While at Top Truck Challenge this year, we encountered more of the magic of off-roading and our fights for trail access. Hooked by a towstrap to Alex Sanders’ Top Truck buggy, we engaged him in a “land-use” tug-of-war. With our ARBs engaged, the 37s were grabbing ground and gettin’ it on! Alex got a pretty good scare as the red Jeep started to drag him backwards. But then he put his buggy in four-wheel drive and stomped the skinny pedal on his 54s. The game changed right quick for “Red,” our Land Use War Machine, who experienced reverse gravity!?>
We all came away laughing, embracing the camaraderie, the family-like spirit, and the differences that accompany our sport. We felt the “magic”—the uniqueness that brings wheelers together, no matter what life has dished out in other areas.
All this boils down to freedom—our ability to get outdoors and explore this great country of ours. Whether competing in TTC, doing some overland camping with the family, taking a scenic drive in the backcountry, or beating your junk on the Rubicon Trail, it’s about access and freedom. And it’s about our duty to keep it.
As authors, we’ve struggled for some time trying to “label” the passion, devotion, and commitment that many of us have to our motorized conveyances. We know now, that was the wrong approach. It’s not the conveyance or machine; it’s what it gives us. It’s about the freedom.
Top Truck Challenge really opened our eyes to the possibilities of our sport and how it applies to keeping trails open. Now don’t get us wrong—we don’t see the day of having 54-inch tires on our Jeep; but then again, 20 years ago, I thought my 31x10.50s were big on my trusty old ’82 CJ-7. The sport evolves; driving patterns change; and the center of gravity is up one year and down the next. TTC drove home the message that there has been a huge evolution of machines and trails, but land use and trail access have fundamentally not changed.
Our fights to keep trails open and our sport alive have continued to carry basically the same message—it’s the fight we’ve always had. People who don’t like us and don’t like our personal choice of how we enjoy our freedoms want us to park our rigs! They want to restrict us from our backcountry with their exclusionary elitist attitudes. They stereotype us with their prejudicial bias trying to make us all out as bad guys. These radical extremist closure-ists folks want us to stick to the pavement. Well, we say baloney! And not only no, but shut-the-front-door no!
Our passion in life is wheeling and all that goes with it. We love to get out there and do a little camping, fishing, hunting, relaxing, spending time with friends and family, all the while testing our rigs for capability and taking those mental notes on what mod is next. What would we have left to do if we didn’t have anywhere to take our toys and families? Would we take up underwater basketweaving, smart-phone games, and pull up the ol’ rocking chair on the deck, call it a day, and be content with that? We think not!
As we write this, our friends at T&T Customs are taking the Land-Use Jeep to the next level so we can continue to fight for our trails and our sport—for you. We have always taken pride in the facts that our Jeep does not leak fluid, it runs well, it does the job, and it sets an example. We can all do that. It is part of preserving that freedom we enjoy so much.
We also must embrace the new things in our sport: the new machines and the new crop of wheelers who don’t necessarily follow the creed of the “flattie” crowd with gravediggers. This also means setting the “land use” example and helping to deliver the message of responsible recreation across all fields of our sport. That has not changed over the years. It’s still about freedom and maintaining it.
What else can you do? Membership in 4x4 organizations and groups like BlueRibbon Coalition is your first priority. Join up! Then remember it’s about freedom, and don’t let the fight stumble because you let those freedoms disappear. You can visit websites like www.sharetrails.org for tons of suggestions about things you can do. Do your part, and do something about it today before it’s too late.
If we were to scream a message from the rooftops, we’d shout about how important it is to support the “land use/trail access” organizations that already exist and have fought so hard for your freedom to recreate however you choose. We advocate spending at least $100 a year in these organizations. Pease don’t shortchange your future.
Let’s use and support our OHV parks on private lands, but let no one tell us our entire sport is one way or the other. And let no one force us to park our rigs in the garage and tell us we can’t responsibly enjoy ourselves and our toys.
By the way, we’re not much into basketweaving.
About Del & Stacie Albright
Land-use and access advocates Del and Stacie Albright call northern California their home but travel nationally year ’round, fighting to keep outdoor sports alive and well. Del also serves as Ambassador with the BlueRibbon Coalition and as State Environmental Affairs Coordinator for the California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs. Learn more about Del and Stacie at www.http://delalbright.com and the BRC at http://www.sharetrails.org.