Adventure riding instructor Bret Tkacs is back with a handful of tips on a particularly gritty topic: How do you get your bike unstuck when you’re riding in deep sand? This time, he’s brought fellow adventure riding instructors Paul Solomonson and Ben Dragoo to demonstrate a solid trio of techniques to keep in the back of your mind.
The first two techniques, as demonstrated by Solomonson and Tkacs, rely more on childhood skills than you’d probably expect. If you get your bike really stuck in some deep sand, Solomonson advises looking around to see if some parts of the sandy area look more solid than others. In plenty of cases, you may have a part that’s super deep, but also a part that’s a bit more firmly packed and easier to deal with.
If you can identify what looks like a more solid area, you can drag (using straight arms and your legs, not risking injury to your back) your bike, a little at a time, to get it out of the rut it’s in. If at any point you feel tired, Solomonson advises taking a break to regain your energy. After all, the bike isn’t going anywhere, is it? He demonstrates a strong napping technique here, and honestly, that’s some big 2023 energy right there.
Then it’s on to Tkacs’ favored method, which involves digging in the sand, smoothing it out, and making sand castles. Well, no, not really—but he is making ramps and clearing sand away, both in front of the stuck rear tire and the front tire, as well. After that, he stands the bike up, then uses just enough clutch to walk the bike (as it’s leaned against his right hip) out of the deep sand area to where he can hop on and ride away.
Finally, it’s on to Dragoo’s method. When he gets his lowered R 1200 GS truly stuck in some deep sand, so that it’s standing up because the rear wheel is really in there, he shows his preferred method for unsticking himself. He likes to use the clutch-and-leg-push method. Starting in about second gear, and from the saddle with your feet on the ground, push with your legs while using the power of the clutch and throttle to get it moving. The added oomph from your legs combined with the bike’s power should hopefully free you enough to get moving.
Then, as soon as possible, get your feet up on the foot pegs and downshift to first to ride the rest of the way out, smoothly and confidently. Obviously, all sandy situations will be a little bit different, so your application of strategy to get yourself free may be a bit different as well. There are things to take away from all three techniques, from not being afraid to take a rest when you need it, to thoroughly analyzing your specific situation to find the best solution available to you at that time.
Although all three riders were clearly here to demonstrate their own technique recommendations, none of them mentioned the possibility of asking a riding buddy to help you. If you’re in a group, of course, that may also be possible—and some riding buddies will no doubt leap into action without your even asking them to. Still, having some ideas about how to free yourself when you’re by yourself is always a good idea, even if you don’t ride alone.