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  1. #1
    Justin scattered73's Avatar
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    Riding through beach sand or fine deep sand.

    I have had a difficult time riding through this. I have recently found that putting weight on the back wheel and pedaling like there is no tomorrow seems to be the best, but steering when I do this is not perfect. What do you guys do on this type of terrain?

  2. #2
    M_S
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    That sounds about right. There's a lot of similarities between sand and deep powdery snow. And like snow I find it easiest if the tread is unbroken: less stuff for my wheels to bounce around on. I have trouble relaxing my arms, but obviously getting a rigid upper body is the last thing you want. It's on terrain like that that I always long for a much more relaxed fit: over the back wheel, with a shorter stem, higher bars, etecetera.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I walk the bike right down to the edge of the wave line and ride along the wet packed sand. The wet salty sand raised heck with the bike but it was a rental. I had a friend in SoCal who rigged his bike with extremely wide dropouts front and rear, laced rims together so he could run two fat MTB tires side by side, and added a 5 to 1 reduction jack shaft on his welded on rear rack. He had no problem riding in loose dry sand on the local beaches. With that gearing he also went up Fargo Street (35% grade) pulling his son in a trailer. He was going up at about 1 MPH but with the double wide tires he had no trouble balancing.
    This space open

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    Hey Justin,

    It's my first post here, but I have plenty of experience riding thru deep sand. A couple of tricks to it. First, get back on your seat with most of your weight back.

    For the front end:
    Ride with your hands on the tops of your bars (not in the drops--helps keep your weight back) and let the bars go loosey-goosey in your hands. Let the front end track mostly on its own. If you try to steer with a heavy hand the front end will just wash out on you.

    For the back end:
    Pedal in a medium cadence gear with steady, moderate pressure to the pedals. If you pedal too hard or are in a too-low gear giving too much power to the rear wheels, you'll break traction and you'll just stop.
    If you start digging in the back end, try leaning forward a bit...it can help the rear end come up thru the sand while you keep pedalling

    Turning:
    Keep weight back. Turn in early and turn slow and steady or you'll wash out the front end.

    Stopping:
    Keep weight really back. Keep off the front brake or (you guessed it) you'll wash out the front.

    I hope this helps.
    Steve

  5. #5
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    All good tips above. I used to look down at my front wheel and overcorrect. I learned to look out about 20 feet and let my body react to shifts in the sand not my head.

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    Not contradicting the previous posts, just adding: you need to go into a sand section with a devil-may-care attitude, essentially point your bike in the right direction and hope for the best. If you try to "pick your line", you'll fail. Yes, you have to burn matches to get through these sections. Pump those legs.

  7. #7
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like a good application for some of those fine Huffy mountain bikes.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Not contradicting the previous posts, just adding: you need to go into a sand section with a devil-may-care attitude, essentially point your bike in the right direction and hope for the best. If you try to "pick your line", you'll fail. Yes, you have to burn matches to get through these sections. Pump those legs.
    On short sections, I agree that blasting through as fast as possible is a good strategy, as long as you can see the end of the sand and you think you can make it through it before you run out of steam. My previous post related to longer sections and steady sand riding, although the part of keeping your weight back still applies to blasting through a short bit of sand.

  9. #9
    M_S
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    Another (obvious?) thing to point out is that sand is REALLY destructive to drivetrains and rims (if you have rim brakes. If I try and brake after going through sand I get a horrible grating sound, and little scratches form on the rims. I don't want to wear things out more quickly than I have to, so I'd tend to just portage through sand.

  10. #10
    antisocialite dirtyphotons's Avatar
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    steve already said this but it bears repeating. low gears are your enemy, i always try and hit sand and gravel in the big ring (when i can).
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.

  11. #11
    4 letter tirade
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    also, don"t look down, keep your head up looking straight through to the end.....

  12. #12
    Justin scattered73's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips, I got some new cross tires with more aggressive tread coming in today, hopefully with some new tips and tires I can master this terrain.

  13. #13
    4 letter tirade
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    it sucks because it is messy and not so great for the bike, but practice is really key. Don't be intimidated, hit it fast, weight back, head up and go...the best thing is, once you get the hang of it and enjoy it and can ride through them, they are always crowd pleasers and will get you cheers

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    Just to add one last bit:
    Anticipation is key. If you see some sand coming up, peg it before so you can hit the sand as fast as possible with weight back. That'll give you some distance of "float" over the sand and in short sections you can float right thru it. I know this is not exactly supported by the laws of physics and particle dynamics, but once you feel it, you'll know what I mean.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jimisnowhere's Avatar
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    I don't have any deep sand experience, but it seems like it would be like deep snow. Perhaps now (winter)would be the time to train this and minimize wear on your bike?
    I can ride the solarcycle with no hands.

  16. #16
    Justin scattered73's Avatar
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    So is sand and mud really bad on the bike? I almost always clean the brake pads and rims and drive train after each messy ride.

  17. #17
    So I says to Mable I says somnambulant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cardstock View Post
    they are always crowd pleasers and will get you cheers
    Totally.. I got some great cheers when I just put the pedal to the metal and bombed through the beach section at our New Year's Eve race. Unfortunately in a momentary loss of concentration on the last lap I had my weight too far forward and hit a buried rock or something and totally got launched over the bars. turns out sand actually is almost pleasant to land in. I had been chasing a guy down for most of that lap trying to find an opportunity to pass, and I was pretty smoked already, which is probably what lead to my flight. My arms were totally jello. Thankfully it was a muddy course and my Michelin Muds saved my ass.. in the last 1/4 of the last lap, in a slick off camber section I managed to catch the guy and pass him as he was coasting/sliding along the hill.

    I'm definitely with the other folks who suggested going in as fast as you can, even if it's a long section, at least the first 20' or so will feel a little easier. Just make sure you expect the sudden drag from the sand and have you weight back already before you get in there.

    On the first few laps you can sometimes find a less chewed up area to ride through as well, which I find beneficial. When there aren't too many other tire ruts crossing your path I find the bike tends to track a lot straighter.
    -Milpool

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