Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sunny Tampa, Florida
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I'm comfortable in sand. Basically you ride it like you were climbing a flat. IOW traction is the issue so get back and low, pedal smooth and strong. You'll have to give the bike it's head a little and allow it to squirrel around a little. As long as the back wheel doesn't pass the front (it'll try) you'll be okay. You will not have complete traction, the back tire will throw sand no matter how smooth you pedal and the front will wander.
If you find that you need to dismount for the section, it might be necessary if there's a sharp turn, then make the most of any momentum and get off while you still have some speed and don't hurry to get back on before you're on solid ground. Remounting on sand is at best slow and usually hopeless.
I find no advantages in following someone else's track, but of course riding a slight angle to a rut is no good either. That's okay, because you'll find few straight ruts after anybody's gone through.
As much time as you can spend in the stuff will pay off. I ride a lot of trails here in Florida and familiarity is everything. The real rule is the same as any other aspect of the sport, momentum is the only principle of physics that is ever in a 'cross rider's favor. Try to keep it on your side.