What to Expect on Your First Time Off-Road
Off-roading has always been a foreign concept to me. Having grown up in some of the largest cities in the world, I could never figure out why people would spend the weekend getting their cars, shoes and frankly everything muddy but as they say 'don't knock it till you've tried it' so try it was exactly what I did.
If you remember, I wrote an article titled 'What to Expect on Your First Track Day' a while back and I outlined that one can prepare for a track day by playing way too much Gran Turismo or whatever your chosen racing sim poison is but you can't really do that with off-roading unless you have that Land Rover vs Ford game on the PS2. While the buildup to my first off-road experience included me not knowing what to do, yours won't have to because I used myself as a test subject once again for your benefit. Here's what I learnt:
1- DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET MUDDY
This should really go without saying though I would've liked someone to tell me this before my first off-road experience because I was not dressed to get muddy. I wore my leather driving shoes which were unrecognizable by the end of the day. Initially I was trying to avoid mud puddles and tread carefully but after about 10 minutes of this, I decided I'm going to have to clean my shoes and wash my pants anyway so I might as well get as muddy as I can. If my mud hopping didn't give it away then my attire would've certainly reaffirmed the fact that I was a novice off-roader.
2- Drive Sensibly
I cannot stress this enough. While you can see how ending up in the sidewall on a track could possibly kill you, how could one be killed off-road? Well, there is certainly no shortage of ways! Take the hill in the picture for instance, we descended down a very steep hill and climbed an even steeper one. One wrong turn of the steering wheel and you'd be out of the ruts and in the bushes before eventually rolling your way back down. The hill doesn't look that steep in the picture but at one point, we were the closest to vertical that a vehicle could be. I kid you not! Alright, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit but make sure to listen to your instructor or the experienced off-roader in your group.
3- TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS
Your first time off-road is special for any petrolhead. I'm not usually a person who'll voluntarily drive my car with the purpose to make it as dirty as possible so I made sure to document this event well! I got to experience the wilderness in Land Rover Discoverys and Range Rover Sports with all sorts of wizardry that would do the braking for me going downhill but no matter what the car, your first time wading through water and sliding across mud is going to be fun so make sure you take heaps of pictures.
4- BUT MOST OF ALL, REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN
The first time is always special and I guarantee you'll remember this day for a long time so make sure you live the moment. Getting to drive proper off-road vehicles across some rough terrain doesn't happen everyday. Step out of your comfort zone, go and meet new people and try something new.
THANKS FOR READING! MAKE SURE YOU BUMP, COMMENT AND FOLLOW MATTHEW.
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Words and pictures by Matthew D'souza