If you ever ride on soft, sandy tracks you’ll find that corners tend to get very rough and sometimes those bumps will continue all the way through the turn. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.
STORY BY SHANE BOOTH | PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT BERNARD
Where you look when attacking a whooped-out sandy turn will make a huge difference to how well you get through it. Keep your eyes up and looking well through the corner and all the way out the exit. Avoid fixing your vision on any one section of the corner; if you do you’ll tend to ride to that point rather than through and out the corner. Identify the deeper whoops so you can be sure to keep the front wheel from dropping into them but don’t fix your vision on them. It’s very easy to look at the biggest whoop and worry about it but that won’t help you get past it. Make sure your eyes identify positive sections of the turn, not negative ones.
This is usually where the majority of riders feel the most awkward. Standing the whole way through a turn isn’t natural and takes some practice to get comfortable with but it’s really the only way to deal with this type of turn with any speed. It’s basically your regular central standing position that you’ll be using. Keep your head over the handlebars or just slightly behind if you need to help loft the front wheel from the top of one whoop to another. Be careful not to get your weight too far back, though, as it can cause the front end to wash and also make your front wheel come up too high as you loft it over the whoops. Squeeze the bike between your legs to help keep it tracking in line and make sure your elbows and knees are bent so you can work with the bike through the bumps. The toughest part of this technique is leaning your body with the bike while both feet are on the footpegs. If you don’t do this the bike will always try to stand up mid-turn and send you over the back of the berm, so lean your body with the bike and trust the sand to hold you.
WHEELIE THE WHOOPS
Lofting the front wheel from top to top across the rolling bumps is what you’re aiming to do when dealing with this type of turn. You really want to avoid your front wheel dropping into the deep hole between the bumps because more often than not it will result in a friendly trip over the handlebars. The key to lofting the front wheel is to not lift it too high. If you really bring the front wheel up high, one of two things generally happens: you’ll overshoot the top of the next whoop and put your front wheel down past it and in the next hole; or when the rear wheel hits the face of the next whoop it will throw the front wheel down violently. In both cases you’ll probably be kissing your front fender at the very least.
Keeping the bike driving forward in the sand is the most important thing here. Sounds obvious but if you hesitate or baulk through the turn and the bike slows the front will bury in the sand and cause you problems. Selecting the correct gear will make a difference, too — you want a gear that will keep the bike driving all the way through and out of the turn. You don’t want to hit the rev limiter halfway through the corner; if you do the front will drop in and over you go. You may need to select a higher gear and use some clutch to help the bike through the first part of the turn until you build some speed on the exit. You’ll find the clutch handy to help loft the front wheel, too, so be sure to keep one or two fingers over the lever so you’re ready to use it if necessary.