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How to survive riding through roadworks


No matter where you travel, Iit is inevitable that you will come to roadworks where there is some gravel, which could be dangerous for road bikes.

While the construction crew should provide a safe alternate route for ALL road users, including motorcycles, this isn’t always the case.

I’ve had to ride sports bikes through loose ungraded road base, a massive cruiser through slippery graded clay and a scooter over freshly watered gravel, because there has been no alternative route to the roadworks.

It can be done, but it is a daunting prospect for many road riders who have never ridden off road before and don’t have the necessary skills.

Roadworks speed limit - potholes

So here are 10 things you can do to ensure you get through roadworks without dropping your bike.

  1. Breathe. You will get through this, but first you have to breathe deeply, relax your shoulders and handlebar grip, and don’t get too stressed. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you will overreact to any bike movements. It’s important to let the bike squirrel around a little bit.
  2. Stand up, if you can. This might not be possible on all bikes, but if you can stand, it will do a number of things to make the bike more controllable and you less nervous. Check out our article on standing up.
  3. Leave a gap. If you are in a conga line of traffic, don’t tailgate. Leave a fair gap to the motorist in front and if you are being followed closely by a vehicle, turn around and ask them to back off while you get through or they could run over you if you do drop the bike.
  4. Be smooth. Accelerate, change gears, brake and steer smoothly. Sharp inputs can have drastic effects.
  5. Don’t paddle. Keep your feet on the footpegs. This gives you more control. Paddling with your feet will only slow you down and may not prevent you from falling, anyhow.
  6. Look ahead. Don’t look down or that’s where you will end up. Keep an eye ahead so your bike goes where you are looking. It also helps you identify any obstacles such as ruts, mud or deep gravel/sand.
  7. Accelerate. Ride into the roadworks very slowly so you can gradually increase your speed without having to touch your brakes. By applying a bit of throttle through the roadworks, you control the bike though the back wheel and keep pressure off the front, preventing it from tucking under.
  8. Don’t brake. Only if absolutely necessary, should you apply the brake. And then, it should be smooth and mainly rear brake.
  9. Turn slowly. If the roadworks goes around a corner, you will have to turn, but try to make a big arc through the corner by staying in the outside wheel track.
  10. Pick a wheel track. Even if you go around a corner and need to arc out the angle a bit, try not to get out of the wheel tracks as these are drier and firmer.

Once you’ve mastered roadworks, you shouldn’t be daunted when the road gets wet or turns to gravel for a short stretch as these same rules can be applied to any slippery surface.

Heading into unknown roadworks conditions