An Off-Road Club for All
Many people ‘wheel to get away, to leave civilization behind so they can hear their own thoughts without traffic noise and a constantly ringing cell phone. But getting away and being alone are two very different things: one is a great experience of relaxation and freedom, the other is just inviting trouble.
That’s where off-roading clubs come in. They bring ‘wheelers together and go on group runs, ensuring no member ever has to ‘wheel alone. There are a lot of benefits to being part of a group, for instance …
A lot can go wrong on the trail: A vehicle can break or become stuck, an accident could occur which injures someone and there is always the possibility of simply getting lost.
‘Wheeling with a group means there is always someone there to offer up spare parts and repair wisdom, not to mention a pair of helping hands. Having more than one vehicle also means being able to use tow and snap straps to get out of a sticky situation where a winch might not cut it; and if anyone ever gets hurt, another driver can take them to the nearest hospital.
Travelling in a group is not just about having others there to help clean up the mess. It makes it more likely someone has taken that trail before and knows what to watch out for, or even knows of some hidden extras. Being in a group decreases the threat of becoming lost for the same reason.
A Better Build
Truck and Jeep fender flares, lift kits, skid plates, specialty tires, snorkels … the list is enormous. A great build has to take into account terrain, riding style, personal preference, vehicle make and model and even state laws. Because so many combinations are possible and ‘wheeling changes from region to region, getting advice from local ‘wheelers is the best way to make sure any 4×4 is built right.
Membership to an off-road club instantly opens a door to a vast pool of others’ mistakes and successes from which to learn. Additionally, it provides a couple extra pairs of hands to help put on new parts.
As an added bonus, club members often sell gently used parts to other members for a good price, or even trade or give unneeded parts away. Some clubs have exclusive pricing arrangements with dealers and shops, meaning better prices just for being a member.
Jodi Raber, secretary of Hall of Fame 4×4 in the Canton, Ohio area, recounts a time when she needed to call on her fellow group members. She and her husband traded in their fully-built Jeep for a newer vehicle and needed stock parts to prepare the Jeep for resale. “Within an hour and a half of posting on the group forum, we had every part we needed,” she says.
Events and Access
Off-road clubs are often actively involved in their community. Members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of fundraising events that both promote off-roading and help raise funds for causes that are important to them. For instance, The Misfits 4WD Club in Southern California participates in the Police Unity Tour and hold fundraisers for their important causes.
Off-road clubs may also have exclusive access to certain trails which an individual or group of friends would not be able to ride otherwise. This is because clubs raise funding and apply for riding permits for certain areas, as well as partner with businesses and sponsors to offer more options to their members.
All perks and safety concerns aside, the real reason most people join and remain members of 4×4 clubs is the companionship of a group of people with similar interests. Many club members build a strong feeling of camaraderie, even family, with each other.
“You get to be around people who share the same love of off-roading as you do … Without the backlash, ‘ugh, they’re talking about Jeeps again,’ remark from the friends who don’t off-road,” says Jodi.
If you’re interested in joining a 4×4 club in your area, a good place to start the search is your local off-roading store or an off-roading forum.
Rachel Bowes is a copywriter with 4WD