Author: Bonnie Lake
This last year, I entered the Ladies Offroad Challenge not even knowing what I was getting myself into. In doing so, I have created a lot of new friendships and have taken a much different look at my journey in life. I initially purchased my Jeep so I could have it as a daily driver, but this has all changed after getting to know more people and attending my first W.E. Rock Event in Congress, AZ. Not only did I attend the event but had the honor to be able to judge the rock crawling event. This was so exciting, and I knew I wanted more. My husband and I have taken my Jeep out on various AZ trails but he always drives and I am his co-driver. I want More! My husband and I went to King of Hammers in February this year and I enjoyed meeting many more ladies at the Ladies Offroad Meet and Greet each morning all during the week. So this year when the Ladies Offroad Challenge came up, I entered again and became friends with even more ladies. While I did not make the top 10, I did get selected for the Ladies Wild Wheeling Weekend in AZ. While being so very excited I was also a bit apprehensive. Was my Jeep capable of making the event? Did I know enough to go on the trails? Would I be able to BE THE DRIVER and make it through the trails? I had a lot of doubts but knew in the back of my mind I had to do this. To help myself be more prepared, I attended the Ladies Offroad Convention in Colorado Springs, CO. I was able to learn general basics about off-roading, high-lift jack, auto maintenance, and welding. I also received hands on training with winching, how to change a tire, and backing up a trailer. All the information was basic and information vital while out on the trails. I am new to off-roading and enjoyed learning as much as I could to prepare myself for the Wild Wheeling Weekend.
So as the weekend came near, my husband prepared my Jeep for the event. I felt like I should have been doing the work but I ready did not know how to do much of what he was doing. Come to find out, he had a high-lift jack installed behind my spare tire, had new shocks put on the front end, swapped out the axles, rotated the tires, and installed a new AC Compressor so the AC would work. He went through what was in my tool bag and the bag with all of the winching components. I took Wednesday off so I could get ready but I did now what all I should pack. I needed to be ready for anything! So all morning I began packing what I thought I would need while on the trail like comfortable clothing, warm clothing, cool clothing, clothing for any situation. I packed trail supplies, toilet paper, white towels, cooler with frozen water bottles, flashlight, stationary light, gloves, boots, tennis shoes, hats, hair ties, sunglasses, sunscreen, lotion, and so on. I figured if I packed everything all would be ok. I knew there was nothing to be afraid of but I was. I was not feeling confident and sure did not want to be a disappointment for the rest. My mind was on overload. Audrey Byrd drove in from Nevada and parked her RV and Trailer at the house. Once she got her Jeep unloaded we were off to Mesa to meet the rest of the ladies, Charlene, and Mom. The ride to Mesa did help calm my nerves.
Waking up the Thursday morning we were off, Charlene was my co-driver! Now I started being nervous again but as Charlene always says, “You got this” and I did. While on the trail, my radiator got a hole in it. While the day did not go as planned, I did learned how to be towed back on a winding, up and down dirt road to the paved road. Part of me felt relieved because I didn’t think I was ready for the whole trail up the backway to Crown King but the other part of me was sad because my Jeep was broke. Thankfully, my husband, as usual, came to the rescue and towed my Jeep home and fixed the radiator so it would be ready for Saturday. Yeah!
Friday, I had the pleasure of co-driving with Tonya Mercer. Now this beautiful lady can drive and has an awesome rig named Offie. She has been off-roading for over 20 years. I learned so much while riding with her; she has wonderful stories about it all. So while on the trial, Offie had some issues but like Thursday, the ladies grouped together as a team and resolved the problem. We did have assistance from Andrew McLaughlin from LetzRoll Offroad Racing, who not only help analyze the situation but was an awesome tour guide of Box Canyon. To end our day we were surprised by going to LetzRoll to get some hands on training at welding. Matt Hinitt showed each of us how to mig weld and lay a bead. I really need more practice at this but did enjoy it. I am looking forward to purchasing a welder and practicing more to get better at it. Now as the day was ending, I knew the next morning we would be picking up my Jeep and we were going up the back-way to Crown King. I was now scared. I kept remembering my first ride up to Crown King 15 year ago on a quad and how scared I was then. My level of confidence was extremely low. I talked to some of the ladies and knew they were all there to support me.
Saturday was here, we picked up my Jeep and all was working great. I am following Elisa Burke and Charlene and my co-driver is Trisha McMurray. Part of me was still scared but part of me knew I could do this. I was more afraid of the unknown than anything. Once we got past the spot I had broken down on Thursday, there was no looking back. As we reached the first obstacle, I thought to myself, yes I can do this with the guidance of my co-driver/spotter. Sure enough, I walked my Jeep up the obstacle and BAM, I did it! As we continued up the trail I started remembering the different sites and the trail. This is the trail my husband and I went up 3 years ago and it is not the scary trail I went up 15 years ago on my quad. While I was a bit relieved I still was nervous about the additional obstacles. As I conquered each obstacle the more confident I felt. This was truly fun day, not scary, and I did it!
I know my journey has just begun. I do want to do more, learn more, be more capable, and definitely begin to work more on my Jeep. I have always been a very independent person but this weekend I learned to be dependent on all of the ladies and Charlene for not only guidance but moral support. So while each day did not go as planned, I know that each day was truly a learning experience for me, something I had never done before and can now say, “Yes I did it.“ I learned we all have different levels of skills and knowledge; we are all strong and when in a crisis we work together to resolve the issue and then continue on.
Because of Charlene and the Ladies Offroad Network, I have a huge smile on my face whenever asked about my Jeep and anything to do with off-roading. Thank you Charlene for the opportunity. It was amazing! My most favorite saying is, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” Richard Branson
Author: Bonnie Lake
Source: Ladies Offroad Network