Wild Winter Wheeling at Windrock OHV Area

    Slipping & Sliding in Tennessee

    Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

    Winter elicits different responses in different parts of the country. In some areas the 4x4s get put away when they start salting the roads, while others bust out their insulated Carhartts and goggles and wheel all through the winter. “We started going to Tellico in January years ago to avoid the crowds,” Keith Bailey says. And thus, Wild Winter Wheeling was born.

    This is just an excuse to spend time with friends and have some fun

    Tellico has since joined the troubling list of areas closed to off-road recreation, but that didn’t stop Bailey or his customers at Off Road Connection in Birmingham, Alabama, from getting together every winter. “Some years it is bigger, and some years it is smaller,” says Bailey. “Really, this is just an excuse to spend time with friends and have some fun.”

    We tagged along this year when the group went to Windrock OHV Area in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. There was snow on the ground when we arrived, but that didn’t keep the crowds away. There were Jeeps, hill climbers, rock bouncers, and side-by-sides crawling over the miles of trails Windrock offers. Sloppy conditions meant that everyone was mashing the gas and stretching the rods in their engines in an attempt at forward progress.

    Next time the snow flies, don’t put your 4x4 away for the winter. Round up your friends and plan your own Wild Winter Wheeling.

    This was the maiden voyage for Michael Vest’s Bruiser buggy, and it performed admirably. He claimed that the Iroks are old and hard, but we think that was just an excuse to bounce the 5.3L engine off the rev limiter.