Off-road survival training from experts
You might not consider it but off-roading is a science. There's a lot more to it than just driving your four-wheel drive through some mud on the side of the road. Though for a lot of people that's the most off-the-road they'll ever dare venture. If you want to fully enjoy your off-road vehicle we recommend you sign up for one of Mahindra Adventure's training courses. Different courses have been structured to suit different skill levels - from people getting their first taste of mud to experienced off-roaders looking for specific skills to embark on adventures of their own. The best part is you don't need to own an off-roader, since the team's fleet of offroad ready vehicles are at your disposal in the 28-acre playground in Igatpuri (near Nashik) called the Off-Road Training Academy.
The new course is called the Global Explorer and the Mahindra Adventure team hopes for it to be the ultimate level of off-road preparation in terms of 4WD theory, recovery techniques and safety. The three-day itinerary started with technical explanations, handson repair demonstrations, emergency medical training and more. We took on all sorts of driving challenges, including climbing the steepest, slushiest and stickiest incline we've ever seen, that too under the darkness of night! We asked Manish Sarser, head of the academy and Selvin Jose, a good friend who's recently joined as an instructor, to give us a little respite on day two. They obliged. Except, instead of having to go up, we were staring down the edge of a ravine. Of course, we were told to drive down it then. Gulp!
I drew the short straw and had to go first - with careful guidance from Manish. It can't be stressed enough how important it is to have a spotter you trust, when off-roading. Because when the ground drops away from you, placing your wheels right means the difference between landing on your tyres, or on your roof. In fact, whether you're rock crawling, mud plugging or just bombing down trails, your line is what you should pay the most attention to. For example, I found out the hard way that you should never, ever approach a descent at an angle or switch from on/off on the brakes. Because that will make your vehicle go sideways. That being said, once you are very sideways on a non-metaphorical slippery slope, teetering on two wheels while everyone around ran for cover, what do you do?
Well, I went into self-preservation mode and just floored the throttle and the Thar magically found traction, straightened out and plowed down the slope. We were being given points for quick times so far but I think I might've earned equal points for style and worst technique ever! Unfortunately, the Colin McRae 'if in doubt, flat out' philosophy is not entirely desirable off-road.
As I found out on the next obstacle - a deeply pitted, crumbly
and all-around nasty near 45 degree incline. Mashing the throttle at the start meant the Thar revved out of its powerband half way through the incline. Careful modulation at the base of the climb meant every single newton metre of torque of the Thar’s 247 was pulling its own weight and easy work was made of the climb. Sometimes, gravity wins though. And winching out is the only way you will get back home.
So of course, next on the agenda was winching. To make things worse, we had to willingly get ourselves stuck in a mud hill, climb out the window and then winch ourselves out. The key points I was telling myself to remember were to unwind the winch cable without kinks, place the winch weight near the tow hook to prevent cable lash and not step in mud. I forgot the last part and had to walk around with heavy feet for the rest of the activities, which included building a bridge out of logs, trusting it enough to drive a Thar over it, while gathering traffic cones for points. Now, these are not necessarily skills you need in your regular off-roading jaunts but I’m told it helps prepare you for Mahindra’s own club challenges, not to mention the granddaddy of offroading events, the Rain Forest Challenge. Armed with the Global Explorer certification from Mahindra Adventure, consider yourself fully schooled for adventure.