Sand and gravel patches
I've owned a bike for a few years (2000 Shadow Spirit), but have barely ridden the damn thing since I moved to western NC because it has been one mechanical problem after another; it seems like every time I take it for a spin it breaks down on me. I've been letting it sit and rot for almost a year now because I'm tired of throwing time and money at something that inspires no confidence.
I've recently been on the serious search for another (sport) bike, and hope to get one over the winter (hopefully tomorrow, in fact.) There's one thing that I've noticed on my 25 minute mountain road commute in my car, however: Nearly every driveway is sand or gravel, and they all are inconveniently placed around turns. I swear the sharper the turn, the more driveways and gravel there are. This is kind of freaking me out, because most of these hazardous substances you can't see until you're halfway around a blind turn, and every time I go around them in my car I can't help but think, "God I'm glad I didn't take a bike down this road." This is incredibly unfortunate, because anyone who is familiar with the Lake Lure area knows how amazingly fun and beautiful the roads are. I'd love to commute to work in the spring and summer on a bike, but the patches are usually so bad that I'd think I'd wipe out going over them in a straight line, and certainly in a moderate lean.
I guess my question is, what do you riders in sparsely populated areas do about sand and gravel, and how bad is it in reality? Sand patches may not be as bad as I think they are, but ever since I had a low-speed low-side going through a greasy puddle on fresh tires, I've started assuming the pavement is a lot slipperier.