MISTAKES WE SEE
We see mistakes on the trails every year, and I wanted to take the time to address a few in hopes of educating the new drivers joining our sport.
Time to hit the trails, excitement, and nerves! We have all had these emotions and lets be honest even some of the most seasoned drivers feel this as well. But now ushers in the new "wheelers" on the trail and some of the mistakes we see become a regular occurrence.
Not bashing on new drivers but no one likes to think they are new and not know what to do but we all started somewhere and let's face it, it was the bottom. I always recommend researching local clubs to your area or areas you plan on wheeling and reach out to them. They will have valuable insight into what the local trails look like firsthand and some of the things that you should prepare for. Try and grab a spot on a newbie run, running with people of similar skill allows to see other mistakes and learn from them. Also to see how each style of vehicle behaves is such valuable knowledge to have and understand.
You will see people we call "spotters" or "trail guides" on these runs and they will walk you though obstacles and rough terrain. Biggest advice I can give any new driver is listen to your spotters. A good spotter will have your best interests at heart and will tell you about things you might not see from your rig. They will tell you about the "line" they see, explain and most cases answer any questions you might have during the obstacle. That being said sometimes there's a slick root that may react poorly and put you into a situation where you need a winch or pull out! I know so many people get discouraged here and it's nothing to be ashamed of! Even some of the most diehard wheelers have had their share of being on the receiving end of a winch line more then once. Being able to safely extract your rig from these situations is where your spotter will help you out the most. A good spotter will see the best solution to extract the rig from with minimal damage, if any.
Try it in 4 low. I know a few dont feel the most comfortable in this, and might feel more comfortable in high. 4 low could be considered more aggressive at first when your foot is removed from the brake but don't let it scare you! 4 low is great for keeping a slower constant speed, where you can spend more time concentrating on driving rather then if you are maintaining a speed. Lots of other things to consider with low, such as less work on your transmission during obstacles. Less likely to see clutch burning trying to remain running. If your still not sure. Ask a trail guide to ride along during a trail run. They can show you or possibly put you into a similar rig to your own to see not only the benefits but also how the vehicles behaves differently between 4low and 4high.
I know everyone treasures their vehicles, and I mean who wouldn't at the prices they are now. But it's still a vehicle that can be replaced. Never try to stop a vehicle that's rolling away. Branches hitting the vehicle, pinstripe scratches compliments of the tree suck? Absolutely but nothing at the expense of a personal injury.
There are so many things to learn out there and endless reading sources that will do everything they can to not only prepare but possibly frighten you into not adventuring out. But try to not let those effect you and I recommend reaching out to organizations and see about newbie runs. Tag alongs. Shotgun riding. All of these things will give you an idea of how the trails are in Ontario. If venturing out without a group is more your speed take the time to join OF4WD, they are a great resource for finding trails and offer a full index of the trails we have in Ontario and some of the trail conditions you might encounter. As I have mentioned in other parts always try to wheel even with one other rig as it allows you to be able to have the support in case something awry might happen.
Happy trails everyone!