Sports Law • Risk Management

May 9, 2011: Bike Riding in the Sand

Have you ever taken your two-wheeled bicycle to the beach and ridden your bike on the sand? This recently was a first for me and it was an experience that was exhilarating yet challenging. My adventure, though, was made more complex because I expended a lot of energy dodging people, waves and debris. Despite the joy of the activity, I could not help but reflect on ways to minimize the risks associated with my ride, and ultimately making the activity more enjoyable.

Helmet protection. Certainly wearing a helmet is always a good idea. Even though sand might provide a better cushion on which to land, on your way down your head could strike your bike, rocks, washed up logs, other people or their hard-surfaced belongings, like umbrellas and coolers. Ouch. A head injury can and should be prevented.

Proper clothing. It is imperative to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and clothes help protect your skin from the sun’s harsh glare. Additionally, clothing should be fitted so that baggy clothing does not get caught in the spokes of the wheel or in the bike chain. But, too little clothing coverage might create friction, thus rubbing your skin rubbing and causing irritation. Improper clothing can make your ride uncomfortable.

Location. When choosing a beach on which to cycle, pick a beach that does not allow dogs. Unleashed, or even leashed dogs may be unpredictable and cause you to crash. Also, to avoid a fine, check to ensure that bikes are permitted on the beach before finding out the hard way. Furthermore, pick a location that has a wide beach so you have plenty of room to navigate your bicycle. The most stable surface on which to ride is the smooth, harder packed sand down by the water’s edge. Therefore, you may want to walk to the water’s edge before mounting your bike. Choosing the best location can make or break your experience.

Timing. Plan your beach bike ride for when the tide is out. This ensures the sand by the water’s edge is more stable since much of the water has had time to drain away from the shoreline. For the best experience, you should also plan to hit the beach at a time when it is less likely to be crowded with other people walking, running and bike-riding. Proper timing is another key to ensuring that your exercise is also enjoyable.

If you have not yet experienced a bicycle ride on a sandy beach, you should consider partaking in the adventure. Just remember to plan ahead to make the experience safer and more enjoyable.