Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Off-road encouragement

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2015 | 10:00 AMKawain Fearon
The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder.
The Suzuki Grand Vitara.
The latest model shape RAV4.
Craig Powell of Jamaica Off Road Challenge.
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Chevy's 'Like a Rock'-themed advertising campaign sums up the perfect use and characteristics of a 4x4 vehicle. However, in Jamaica and in some parts of the world, 4x4 rides are often seen as a status symbol. Oftentimes they are 'rimmed up', polished and sitting in some urban parking lot or garage, wasting the perfect use of good suspension, shock absorbers and engine power instead of being revved out across the great hilly areas of a 'country road' and crossing rivers.

However, according to Craig Powell of Jamaica Off Road Challenge (JORC), who is co-organiser of the Jeep-sponsored Navigational Rally and Obstacle Course which takes place today in Temple Hall, his group is

trying to encourage persons with off-road vehicles to do as the name suggests and go off road, exploring the vehicle's power and the great outdoors.

"That's what we are trying to encourage and give some exposure to. We Jamaicans have all these off-road vehicles and we have nothing really to do with it. Most of them probably have never been off road. So not only are we creating an obstacle course where people can drive their 4x4s anytime, but we are using this event to encourage people to utilise them," Powell said.

He pointed out that one of the pleasures of driving a 4x4 is "on the road you own the road. You're a lot bigger than everybody else and you are up over everybody. It's a nice feeling. A lot of the off-roaders and four-wheel drive vehicles are coming with some awesome amenities, very comfortable interiors and so on."

Driving around Jamaica, some crater-sized potholes can be daunting for sedan owners; however, for 4x4s and off-road vehicles it's an easy do. "It's a pleasure driving on the road, knowing that any potholes and anything in your way is an obstacle. It's nice to drive off road, because you see something and are not sure if you can make it through and attempt it, (but) your vehicle pulls through it. It gives you a good feeling," Powell noted.

While some persons with off-roaders may be contemplating where to take their virgin outdoor drive and commune with nature, Powell suggests that novice drivers take the trail from Norbrook to Holywell National Park. "It's a beautiful trail that I have been taking from I was a boy; (it) is the back of Norbrook. They called it hill road - you can actually take that road all the way to Maryland, Peter's Rock, going right up to Holywell National Park. It's a beautiful trail for the novice off-roader," Powell said.

However, if you don't want to try it alone Powell recommends that interested persons like the Facebook page Jeep Jamaica. "Stay in touch with the group and they'll be aware of whenever we do little outings," he said of the consistent drive to discover the great off-road routes to utilise 4x4s.

Kawain.fearon@gleanerjm.com