Trying out a new terrain type with your CFMOTO ATV or side by side this month? We commend your adventurous spirit, and you’ll be well-rewarded with the experience—sand riding, or “duning” as it’s more colloquially called, is a blast, especially when dunes are involved. It almost feels a bit like surfing waves, the way you climb, descend, and climb again!

However, just like surfing, sand riding brings with it its fair share of safety concerns, challenges, and thrills that you need to familiarize yourself with before getting your feet wet. CFMOTO is here with a few hints, tips, and cautions surrounding this type of riding below.

Goggles Are Required

Of course, we recommend either these or a visor for any type of riding, and we cover why in our ATV company blog “What to Look for in a Pair of Riding Goggles.” In short, this accessory is a prerequisite for a solid time out and about because they protect your eyes from both debris and sunlight. And when you head on out to tear up the dunes, you’re sure to encounter a ton of both.

Nobody likes reliving the childhood sandbox problem of grit in the eyes, so make sure your current pair of riding goggles fit as they should before heading out (we cover that in the aforementioned blog, too) You may also want to pack an additional pair should something happen to your primary ones, just so that you don’t need to put your machine away before you’ve had your fill of fun.

Know Your Etiquette

Riding on huge, open swaths of land is a bit different from riding on the trail. While your trailside etiquette—as we covered in our ATV and side by side manufacturer blog “The Need to Know: ATV Trail Rules and Etiquette—”will serve you well in a pinch, to have the most fun and stay safe while you’re at it it’s beneficial to brush up on the unspoken rules of the dunes before you have your first outing.

Don’t Drive Perpendicular to the Hill

In other words, don’t go straight up and down the dunes, as tempting as it looks. It’s a major safety hazard, as you’re forced to face whatever is on the other side head-on, and in an ever-shifting terrain type, this can easily become something that’s unsafe to handle; you’ll learn more about the specific issues later.

Moreover, though, it’s rude! It’s hard to differentiate motor sounds and pick out how many people are riding in a nearby group when there are massive hills in the way. Heading straight up those hills can therefore result in some nasty collisions at worst and a spooked rider—which can be dangerous in and of itself—at best. Instead, when ascending a hill, do so at an angle, giving yourself plenty of time to deal with whatever’s on the other side.

Take Your Whip Flag

Whip flags are small, brightly colored triangles of material attached to the back of your machine. They help others to see you and to keep track of where you are; having one is considered good manners. If it’s windy, for example, visibility can decrease, and you’ll need the extra aid to remain conspicuous. Don’t forget one when you head out! If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even order custom-printed flags, or pick one in a color that matches your ATV or side by side’s finish.

Watch Out for Witch’s Eyes

It’s a riding hazard so insidious it even has its own nickname! Witch’s eyes are deep pits that form in the dunes thanks to the wind, and because of the nature of light and shadow, they can be nearly impossible to see if you aren’t being mindful of their potential presence. Launching into one can result in injury, and getting out of them is no easy task. Both outcomes can quickly ruin a day on the dunes, so it’s best to avoid any brushes.

This is one of the primary reasons you always take dunes at an angle. The more gradual of a descent you take, the more time you have to react to any potential problems that crop up on the other side. It’s also critical to give the rider whom you’re following a wide berth. If they jerk their machine to avoid a witch’s eye or similar hazard, you’ll have time to process and react accordingly, potentially preventing a massive pileup.

It’s All in the Finesse, Baby

Driving a CFMOTO ATV or CFMOTO Side by Side—or any UTV, really—on the dunes is all about slow accelerations and slow stops. Nobody’s saying you can’t go along at a nice clip, provided you’re following riding rules and etiquette, but trying to rev your engine is a fast track to getting stuck, thanks to the sand’s shiftable nature. If you do find yourself in a pickle, many pros recommend trying to reverse out of the pit instead of digging yourself deeper with the accelerator.

CFMOTO: Live your Best Ride

Ready to meet a machine that’s dune-ready and more? Use our online CFMOTO dealer locator to explore your options today.