High & Dry

By Logan Broyles

(Published in the May 2010 issue)

With all this talk about water, it's time to dry off for a sec and see what else there is to do around this town. Don't have a beach body (lord knows I don't) but still want to get your fix riding a board in the sun? Grab your gear and head for the slopes...er, make that the dunes.

Local mountains may have lost their snow for the season, but conditions are prime year-round for a new extreme sport, sandboarding. If it sounds simple, that's because it is: all you need is some sand and a board.

"It's very similar to snowboarding, in particular to riding powder," says Lon Beale, publisher of Sandboard Magazine. "In fact, if you snowboard, surf, skate or  wakeboard, you are 90 percent there."

Standard snowboards can be used on sand, but actual sandboards offer a much smoother ride with less friction. Plus, they're cheaper than their snowbound cousins-a basic set-up including board and bindings can be found for under $100.

The absence of ski lifts makes sandboarding a great workout.

"Like with surfing, for every ride in, you have to paddle back out," Beale says. Or, in this case, climb back to the top of the dune. "This is seen as a benefit for the health conscious, as it offers a workout with an immediate pay-back. You won't find a more exciting way to tone your legs and glutes."

The best rides in SoCal can be found in the larger dunes in the desert regions of Imperial Valley, but Beale says you don't even have to leave the beach to have fun on a sandboard.

"Beach sand is actually the best to ride on, and we're seeing people riding anywhere that they can find sand banks with enough angle to let it slide," he says.

"You'd be surprised how little run you need to have a great time."

Perhaps the best thing about sandboarding is that it can be enjoyed year-round and in most weather. As Beale explains, "You don't have to wait for it-it waits for you."


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