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4xForward: Take Someone Wheeling

Posted in Features on September 10, 2015
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4-wheeling is a great pastime, and a lot more people would enjoy it if given the opportunity. I recently ran the Rubicon trail and took a friend who had been off-road before but not driven off-road a lot. I put her behind the wheel of the Jeep and just told her what to do as we crawled down the trail. I could tell she was nervous. There she was in a powerful (and expensive) off-road machine on the most iconic trail in America. But by the time we got off the trail she had it under control and was ready for more. For me this is almost as much fun as driving itself.

I have been on many press events where I get put in a new 4x4 with someone from another media outlet who has never been off-road. I guess the marketing folks figure since I work for an off-road magazine I can somehow help the newbie drive, but the fact is I don't consider myself the greatest off-road driver.

I do enjoy seeing people drive off-road for the first time. For example, a while back we were running the Hells Revenge trail in Moab with new Ford Raptors, and I got to ride with some guy from the local newspaper. He had never been off-roading and was freaking out because of the giant overlooks and steep climbs, constantly asking me if I wanted to drive. I told him that I'd been on that trail more times than I could count and he should drive, but I'd give him any input he wanted. The Raptor did awesome (the darn thing has a front camera to help see trail obstacles—it's almost cheating!), the new guy did awesome, and I'm pretty sure his Honda was for sale before we got off the trail so he could upgrade to something with low range. It was great to see the amazement when he was the guy driving over big boulders and up steep rock ledges.

Now don't get me wrong. Hells Revenge is a pretty tame trail in a long-wheelbase fullsize truck with lockers and traction control, but that's because you and I are used to gnarly stuff like this. For a person who has never had the opportunity to shift into low range, pick a line across a rock-strewn dirt trail, and come out the other side unscathed, Hells Revenge is like crossing the Darian gap in a Conestoga wagon. And it's so cool to see someone realize why we "crazy off-roaders" do what we do.

Take it upon yourself to invite someone along wheeling who has never been before—a family member, a coworker, the neighbor with the BMW and polo player on his shirt. You may just convert them, and before you know it they'll be coming over to help you work on your 4x4 and asking you what rig they should buy. It's all good. We need more 4-wheelers.


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