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Off-Roading Thrills

Jarmila Jackson

Friday, May 25, 2012    

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JAMAICA has a vast array of virtually uncharted territory. For the founders of 4Real Offroading, a small group of nature-loving friends, exploring the island has evolved into an addictive thrill ride.

Wayne Reynolds, Craig Bernard and Kris DaCosta officially started the group in 2008, and since then, have taken their four-wheel drive pickups, SUVs, quads and bikes everywhere from waterfalls in St Thomas to rocky roads in St Ann.

On any given weekend, the average excursion takes them through some of the island’s most rugged terrain to test the capabilities of their 4x4 vehicles or to simply enjoy the natural wonders they lead to.

“This developed out of not only a love for the outdoors but a respect for the environment as well. We love the feeling of adventure and discovery and we’re always trying new things, finding new rivers and new trails,” Reynolds told Auto.

Having been exposed to many of Jamaica’s more remote areas from hunting and bird shooting with their fathers, Reynolds and Bernard are wired with an extensive knowledge of hidden trails as well as the best ways to navigate them. They, along with many other members of the now much larger group, have customised their own vehicles to make them better equipped to safely tackle the terain.

“We alter the vehicles so that they maintain stability and don’t topple over when we get into the more tricky spots. Having a good suspension is key, so is using parts designed to match your vehicle,” Bernard told Auto.

“Modifying your vehicle can become addictive, you’ll often find yourself wanting bigger tyres or a higher spring lift. Sometimes because of the types of places we go to, you have to get a little extreme, but you also have to be careful,” he continued.

For Reynolds’ 1989 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, some modifications done to ensure safer off-roading include 35- inch tyres, leaf springs, waterproof bucket seats, ring and pinion gears, a 6-inch suspension lift, a cut-out fender flare, a Smittybilt XRC-8000 Winch — in case the vehicle has to be pulled out of a jam — and a stinger bar on the front bumper to stop a forward rollover on a steep descent and also to protect the hood and radiator in the event of a rollover. He has, so far, customised a total of nine Wranglers for local off-roaders.

With the aid of sponsors such as Motor Sales & Service, Toyota Jamaica, Chad-Ad (Maxxis Tyres), Jamaica Broilers, and Kirdex extended off-road trips have become a popular activity among them. The group has also expressed an interest in adding a competitive element to offroading in Jamaica with events like mudding; an off-road motorsport in which the goal is to drive a vehicle through a pit of mud of a set length. Winners are determined by the distance travelled through the pit.

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