Forgotten Coast Cycling

Beach Cycling

Vince Bishop

Many of the Forgotten Coast beaches are great for cycling. When the tide is out, there is a swath of hard-packed sand that may be several yards wide, providing a surface firm enough to support bicycles. Whether you have a single-speed beach cruiser and ride no faster than a walk, or you are a gear-head with the latest and greatest and like to cruise at 15-20 miles per hour, you can find a beach to suite you.

Preparation

Before going out on a beach ride, you need to get the bike ready. A mountain-bike is the best choice.

There are two trains of thought on bike quality. One, get a cheap bike because you are going to expose it to salt water; Two, use a good bike because they usually are made with corrosion resistant materials and will tolerate the salt water better.

Wider size tires will not dig into loose sand as much as thinner ones and knobbies will work better than street tires. Lower the air pressure in the tires to about 25 psi. Lube the chain well, but make sure all the excess is wiped off so it will not collect sand.

Check the tide tables. You do not want to start out on a ride with the tide rising. This will force you into the dryer, looser sand that is almost impossible to ride in. Damp sand is harder, so the best time is a couple of hours after a high tide.

Fill your water bottle up and slather on the sunscreen. If you plan on going some distance, you'll still need a patch kit and basic tools. Sea shells can poke right through your tire if you hit them right.

Technique

Easy...stay between the water and the soft sand. Try to pick a line that is damp but not wet. If a wave comes up and you have to make the choice of either riding through the water, or on the soft sand, pick the water. Chances are, if you get in the soft sand your tires will dig which will stop you faster than a set of good disk brakes. Expect to get a little wet. If you don't have fenders, your tires are going to fling sand up, so make sure you wear some eye protection.

Locations

My favorite place to ride is on the St. Joseph's Peninsula. You can ride all the way around the tip of the peninsula and down the bay side almost all the way to the cabins. After you get past the campground going north, you can go for miles without seeing any trace of humans. There is a good chance you'll see some of the parks deer out on the beach. Once you round the tip, the beach is not as wide on the bay side so make sure you time it so you are going down that stretch at low tide. If you start off at the Trading Post, the trip around the peninsula is about 23 miles.

Post Ride

When you are through with your ride, make sure you rinse your bike off real good and relube the chain and any other moving mechanical parts.

Contribute

If you know of any other great places for beach cycling, please let us know. You can contact us at