottom line: if you wait for the roads to get clean, you'll miss too much good riding weather. Happy skidding!
 

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The Gimlet Eye
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I hit that triangular patch of gravel in an intersection as I was turning left. I slid through the roadway into the ditch. I managed to stay upright and did the arms up move gymnasts use at the end of a routine. Got a smile from all the motorists at the light.
 
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