Questions & Answers:
Having a brief review of feedback on social media, always a good barometer, I selected the below as my pick of the day!
'The pictures of the shale being laid at Bradford is one of the best sights seen anywhere this side of 1997. According to Steve Rees, it's proper red shale. Only the best for Odsal. And top track curator, Andy Meredith is overseeing the operation. ''
I have also read with interests 'expert views' on how a track should be laid, but didn't recognise any of the names as experienced track curators so perhaps for the layman, a few words of 'how it works'!
1. First and foremost is drainage, and Odsal has an extremely efficient Dutch drain system with pumps, some reparations have been done in servicing and cleaning the system and getting water away is key, and the efficacy of the system was thoroughly tested last month with heavy rain and deep snow and thaw - Drainage is key!
2. How you lay the track is first down to procuring the right material - and 6 months went into this. There is no exact science as the terminoligy of what is 'shale' is a misnoma as basically it is a waste by product from quarrying / extraction. At some point brick kilns were a source of bi product mixed with clay and other aggregates hence the 'redness' but most product used is either mixed with a clay content or granite percentage. Clay can come white or black. 'Red' shale has become increasingly difficult to source, one of the biggest suppliers, Breedon in Leicestershire effectively ran out as the seam became unproductive and curators have had to become more ingenuous and look at different solutions and more latterly a lot of material has been 'grey' - After looking at several types of material my experienced track man concluded that what we are using is amongst the 'best' available and with the right proportion of clay mix - All tracks are different, for example, for exclusively speedway, they can be of a lighter construction and composition however for sharing with cars as the surface may be more robust. 'Experts' try and compare the UK with the how the US build dirt tracks which is an entirely different scenario. Tracks are bigger, wider, different wheel dynamics [ F1's are not Sprint cars on wide wheels - god forbid they ever become that, tyres are currently a major issue in track wear] and most tracks are Clay based to a reasonable depth. That is because of size,shape, racing dynamics and hot temperatures typically as during the week tracks are harrowed deep and 'flooded' to hold the water and the water tyre packed in. When it rains in the US quite simply meetings are 'rained out' - UK has different dynamics, sizes and needs and bikes needs to slide and not suddenly 'grip' so comparison is odious. Picking up too much grip in the wrong place has serious consequences for a man on a bike with no brakes!
3. Every track is different as to how it is constructed and it's base - In Bradfords case, we are building a clay/shale base to be durable to around 6 inches [ deeper on the corners as you go out ] and as the tarmac itself has degraded over years, it is beneficial that is abrasive enough to 'grip' - we hope! Some tracks are built on different levels of aggregate. In this country with unpredictable weather too much depth of shale can also be an issue in wet weather and create it's own problems.
4. The first job in laying a new track is getting the material to site, a huge logistical [ and costly ] experience, haulage by far the biggest cost and, it has to come over a number of days - and then be laid. As in the update photos from Odsal, the first job is to spread the shale around as it arrives as vehicle movement to unload is a big planning consideration and for this we have two machines on site - again, not cheap, to lay it, pack it in and eventually, with the excavator fitted with a grader bar, to level it out to an even spread.
Effectively by mid next week, that is it the, initial work done to lay the track, but not the last! We had heavy rain last night and we are supremely pleased with how the material handled it. When this part finishes, between then and opening another 300 tonnes of 'lighter material' will be added to further build it up and then it will be graded back and forth to 'mix' it and tyre pack it in and that process will continue until we open and thereafter. We cannot expect perfection day one, weather is a bigger factor as is 'settling down' the track which in itself takes time. Fingers crossed it's about the 3 P's - People, Product and Process - we have attempted to get those right as part of the other P - planning!
We always welcome feedback and if any is useful and helpful and the individual has the proven 'street cred' in prep work, we will welcome them on the team, more experienced hands make light work!
Some comments have questioned why did we not paint the fence first and the direct answer to that is that it is primed and greased, it will be the last job we do to spray and paint it after all the 'mucky' work is done - It will always oxidise but at 10mm thick is not going to rust away! and the track side will for appearance require a refresh after every meeting as one of the downsides of shale!!!! Hence, one of last jobs to be done
Hope answers some feedback.