Slow and steady keeps you unstuck

It's taken the GMC Yukon about fifteen minutes just to get about a half-mile around the course at Georgian College's Auto Show 97, and I innocently ask one of the 4x4 club members what's taking so long.

"That's four-wheeling for you," he tells me as the truck climbs up the side of a huge lump of rock and dirt situated strategically in the middle of the course. "We're not shooting commercials out here.

"People go out into the woods, think they're shooting commercials, bring the truck back to the dealer and tell them 'I broke my axle,' and the dealer asks if they have a pilot's license. No? 'Then we're not going to fix your truck.'"

It's something of a wake-up call to me as I watch the trucks circle around the track, two-hundred plus horsepower, moving along at less than walking speed.

The essence of four-wheeling, I'm told, is just this. It is not about going into the woods and stomping around. It's about moving slowly, carefully, and paying attention to what's going on around you. In the fifteen minutes that I'm at the track, a Ford Expedition gets stuck, and is rescued by a tiny Suzuki Samurai.

The members of the club running the event have brought along their own vehicles, and it's an eclectic mix, running the gamut from Sidekicks and small Jeep Tjs all the way up to what is playfully called the "big blue bus," a Chevy Suburban decked out with monster-truck-sized tires, a set of fog lights and a huge winch on its front bumper.

It doesn't much matter what kind of four-by-four you drive to join the club, as different types of vehicle suit different kinds of terrain. While the TJ would be great to maneuver around obstacles on a tightly wound path, I'm told, it would be a pain to drive it along a long, straight section. No special equipment is needed, either, despite the lights, winches and big tires that surround me. If you do get stuck, there's always at least one truck on a trip that will be able to extricate you without a problem.

While it's not everyone's cup of coffee, the idea of seeing parts of the country that are unspoiled&emdash;and the challenge of passing through without wrecking said country&emdash;is certainly an intriguing one, and a great change of pace from the hustle and bustle of urban traffic and the scenery-rushing-by highway rides that most of us are accustomed to.

Getting involved is easy too. The Central Ontario Four Wheel Drive Club not only runs trailrides, but also offers rallies, camp-outs and family days. It's a "beginner friendly" club too, offering instruction and guidance to novices, even those who do not own four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Should you be interested in joining, the Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at 8:00pm. Call 416-410-4108 for more information, or visit their website at


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