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Riding over loose dust

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Riding over loose dust

Old 02-18-18, 11:07 AM
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gauvins
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Riding over loose dust

Last summer rinding in PEI, we encountered backroads covered with a thick layer of loose, extremely fine dust reminiscent of Australia's outback. The road was "generally passable" but there were frequent sections of deep (6cm, 2+ inches) loose dust, making it next to impossible to ride at a reasonable speed. We where riding on 2" Schwalbe's Supremes (near slicks).

We backed out and continued our trip on paved roads. Too bad because the backroads looked promising as far as scenery goes.

What should we know about riding on such a surface? Is it simply a matter of deflating our tires to increase the contact patch? Is it critical to ride on knobby tires? Does weight distribution play a large role? Is it a question of riding experience (there's a difference between feeling some kind of flop and actually losing control, so maybe it is only a matter on fighting the urge to slow down)
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Old 02-18-18, 11:32 AM
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With 2" tires and say 15 psi, your contact patch would be huge. I would have tried it. Nothing to lose. (I've ridden 37c tires on extremely course gravel, light but down an 18% grade with probably 25 psi. Worked great. A 2" tire would have nearly twice the volume so you could go much lower in pressure plus dust is very soft. I had to worry about pinch flatting on the 2" stone (gravel " I was riding and I don't think I ever got close.)

The one caveat: you would need to be carrying a decent pump or a bunch of CO2 cartridges or it would have been a long day. Once you were back on pavement, that pressure would have been like ridding through deep, very cold molasses.

Ben
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Old 02-18-18, 06:48 PM
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Key is to keep your weight as far back as possible, allowing the front wheel to float. Riding in soft stuff is not fast, but at least you can keep it under control and keep moving. Have to know when to hop off and walk.
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Old 02-19-18, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Key is to keep your weight as far back as possible, allowing the front wheel to float.
So we'd be better carrying rear panniers, right?
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Old 02-19-18, 01:12 PM
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Panniers on the rear and hang your behind off the back of the saddle.
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Old 02-19-18, 03:48 PM
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And Watch Out for Trucks...

While I don't have any further suggestions for riding technique beyond what's been suggested, I recently had a scary episode in such a dust patch nearly a mile in length in a region where large trucks were apparently transporting materials/chemicals for petroleum extraction. One truck came by at a reasonable speed, but still fast enough to raise the dust into a cloud with visibility down to a couple of feet. I could hear another truck coming, but had no way to know if it would clear me or not. Luckily it did. The next time I was alert and scurried as far off the road as I could when a third truck raised it's cloud. I still lacked any visibility but felt more secure among some bushes!

It's hard to imagine just how dense that fine dust can be once knocked up into the air.

Howard
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Old 02-20-18, 12:57 PM
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3 " tires work well for bikepacking/offroad/
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