Riding off-road, there’s usually no shortage of fun obstacles to negotiate: single track, rocks, steep climbs, and everything in between can be thrown at you when on unfamiliar terrain. There’s one particular obstacle that still makes me pause, however: landslides. Sometimes, especially if the landslide is still in motion, it’s best to give up and turn back – but what if you’re hundreds of miles away from the nearest road where you can loop around it, it’s getting dark, and your destination is mere twenty miles after the washed-out road?

A Motorcyclist's Guide to Landslides

During a recent ride in Ecuador, I’ve encountered more than my fair share of unruly landslides and washouts – heavy rains, floods, and earthquakes can obliterate sections of road in a matter of minutes, especially in the mountains – and here are my lessons learned. These are the simple steps to successfully ride over a landslide:

Step 1: Walk the Landslide

You never know whether the earth has stopped moving, what’s underneath the rubble, and whether the ground is stable enough to ride over. Walk over the landslide to check if it’ll hold, and choose the best line to cross. If necessary, remove the luggage and carry it over first.

A Motorcyclist's Guide to Landslides

Step 2: Say a Prayer…

…to the motorcycling gods, your tires, or simply the ground you’re about to cover. Can’t hurt.

A Motorcyclist's Guide to Landslides

Step 3: Ride Over

Slowly but surely, ride over the wrinkled earth hugging the mountainside and not looking down. Momentum and good lines are key; if the earth begins to crumble, the throttle is friend.

Step 4: Take a Quick Nap

You’ve done a good job; now is the time for a little rest and recovery. Bike naps optional.

A Motorcyclist's Guide to Landslides

Step 5: Order a Cold One

Goes without saying. Jump into the pool with motorcycle gear on if muddy.

A Motorcyclist's Guide to Landslides


What’s your technique of riding over landslides, and when is it time to turn back?


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