Riding sand dunes on your dirt bike or ATV might just be the most entertaining and fun adventure you can experience on wheels. It may also be the most dangerous.
You may think dune riding is safer since a crash or fall on the sand offers a lot more cushion than the track or trail. True - in some ways it is softer though hitting the ground at high speeds is going to hurt no matter what you fall on. The much bigger concern when riding in the sand dunes is crashing into another rider. So is getting lost.
The sand dunes give riders a natural ever-changing roller coaster landscape. High reaching peaks and low level valleys give thrill-seekers a heart-racing and stomach clenching rush. Everyday can be different as the winds that form the dunes create new ones every day. It's also these high peaks and low valleys that pose the most danger to even the most experienced rider.
Safety and preparation is an absolute must when riding the sand dunes. In this guide to safely riding the sand dunes we cover:
If you think riding gear is unnecessary because you're on sand, think again. At high speeds sand can be just as hard as regular dirt ground. Plus, the geography of sand dunes provides natural hiding spots. You may have no idea who is coming up the opposite side of the dune you're scaling. Riding in to or getting hit by another rider is not necessarily common but it certainly is not rare. If it happens you'll have little time to react and without protection your chances of walking away unscathed drop dramatically.
When riding the sand dunes, wear the same gear you'd wear on the track or trail.
The safety flag is probably your second most important piece of gear but it attaches to your dirt bike or ATV. Most dune parks require the flag anyway so if you're planning a day riding on the sand bring a safety flag. These flags measure about eight-feet high and look just like the ones you may have attached to your BMX as a kid.
Safety flags are the best way to be spotted and to spot other riders in your vicinity so you and other riders know to steer away from each other.
The joy of riding sand dunes is the freedom to ride wherever. There are no set trails or a lap track that goes round and round. Gas up, get on and ride, right? Not so fast.
To safely ride the dunes, map out a specific area in which to ride and place a spotter - a member of your riding party - at or near the highest dune in your vicinity to be the look-out for other riders. Not everyone follows the same rules or safety measure therefore it's up to you to be safe. Your spotter can alert you to other riders in the area, and vice versa, so you can get out of the way and avoid costly and even deadly collisions.
Don't Ride Alone
The old adage "safety in numbers" is never more true than sand dune riding. Yes, you can get lost. Riding alone in sand dunes is a quick trip to the Twilight Zone. After a while everything looks the same and that sand dune up ahead is not the one where you set up camp. Nor is the one after that or after that. Before long, you'll get disoriented and then the sun starts setting and you could be miles from nowhere with a gas tank running low.
Ride with friends and stay in an agreed upon designated area. Also, check the weather. A sand storm is the last thing you want to get caught in plus it changes the geography of the area and you'll have no idea where or how you got to your current location. You might even think about bringing a GPS tracking device like what skiers and mountain climbers use that emits a beacon rescue personnel can detect.
Be safe and plan ahead whenever and wherever you ride but take special precautions when riding sand dunes. Now that you're prepared, get your bike or ATV ready to go and check out How To Prep Your Dirt Bike For The Sand Dunes and How To Prep Your ATV For The Sand Dunes.Back to Top
Written By: AndrewT