CLUB: OF4WD NEW­BIE RUN

4WDrive - - Contents - Words and Photos by Steve Rock

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.

Group as­sign­ment.

Stack­ing rocks.

Thumbs up!

Trail dam­age.

Eas­ier for some.

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