Rainy Sicilian Gravel Bike Trails Necessitate Proper Maintenance

In Soil Stabilization, Soil-Sement®, Unpaved Roads by Frank Elswick

One group of bikers sought out an unlikely trip — a trek up Europe’s most active volcano. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge they faced might have been the unpaved roads.

The cycling enthusiasts at XPDTN3 cater to daredevils, but one of the group’s more recent adventures might be its most daunting yet: the team embarked on a three-day trip around Mount Etna, a scenic Sicilian mountain — and Europe’s most active volcano.

While the three-mile journey offers unparalleled views of the Sicilian landscape, the rugged terrain, frequent rain, and constant volcanic activity challenge the endurance and bravery of even the most experienced riders.

The ride was a true battle against the elements, with bikers literally facing both fire and flood to summit this imposing landmark. With only more or less well-kept gravel roads underneath them, these brave cyclists braved everything the weather had in store for them — and were rewarded with the adventure of a lifetime.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

For XDPTN3 Staff Pro Mark Gasch, the biggest obstacle was not the risk of red-hot magma or volcanic ash, but the rain. Since bikes become less maneuverable as conditions grow wetter, the waterlogged gravel paths that led to Mount Etna’s summit rendered brakes practically useless and seriously reduced traction, increasing the risk of a fall or mechanical failure.

And those weren’t the only challenges that the XPDTN3 members faced: cold temperatures stiffened their hands, reducing their grips on the handlebars. The descent down Mount Etna took them through a haze of dense fog, reducing visibility throughout their return trip to the base. The unstable territory provided no shortage of surprises, either — Rider Kim van Dijk nearly fell from a retaining wall while walking past a flooded road.

Despite these hardships, the group left the experience with the highest spirits. “No one was complaining or even bothered about the weather because this beautiful landscapes gave us back so much more,” Van Dijk said.

In fact, the entire group would love to undertake the trip again in the future. And even if they can’t, they all agreed that the memories will stay with them forever.

Stabilize Your Journey

Gravel paths can challenge any biker — regardless of their skill level — and especially in adverse conditions. Keeping roads safe for cyclists and other travelers means taking a proactive approach to strengthening your unpaved surfaces and protecting them against inclement weather. With a proper soil stabilization program, a gravel road can withstand all matter of challenging elements, ensuring pleasant rides throughout the year.

With over four decades of experience in soil stabilization, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. has the experience and expertise needed to transform your gravel roads into a surface as durable as paved asphalt. Backed by decades of extensive research and development, our patented Soil-Sement® acrylic co-polymer forms a sturdy and impenetrable surface that resists wind and rain while capturing dust and other particles. Non-toxic and non-corrosive, it’s manufactured with the strictest quality control standards and independently tested for performance.

Regardless of your path’s location — whether it’s in Sicily or Saginaw — Midwest can work with you to develop a soil stabilization plan that protects and reinforces it, reducing future maintenance costs while engineering an ideal surface for travelers of all kinds.

Frank is the sales unit manager of Midwest's road construction and natural paving markets.