Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Nothing causes stress like looking ahead at a long stretch of deep sugar sand. Here are some tips that will help change that stress to excitement:
“Riding in sand exaggerates everything and requires you to focus on your body position.”
Once you master riding in sand everything else becomes easier. It is the equivalent of learning car control by driving on ice. Modern motorcycles suspension can mask a host of rider mistakes but sand is the equalizer and forces you to have perfect form and balance.
How do I do that?
Lots of coaches talk about being neutral on your bike and holding the bike with your legs. Riding in sand is where the benefit of this is most clearly realized. The first thing to do is find your balance when standing up on the bike. Are your hands holding you up or can you take one hand off the handlebars? Riding in the sand requires counter intuitive things, like standing up and maintaining a decent pace. You will have much more control over the bike standing up and at a decent speed. I am not saying you should be traveling at the Dakar pace but depending on your bike size 10-30mph is the sweet spot. The front end is going to wiggle and you can make this worse by putting a death grip on the handlebars. Your hands should be stopping the wheel from turning too far right or left. This is more of a suggested than an exact line. Keeping your weight slightly biased to the rear of the bike will help keep the front end from digging in. You do not need to sit on the back of your seat with your arms stretched out and your ass hanging off the back. Your feet will be the left and right steering by weighting your right foot peg the bike will go right. The throttle should be consistent and use the clutch to slow down. Sudden on and off the throttle will cause the rear tire to spin and depending on your weighting of the pegs the back end will swing left or right. If you need to slow down, pull in the clutch while maintaining the throttle position. If you let off the throttle or hit the brakes, the front end will dig in immediately. Anticipating this proactively and adjusting your weight when you have the need to stop or break while riding in the sand.
Once you find this balance you can tackle sand with the confidence of a seasoned rider. The added benefit is that your new skill set will apply to every other circumstance you will encounter. If opportunity presents it self spend some time practicing in the sand (there is no softer place to fall). Riders of all levels sets can enhance their abilities by riding in the sand.