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  1. #1
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    Sand Pits: Run or power through?

    just curious how you deal with the dreaded sand pits. If they are short and deep, I will pick up my bike and run it - and in fact, I always try to run on sand because I hate what it does to my drive train. Most riders I've seen will power through it on their bike - not sure what is best / more efficient.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Sand is one of the only surfaces I find it nearly impossible to ride across comfortably. (Well, except with the ridiculously balloon-like Nanos on my 29er.) I CAN'T power through it, because the rear wheel starts fishing around worse with more power applied.

    Maybe I'm doing it wrong...but sand is my nemesis on the bike.
    Good night...and good luck

  3. #3
    Senior Member Yotsko's Avatar
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    We're talking sand damaging drive trains and riding comfortably in the CROSS RACING forum?

    I don't think think of it as "powering through" as I do "blasting through". Carry as much speed as possible, get your weight over the back wheel, and try to keep your mo' going. Efficiency isn't what counts, speed is.
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  4. #4
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    By comfortably, I mean with my skill/competence. Not talking about physical comfort.
    Good night...and good luck

  5. #5
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    Keep your front wheel straight, weight back, and steer with your body, but don't stop pedaling. Don't be fussy about your line, go where the bike takes you. If you wait too long to bail, you'll be standing still in a big sandbox.

    Here is a clinic on sand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUpwT91JRTg

  6. #6
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    That was a great watch, thanks Flargle.

    I usually play it by ear. If others are going slower than I can run it, then I'm running it. We've had a couple of races with a 180 in the sand. It usually packs up on the first lap with people falling everywhere. I run around them.
    Last edited by Cynikal; 09-10-12 at 11:11 AM.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  7. #7
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I'm a big dude (215-ish) so sand is not my friend, riding or running. On a long stretch of sand, I'll usually run it without trying to ride any part of it. On short sections that aren't too deep, I can sometimes lean back and let the front wheel ride up over while the back slices through, but I'll get mired pretty bad if it's long enough that I have to pedal through much of it.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  8. #8
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    Also, If you have to run it it helps to have the Chariots of fire some in your head.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  9. #9
    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Any tire/tread preference for racing sand? Seems I have read that file tread pattern works particulrly well in sand, anyone find this true?

    At a race I did last season with a combine masters men and elite womens pack, they started us by going through about 50 yards of dry/loose beach sand. I can ride sand fairly compentently so clipped in, got a fast start and went for the holeshot to get a good line through the sand. I was leading all the other master men 1/2 way throught the sand section when suddenly 3 of the top women who had been smart enough NOT to try riding the sand from a dead stop came running past me shouldering their bikes. Lesson learned!

  10. #10
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    I wouldn't pick a good sand tire, it would suck on the rest of the course where it matters more. Just deal with the sand, it sucks for everyone.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  11. #11
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    I always run it. It gives my quads a little break, and I feel like that makes me faster overall than the bit of an advantage I get from blasting through.

    Of course 'blasting' for me might mean something different for someone with actual skill/fitness.

  12. #12
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Check out this photo set for many examples of how not to ride the sand.

    This race (in the photos) featured a long stretch of deep sand going down to the beach, a longer stretch across the beach and the a long stretch back uphill to the grass. Obviously wet, packed sand is great for riding so the beach part itself was nice. Everyone ran the uphill sand. I saw a few people who somehow shot down through the downhill section like it wasn't even slowing them down. I don't know how they did that -- maybe it was luck. Mostly, the people who rode it either fell spectacularly (usually immediately on entry from the grass) or churned slowly through it at about the same pace as the people running it or possibly a little slower.

    Two observations:

    1. The runners never fell. The riders fell often. On average, I think this gives running a big bonus.
    2. When running, you can actually pick your line and come out of the sand where you want. When riding, you go where the sand takes you. BF member aggiegrads gained a bit of an advantage by finding a place where the sand firmed up early and let him remount sooner than most of his nemeses. I missed that trick but still felt like running let me line up well with the firmest parts of the beach.


    Of course, that's somewhat specific to this particular sand configuration. I've done races in the past that went through sand traps on an old golf course or inland beach volleyball courts and with the short stretch of sand riding was definitely faster than running, even after you factor in the risk of falling.

  13. #13
    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Andy-
    The crash sequences of pictures really do a nice job demonstrating importance of keeping weight far back when making the hi-speed entry into the sand. I suspect that those riders that were able to shoot the downhill fast were able to use speed and smooth riding to plane over the sand without sinking in, much like a waterskier.

    I recenlty found a sandpit during a training session and comparison tested my tires, pressure and riding position, definitly worthwhile. I was initially under the false assumption that keeping weight somewhat balanced front-to-rear would be important for riding sand but testing definitly indicated this was wrong. Much more important to keep the front wheel lightly weighted so it does not wash-out and the extra weight on rear improves traction for power transfer to the sand. Low tire pressure was also a noticeable benefit.

  14. #14
    bf is my facebook. ljrichar's Avatar
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    The way I see it, the more speed you have going into a sand section the easier it is to ride. So if I have momentum, I ride it. If I'm already slow (uphill, out of a corner), I run it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljrichar View Post
    The way I see it, the more speed you have going into a sand section the easier it is to ride. So if I have momentum, I ride it. If I'm already slow (uphill, out of a corner), I run it.
    And even if you aren't going to ride the whole thing, you should carry your momentum going into the sandpit and bail at the right moment. Yes, there's a certain knack to it, but it will put you ahead of guys who run the entire length of it.

  16. #16
    bf is my facebook. ljrichar's Avatar
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    Just came across this clip. You can see the few who make it come in blazing, weight on back wheel w/ tons of momentum.


  17. #17
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    That guy in the Katusha kit is the perfect argument for getting good at riding sand. Look at how much time he makes up on the guys running, with less effort than them.

  18. #18
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljrichar View Post
    Just came across this clip. You can see the few who make it come in blazing, weight on back wheel w/ tons of momentum.
    That was the race I did this weekend. Most people who crashed got up laughing, but one guy in my race somehow ended up with a concussion and a separated shoulder.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    ... can you try both ways and compare times on a stopwatch?

  20. #20
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    The guy on the green bike sure gave it his all every time, too bad he went over the bars both times.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  21. #21
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I'm surprised at the number of people who stuck the landing but then managed to go over the bars a few feet later. I ran that every time this year. Last year, I tried riding it and usually ended up having to dismount (or falling over sideways) about halfway through. You definitely needed to go in fast.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    I'm surprised at the number of people who stuck the landing but then managed to go over the bars a few feet later. I ran that every time this year. Last year, I tried riding it and usually ended up having to dismount (or falling over sideways) about halfway through. You definitely needed to go in fast.
    Yea, rearward weight placement seems to be the key, as suggested above.

  23. #23
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    Get in the drops and get the weight back.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  24. #24
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Depends on the sand. Riding and failing is almost always slower than running it all in my experience. If the sand is shallow I have had good luck with scooting forward on the saddle and keeping it light on the bars (hands on the hoods).

    If it's deep I'll generally run it. I think some people get a little too carried away with the bravado of riding sand. If you can do it quickly more power to you. If people are passing you running you're doing it wrong.

    There's generally a tracked out part of the sand where people are riding, so people who choose to ride do it there. People who ride it eat it all the time. You may be awesome at riding sand but that doesn't mean the person in front of you is. You may have to work a little harder running, but you can avoid this silliness.

    I have shoulder issues, so I only shoulder the bike when absolutely necessary. Most of the time I'll run holding the bike by the stem. This works best if you're running a longer stem.

  25. #25
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Slow motion video of how not to do it:

    http://vimeo.com/49844623

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