One of the many cool things we’ve done on this trip was taking the time out of a day’s ride to hire some dune buggies/quad bikes in the Oregon National Sand Dunes Recreation Area. This was about 80 km of sand dunes designated as a protected area from development near the southern Oregon border. The sand dunes were probably 30m high and gave us a great opportunity to have some fun and get some good ocean views at the same time. Unfortunately the helmets had no GoPro mounts and I wasn’t too keen on riding around holding the camera in the sandy conditions so we don’t have a heap of video, however we do have a few short clips to show off our amazing driving skills.
We started with the typical safety video where you’re sat down and told not to go over 15mph – this reminded me of my grandparents telling me not to go out of second gear on our quad bike at Morgan – the critical factor was not to get caught 😉 We were shown how to control the bikes and then set off with a strict time limit in place – every minute we were late back was apparently going to cost us $5.
One of the features of the safety briefing was to present a map of the area in which we were allowed. We were told that when we entered the sand dunes, it was critical that we turn around, look at the entrance and commit it to memory as everyone who forgets to do this can’t find their way out later. Naturally in our giddy excitement on seeing the first towering sand dune we failed to do this and blasted straight up the side (at well over 15mph). The layout of the area was essentially 12 large dunes in parallel with a few smaller tracks winding through the edges. The first five minutes were spent gleefully powering as quickly as we could down towards dune 12. After we got about halfway down, we decided some video was in order, so we recorded the few clips you see here.
After showing off our quickly learned prowess, we thought we’d further explore the extremities of the park. Having only taken the option of an hour long hire, we couldn’t take the buggies on the beach, but we were able to get to the other side of the dunes. The first major hilarity of the day occurred when Andy failed to scout the edge of a dune before going over, and found that instead of a gentle roll, he was actually driving over a small cliff which left the buggy precariously balanced on it’s nose. Andy made the selfless decision to save the buggy and was thrown over the handlebars, leaving me to chuckle smugly (after first checking on his good health of course!).
Buoyed by the prospect of being the only one not to fall off all day, I proceeded to lead us back along the edge of the park which instead of the wide open dunes was more of a series of narrow trails. This proved to be the most exciting part of the trip, with some hairy moments as we found some young and somewhat brash riders headed in the other direction. As Andy took the lead, my confidence was growing and I was following him quite closely around the trails. As he came around one corner we came onto some very steep and soft sand at the wrong angle, and he instinctively stopped with me in close pursuit. In a desperate attempt to avoid the damage fee, I had to speed up the hill to the right , which ended in a series of events over a few seconds that I don’t really remember clearly but ended with me deposited in the sand. As I ruefully climbed back onto my bike with sand all through my shoes and shorts, my one consolation was looking back to find Andy completely bogged in the sand, spinning his wheels furiously in an attempt to escape. Eventually he had to lift his bike out of the ditch he had created and we were able to move on, this time somewhat more carefully.
We didn’t really have any more major incidents on the way back – although Andy did have to “intentionally dismount” near the end when he was riding across the face of quite a steep dune. We did of course have trouble locating the way back to the store, although luckily we saw some riders emerge from the path at just the right time. Overall it was quite a fun activity and definitely worth both the money and the time taken out of the day’s ride.