Performance enthusiasts are often perfectionists by nature. No build is ever finished or good enough. No adventure is ever tough or epic enough. On one hand, striving for perfection means that when you finally get something done, its done to the nth degree. On the other hand, theres a lot of time that goes by while youre making sure things measure up.
As the years progress, its becoming painfully obvious that life is short. Perfect moments, whether theyre vehicle- or adventure-related, are just too few and far between. Its time to get out there and wheel today. Instead of striving for perfection, try striving for excellence. If theres not enough time for excellence, strive for good enough.
Weve put together a list of poor excuses not to wheel, ways to recognize that life is short, and some legitimate reasons youll sometimes need to stay home. Carpe diem. Seize the day, for tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Excuse: My rig is still stock.
We say: As long as everything functions and your tires are in good condition, you can find some dirt to explore. Many times, you can increase ground clearance by removing stock running boards and bumper air dams. Removing unnecessary low-hanging stock trim pieces costs nothing.
Excuse: My rig isnt hardcore enough.
We say: See the previous entry. Match your build to the trail. Gain experience and thereby improve your driving skills. Good driving skills will take a mild vehicle farther up a trail than poor driving skills behind the wheel of a hardcore rig.
Excuse: There arent any hardcore trails nearby.
We say: If your idea of wheeling is Hammers or nothing, then we feel for you. Find something local! Even if its not hardcore, it can still be adventurous if its new to you. Check the Web for guidebooks or for wheeling opportunities in your area. Trails are probably closer than you think.
Excuse: Theres no event or organized run to attend.
We say: Do you really need an event? If you do, then get some buddies together and create an organized trail run of your own.
Excuse: Theres nobody else to go with.
We say: Work schedules can often clash, leaving you to decide whether to go solo or to just stay home. Theres no debate that solo wheeling is riskier than going with another vehicle. In this case, you need to either find someone else to go with (a local club, Web community, or local shop should be able to help) or figure out ways to minimize the risks while youre solo in the backcountry. Staying safe is the number one priority.
LIFE IS SHORT
When youre sitting in a high school classroom waiting for the bell to ring, life seems long. Add a decade or more of life experience and you realize life goes by quickly. Here are just a few things that can happen if you wait too long.
Trails can close. Many of you remember running (or reading about) Surprise Canyon. This was a winch-only trail in Californias Panamint Mountains, which was lost to an environmentalist lawsuit. Physical factors, such as floods and wildfires, can also close trails.
Winter will arrive. If your local trails are open year-round, you can always go snow wheeling. Land managers (such as the U.S. Forest Service) often close trails for the winter, and some dont open until June.
People move away or pass away. Yeah, kind of depressing, but its part of life just the same. Yours truly lost his dad to pancreatic cancer last year. We didnt take enough trips together, but we did take some.
There are still some bona fide reasons to stay home. Here are a few, along with suggestions about how to get over those hurdles.
Reason: No spare tire or tools to change it.
Our take: You have to be able to deal with a flat tire, period. Your spare doesnt have to be an exact match to your other tires, but it does have to be able to make you mobile again. The odds are also great that your stock jack wont cut it in the dirt. Some stock lug wrenches wont work with aftermarket wheels. Make sure youve got a spare, a worthy jack, and a functional lug wrench before you leave home.
Reason: No fire extinguisher.
Our take: A fire extinguisher is a must. If you think an extinguisher is too expensive, just think of the cost of replacing your vehicle. Make the investment.
Reason: No trail tools or recovery gear.
Our take: If you dont have a winch, at least carry a recovery strap so someone else can yank you to solid ground. A basic set of wrenches doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg.
Reason: Bad weather or wildfire.
Our take: If theres a major storm (or firestorm) in the area, its usually best to wait to wheel another day. If you get stuck or lost, others will have to put their lives on the line attempting to rescue you.
Reason: Family tension.
Our take: Taking a break for wheeling can be a great way to get away from family tension and to figure out a solution. At the same time, if your wheeling is the cause of the family tension, its best to stop and find ways to meet the needs of your significant other. And yes, taking the family wheeling can be a great way to make memories. Family dynamics are way beyond the scope of this story and this magazine. We wish we did, but unfortunately we dont have a one-size-fits-all solution to offer here.