Dry trails can be their own type of nasty, not only for the rider but also the bike.
STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY DAMIEN ASHENHURST
RIDE TO THE CONDITIONS
The first thing you need to do when dust is an issue is accept that it is and adjust your riding to suit. If you choose to pin it with your mate and sit on his rear wheel because your ego won’t let you back off, you’re rolling the dice and the odds aren’t in your favour. As soon as you can’t see the surface you’re riding on your risk of a crash goes through the roof. Leave a gap and enjoy the ride without inhaling half the trail — your bike will appreciate the fresh air, too.
PREP YOUR BIKE
If you know you’re heading out into dry conditions, make sure you start the day with a clean and oiled air filter in your bike. Make sure the oil you have used is specific foam air-filter oil as well. Once your fresh filter is in, oil up a Chux cloth or two and place those over your air filter too. Essentially you are creating tear-offs for your air filter that you can remove at different intervals during the day to help your bike continue to breathe fresh air. Sometimes, in really dusty conditions, chain lube can just attract the fine dirt to your chain and sprocket and create a grinding paste that wears everything out. If you’re using chain lube, keep it to a bare minimum. It may even be worth taking it with you to reapply at lunch time. The other option you have is to use a lighter lube that isn’t a sticky — something like WD-40. Again, you’d probably be best of with a reapplication halfway through the day.
Goggles are great at protecting your eyes from most things but dust will find a way through when you’re in it for long periods. Eventually, the inside of your lens will as dirty as the outside and you’ll have sore eyes for days. What you can do is treat your goggles kind of like your air filter. Use a small amount of baby oil or even Vaseline on the venting foam on your goggles, across the top especially, as that’s where dust settles before working its way into your goggle. By doing this you’ll catch the majority of dust and keep it from getting inside your goggles. Make sure you don’t use any type of oil that has fumes or will damage your eyes if it ends up in them.
In dry conditions you will naturally want to consume more fluids, if nothing else just to wash your mouth out and lube up your dry dusty throat. A CamelBak is essential in these conditions so don’t head out without one, even on cooler days when you think you might be all right.
AVOID THE POWDER
As tempting as it is to smash that dry powdery berm that tends to form up in dry conditions on the outside of every turn, don’t. You can stay back and out of your mate’s dust all day but if you hammer all those dust traps you will fill your air filter in no time and you may pay the price. Remember, when you’re smashing that berm you are full throttle, so your bike is gasping for maximum oxygen right as your rear wheel causes an explosion of fine dust that totally encases the rear half of the bike, including the air box. Even with a perfectly prepared air filter, enough dust will eventually dry out your oil and can make its way through.