Wintertime for ATV riders in southern California means dune time! One of the most popular areas is the sandy deserts of the Imperial Sand Dunes near the town of Glamis, down by the Mexico and Arizona borders. During the summer it gets way too hot there for any recreation, but the warm breezes feel awesome in the middle of winter.
Taking the full advantage of this unique riding situation requires a few changes in riding style, as well as some mechanical modifications to your quad. We talked with dune veteran and pro racer Doug Eichner and had him explain his favorite tips and techniques. If you have the chance this winter (or in many other parts of the country, this summer) to give dune riding a try, go for it! For many ATV riders, there’s nothing else that compares.
*Riders get into the most trouble by jumping blindly off dunes without knowing what?s on the other side. Occasionally there?s these weird holes called “Witches Eyes” which can stop a quad instantly and pummel the rider. Once you know what?s on the other side, have your buddy “spot” for you by parking on the dune and giving the clear go-ahead signal.
*One of the keys to fast dune riding is keeping your momentum up. It takes an aggressive throttle as well as some fancy clutchwork to keep the revs up and your ATV driving. Fortunately, sand is a very predictable surface and allows you to pull moves which would be considered risky in the dirt. Sand is also quite forgiving to both you and your quad if you happen to turn over or fall off!
*Jumping in the sand is pretty much the same as jumping on a dirt race track. Keep your weight back, blip the throttle on take-off to keep the front end in the air, and soak up the landing with
*Veteran racer Doug Eichner regularly converts one of his racing machines into a duner. However, back at the shop extra care must be taken by occasionally cleaning the rear bearing carrier and greasing the swingarm pivot bearings and rear shock linkage. If you?re running a Pro-Trax front end, the pivot points should also be re-greased.
*The absence of rocks and trees tends to give sand dune riders so much confidence that regular safety gear such as boots, long pants and knee pads get left at home. Sure, the helmet is the single most important safety device for sand riding (it is the law at most dune areas), but boots and long pants can save you some grief, especially if there?s an accident and you happen to get pinned under a hot machine. Just think about it, and you?ll probably opt for more protection.
*Most ATV enthusiasts tour the dunes in large groups with one veteran rider leading the way. Follow the flag of the rider in front of you and you can get an idea of how steep the dropoff may be on the other side of a dune.