Meet At The Trailhead, And Caravan In From There

Convey Held up by Traffic
One of the cardinal rules of our hobby is that you always ride in groups. Never go off road alone. The extra vehicle(s) can be used to transport you out in case of an emergency, and can also be used for recovery and towing, even provide spare parts in a pinch.

Knowing that they intend to go with a group, many people wonder: Does it make sense to meet at the trailhead or caravan the way down?

My suggestion is to meet at or near the trailhead, and go in as a group from there.

There are a number of reasons for this.

First, you can’t coordinate your pit stops very well. The various drivers and riders need breaks at different times. Some people can withstand a couple hours on the road. Others need to pull off every 30 minutes or so. It’s not just bathroom breaks, either. Some people get a sore butt sooner than others, or simply want to grab a bite to eat.

Now factor in the gas stops for larger vehicles or those towing something. Those drivers need to pull off more frequently than others. All these factors are compounded the longer the drive is. A two-hour drive is one thing. Imagine going from El Segundo, CA to St. George, Utah. You’re talking more than 270 miles. That’s about five hours on the highway, including any stops.

Drivers aren’t always able to leave at the same time, either. Some are ready to shove off at the crack of dawn, while others may not be able to leave until noon. Still others have to work all day, so they’re looking at more like a 5:00 departure.

Another factor to consider is your speed. The guy at the back of the pack typically needs to drive 5 to 10 mph faster than the lead vehicle. This is especially true in hilly or high-traffic areas. Heavier vehicles and those towing something often slow down as they start up a hill. In heavy traffic you’re always dealing with other cars darting in and out of your lane. The trailing vehicles are constantly adjusting their speed, and have to speed up at times to make up ground.

As a result, the lead driver must make sure his speed never exceeds the posted limit, or the trailing car may find itself going way over the speed limit at times.

In addition, some vehicles get maxxed out at higher speeds, especially when forced to gear down for a hill. Others start shaking at highway speeds. It’s always best for each driver to set his or her own speed. Driving independently allows them to do that.

Finally, caravans tend to encourage a “follow the leader” mentality. The lead driver, having done all the route planning, is the one concentrating the most; the rest of the pack just follows him. Imagine what happens if the lead driver gets lost or misses a turn. Everyone is driving around like a chicken with its head cut off.

The following steps will help ensure that you and your group get to the trailhead on time and in good spirits.

1. Select a meeting place at or near the trailhead. Truck rest stops, chain restaurants, and gas stations with convenience stores are great choices. Your riders can gas up, use the restroom, and grab any last-minute provisions. Plus, the parking lot is usually large enough to accommodate several vehicles at once.

2. Provide the address—sometimes it’s just the intersections of highways X and Y—and, if possible, GPS coordinates and driving instructions. Let the other drivers find their way. Many will prefer the chance to travel at their own pace.

3. Pick a time that’s best for everyone. Poll your group, then give them enough time to make any arrangements. For longer distances some drivers will want to stop at a motel along the way. This is a good time to suggest that all drivers gas up before stopping for dinner or the night. Too many people put off that important step, only to realize the next day that they’re short on fuel. Gas up while you’re still in the mood.

Caravanning is best left for off-road driving. Let your drivers find the meeting place or trailhead on their own terms. It’ll make for a better start to your off-road adventure.


Death Valley December 23, 2009

It is time to get back into the Desert! There are still spots for the Death Valley Expedition planned for October 23rd through the 26th but time is short.

Death Valley

Register right away for Death Valley.



Easter Safari March 29, 2010


Sign up for Easter Safari March 29 – April 2, 2010 It seems a long ways away, but all the trail rides are assigned by lottery. The submission date for the lottery is somewhere about the end of January. Most hotels, RV parks and camp grounds need to be reserved this month. They are all close to being sold out.

So if you think you might want to go to the Easter Safari this year, you need to register soon at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#EJS.

Easter Safari is one of, if not the largest organized event in the United States for 4-Wheel Drive vehicles. The event runs for 9 days ending on Easter Sunday. There are no restrictions as to the manufacturer of vehicles but the vehicle needs to have high ground clearance and a 2 speed transfer case. Most days they have 8 or more trails running and on “Big” Saturday” about 28 groups will depart Moab in a huge parade of 1000 vehicle or more. Some of the trails are just above 2WD. On the other extreme, there are tails that need lockers, big tires and winches. On Thursday and Friday there is a large vendor show. There is a raffle drawing Friday night after the Boy Scout dinner. The trails and scenery in Moab, UT is spectacular. You owe it to yourself to get “your-ticket-punched” in Moab. Once you go, you will be back many times.

Our plan is to do 4 days of trails rides. That will be more than enough for the first time! So we will use the weekend before Easter to travel to Moab. Everyone is on their own but we will help with travel routes and information. Then we will run a trail each day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Monday trail has been selected to help you get accustomed to the terrain and Slickrock. On Tuesday we will increase the rating one notch and again Wednesday. Thursday we will take a day off from the trails and attend the vendor show. Friday's Trail rating will be the same as Wednesday. Friday evening you can attend the big raffle and perhaps you will walk away with a set of new tires or a winch. We will travel home on Easter Saturday and Easter (if you need more then one day).

The price is for 1 or 2 persons per vehicle. You get 4 days on trails specially selected to increase your confidence as the challenge increase. The price includes 6 nights in a hotel (double occupancy per vehicle) with a continental breakfast, swimming pool, and internet access. You get a place to leave your trailer should you tow a vehicle to Moab. It includes access to a vendor show with over 120 booths and national manufactures and a ticket for the big raffle. The price includes registration for one of our scheduled rock training class in southern California prior to Easter Safari. We will also assist you with a 121 point inspection of your vehicle a few months before departure to identify potential problems that need to be corrected and discuss upgrades. We will accompany you on the trails in Moab and assist with logistics during the week to insure you find your registration materials, arrive in the right spot on time for your trail ride, and help with any difficulties on the trails. You will receive detailed plans to help you with travel logistics and to prepare for the upcoming adventure. We will arrange rental of a brand new Jeep if you need one in Moab.

A few pictures: http://4x4training.com/images/Moab/Moabpicture.html

Check out http://4x4training.com/Adventures/EasterSafari/EJSMain.html

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#EJS


Sand Clinic December 5, 2009

Sand Clinic
If you have been waiting for the next Sand Driving Clinic, put it on your calendar for December 5th and sign up now. This day-long clinic will expose you to a variety of driving conditions and levels of difficulty. Driving on sand is challenging and different than dirt, so we’ll progress slowly as you learn the proper techniques. As your confidence grows, you will master increasingly more challenging dunes. Along the way you will be exposed to the beauty of SVRA and the thrill of the windswept dunes. This is a rare opportunity to cruise the only beach in California open to vehicles.
More details...

Register for the Sand Clinic using this link.



Winch Clinic December 11, 2009

Winch Class Example

Make plans to attend the last Winch clinic this year. This one day clinic starts with the basics. By the end of the day you will be safely rigging some complex recoveries. More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Winch


Tread Trainer Clinic January 9, 2010

Tread Class Example

There is a Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer Clinic Jan 9, 2010 We would like to encourage you to sign up for the Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer Certification Clinic. This is a one day course. There is a minimal fee of $25 to cover class materials and handouts. It requires a commitment to teaching and spreading the word about Tread Lightly! Principles and outdoor ethics. The clinic is held at the Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area near Gorman, CA.

You can find out more details on line at http://www.4x4training.com/TrainingClinics/Tread.html .

And register on line at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Tread.

You must pre-register. You do not need a vehicle for this clinic. It is about the outdoor ethic and Tread Lightly!. We will not be working on skills related to the many motorized and mechanized outdoor sports. Upon successful completion of this course, each participant will become a Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer and receive a completion certification and become eligible for benefits provided through the Tread Trainer program.

I hope to see you on the trails!

Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Make it Safe.


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Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2009, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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