CLUB: OF4WD NEWBIE RUN
The Ontario Federation of 4 Wheel Drive Recreationists OF4WD - is a Provincial umbrella organisation comprised of clubs and individual members. Their advocacy work for the 4x4 user goes largely unnoticed, but the volunteer board members put in thousands of unpaid hours every year to ensure that our right to access land is maintained. They tirelessly work to build relationships with other trail user groups, working together on management and maintenance programs as well as promoting safe and responsible four wheel driving at all levels, from the government to grass-roots.
For anyone who’s new to offroading, has a very limited, or no knowledge of what their vehicle is capable of, the OF4WD is the perfect place to start. They organise three newbie runs a year where members can explore the limits of their vehicle, and their nerve, in a safe and controlled offroad environment.
Forty trucks attended this year’s first newbie run at The Southwind Motel and Campground; situated in beautiful Haliburton County on 131 acres, and with fourteen kilometers of year-round bi-directional trails that range from mild to wild, Ray’s Place is a must-visit destination for the four wheel drive enthusiast and is the perfect place to practice your new-found skills.
Practice makes perfect is only true though if you’re taught correctly to begin with, and with a decade of newbie runs behind them, the OF4WD’s Chris Muir and his team of eight trail guides, have the experience and knowledge to ensure that the newbie is doing
it right the first time. And that’s important on the trail as doing it incorrectly can, and usually will result in vehicle damage, personal injury, or possibly death. None of which make for a good day out.
In reality, practice makes permanent; so how to wheel safely and correctly was the main theme of the light-hearted but comprehensive trail briefing given by Muir, who referred to The How to Offroad Guide. A twenty page booklet produced by the OF4WD and given out to all newbie-run drivers, it’s packed full of essential information covering everything from a pre-departure checklist to negotiating the trickiest of hazards, as well as reminding trail users of some good old commonsense etiquette such as “take your trash home”.
After the main briefing, the forty registered drivers were split into four groups; three left the property to explore nearby Crown Land trails while the fourth remained at the campground for their first ever, off-road experience. And after a second smaller briefing from trail guide Ski, the campground group departed for the trail head some two hundred meters away to air down.
Barely half a kilometre into the run and newbie Chris Krikorian discovered the limits of his brand new Toyota 4Runner; with only three thousand kilometres on the odometer, the distinctive metalon-rock sound indicated that the break over-angle limit had been reached. But with some carefully placed rocks, and under the guidance of an experienced spotter, Krikorian successfully negotiated the hazard damage-
free. Unfortunately, his day came to a premature end a little further down the trail when he realised that his truck wouldn’t make a three foot rock step without incurring significant damage to the front bumper.
“That’s when I knew it was time to put it in park and pick up the truck on the way back out. I think it’s important to listen to that gut-feeling and know when to back off.”
Wise words indeed and there’s absolutely no shame in backing off, especially on a newbie run. The Canadian Shield can be intimidating at times even for an experienced driver, but it can also be a great place to learn for the newbie with a sense of adventure.
One group had their endurance and teamwork tested as the run began to resemble something more like the Camel Trophy when they experienced three flat tires. Changing a tire by the roadside is a simple job, but when you’re struggling with oversize tires deep in the bush, battling mud, rocks, and bugs in high humidity, it’s a completely different scenario. Without the correct knowledge it can quickly become a major situation if it goes wrong, especially if you’re using something potentially lethal, like a high-lift jack for the first time.
It seemed like everyone learned something from the experience, made new friends, and returned safely to Southwind with their own story to tell around the evening campfire. The feeling of achievement after you’ve conquered an obstacle that would make a mountain goat think twice is special; you’ll be stressed, excited, and totally pumped as you and your vehicle accomplish things that you never thought possible.
And all while travelling at less than walking pace.
Of4wd.com #of4wd Southwindmotel.ca #southwindmotelandcampground
TRAIL GUIDES/ YEARS OFF-ROADING
Mike Thompson 10+ Angie Prince 5+ Penny Major 5+ Colin Jardine 10+ Ski 10+ Glenn Williams 5+ Adrian Collison 10+ Brian Sibbles 15+
OF4WD RESPECT POLICY
Responsibility Environment Safety Education Clean-up Teamwork
Just heading out.
Easier for some.