Countersteer: Riding In The Sand

Not a week ago, I was barreling down a tight road in Baja comprised of deep sand at about 70 mph. I love riding in the sand. It doesn’t intimidate me, and I enjoy it. You see, I began riding off-road in southern California where the sand is deep and rocks are aplenty. To quote Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, “Oh, you think darkness sand is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark sand; I was born in it, molded by it.” I’m no pro desert racer, but I was living out fantasies of being one for the last seven days in Mexico. As I ripped through deep sandy trails, I thought back to an analogy someone once told me.

Life is a lot like riding in the sand, a great friend and mentor once told me. You have to be aggressive, yet adaptable while maintaining momentum and looking as far ahead as possible.

Deep sand sucks power from motorcycles – until you manage to carry enough momentum to begin gliding across the top of it. Like life, where you get bogged down at points that it can be tiring to continue moving forward, if you keep on the gas, you’ll be riding back on top before you know it.

Riding In The Sand

There are all sorts of prickly reminders to stay on track while riding in the desert.

Once you’ve got momentum, the more aggressive you are, the more fun you’ll have. The more throttle you’ll use. The more you’ll depend on weighting the pegs to smoothly change direction on your way through it. Though unless you can see far enough ahead, you better plan for the occasional boulder lying in your path, ready to catch you off guard and launch you into the nearest Cholla patch or giant Cardón on the side of the trail. Some of the hits we recover from smoothly and say out loud focus!, but every so often, there comes a surprise hit that’s so hard you come off or get a pinch flat. As long as you’re prepared, it’s easy to come back from these big hits, it may just take a little longer. Keeping focus is paramount.

Looking as far ahead as possible is ever important, and as you twist the throttle, it becomes even more so. At higher speeds, when you’re hard on the gas, you’ve already bought the terrain right in front of you. Don’t worry about what’s happening now. Glance off the small bumps, loft the front, and stay concentrated. Put your full focus on what lies ahead. Prepare for a change of direction, brace for rough patches, and keep an eye out for big obstacles.

Be ready to adapt, stay loose, keep momentum, be aggressive, and keep your eyes up and looking ahead, because life is just like riding in the sand.

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