Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sand Cycling

Once sand becomes deep, both tires can come to an abrupt stop. Tire type and bike model can help one overcome or meet the challenge of sand. Fat, knobby tires can claw into the loose earth and mountain bikes have preferable geometry to plough through it. As well, deflating the tires allows the rider to get a grip and carry on.

Alas, when I left Toronto, I had no idea we were being rerouted through an open sand desert. My bike is a touring bicycle with a steel frame for durability. I did not bring tires wider than 37 mm. Thus, the amount of energy I needed to navigate sand was huge. Often, if the track was hard enough to attain speed and distance, it would ultimately lead to a thick swath of quicksand-like substance. All one can do is get off and push. 

There are subtleties in the desert surface. In order to cross the terrain with some pace, you focus your attention on a line of soil that includes some pebbles, stones or anything solid. Once a line is established, you exploit it as long as you can. 

There will be other desert terrain on the TDA, notably in Kenya and Namibia, but they are not reputed to be as rigorous as the sands of Sudan. 

1 comment:

  1. We ride MTB's in the sand here quite a bit, and it's no fun unless it just rained - which rarely happens in the desert. It can be done, but it requires tremendous amounts of power, which isn't easy on a multi-day ride, and momentum is only your friend until it isn't your friend any longer. Hang in there, I feel for you.