Newbie Lessons Learned

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Real Name: Brian Williams
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Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by pa30crewchief » Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:02 pm

I am new to off-roading in the desert. I got into this pastime only after I bought a lightly used 1998 Mercedes Gelandewagen G320 earlier this year mostly because it looked tough enough for Dubai speedbumps.

Watching youtubes about the Gelandewagen I realized what a formidable offroader it is and after restoring its difflock system with some new parts I signed up to Dubai Offroaders for a couple of drives and an overnight. My G Wagon has been a revelation off-road and is more capable than I ever expected.

That said, I have seen good drivers do amazing with average vehicles so although there are definitely some vehicles I would personally avoid I have learned enough already to respect the driver more than the vehicle. There are also amazing vehicles with amazing drivers who do things on the dunes I never imagined could be done!

Here’s what I have learned as a Newbie in the few drives I have completed with DO in 2018:

The GOOD! :D :
• The drives are super fun and well organized. Marshals are there to assist with advice and importantly with extractions when vehicles get stuck.
• Overnight camping trips are absolutely why you are doing this. A campfire in the evening desert chill with new friends (or old friends!) is way cooler than a restaurant dinner.
• The desert itself; the shape, color and pattern of the dunes, the hardy shrubs and grasses, the tracks of foxes and antelope, the way the wind blows across a crest. Its quite magnificent.
• Safety is taken seriously, which I am very happy about. Flags and radios are mandatory for a reason.
• You will learn how to use your equipment…especially on modern vehicles the traction control on sand may be electronic; read the manual so you understand what is “normal”.
• Deflating tires to 14psi or even lower (or as recommended for your vehicle) transforms the traction on sand. A pressure gage is vital equipment.
• Learn to use momentum (not power) to stay moving; this is not overspeeding but keeping a consistent pace that is just fast enough on soft sand to avoid bogging down. For heavier and underpowered SUVs like my old G320 and for all manual transmission vehicles, momentum is the key to off-roading nirvana. I learned a lot driving behind a Marshal with a manual transmission.
• When bogged down use gravity and reverse and steering to attempt a self recovery. If you have them, use diff locker and/or lowrange.
• Spacing; give the guy ahead of you room so he can clear obstacles, and if he/she does get stuck he will have space for a recovery. Also give him/her room so you can keep your distance to build enough momentum through the obstacle.

The NOT SO GOOD! :p :
• Newbies especially, KNOW YOUR APPROACH AND DEPARTURE ANGLES. For desert driving anticipate serious damage to your bumpers if the approach and departure angle is less than approx. 35 degrees. In just the few drives I have driven the carnage I have witnessed to plastic bumpers on Newbie cars has been eyewatering. This is not only expensive to the owners but its also disruptive to the convoy when bumpers etc. are ripped from the car.
• Ditto for tow points; make sure your hitch and tow points are accessible and are rated for the weight of the vehicle.

The AWKWARD :-s :
• The number of recoveries on an afternoon newbie drive can take hours. Newbies who misunderstand momentum or are in unsuitable vehicles seem to suffer the most. Its not fun for the Newbie who gets stuck over and over again, and it detracts from the fun for the rest of the convoy.
• The DO ranking system (Newbie/ Fewbie/ 1 star etc.) isn’t very transparent to Newbies, at least not to this one! For Newbies sincere about learning new skills to being a safe and consistent driver what are the skills and how is mastery demonstrated? Where are evaluations recorded?

The UGLY! :ymsick: :
• On an overnight camping trip please clean up the camp. This should be second nature by now.
• Did you know that Nescafe Gold has only 3% actual coffee??!! (read the fineprint on the label, it says it right there!).

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Re: Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by Aneez » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:13 am

Very good write-up and feedback. I would only like to point out 1 thing in the "Awkward"....Its fun to get stuck and to recover even if it takes hours. Its a very good learning experience for everyone. Only when u get stuck that u think why it happened, how to get out of it and how not to get into it. Also, u understand your car better and your own driving skills better. It keeps u thinking even after the drive how you can change your style of driving. And the most important thing, it changes your personality. It makes you calm and you can face embarrassments and humiliations more easily and in even in day to day life :)) :))
For the person who recovers you also there is learning. He is improving on his recovery skills. When u get more advanced you will understand that even recoveries need learning and experience. So, the person recovering you is also constantly learning. There are too many aspects to that as well. The angle, the approach, whether to pull from the front or back, whether to pull at an angle, how much force, whether to give a gently pull or a jerk etc etc.

Anyway it was nice reading and it brought back the memories that used to go through my mind when I started off-roading..

Faizan khan
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Re: Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by Faizan khan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:01 am

Thanks Bernardo,Abdullah and Pervez bro and others marshal for organising a very professionally and very smooth drive had a lot of fun on the go... Thank you everyone for making this drive happen!

Will look forward to see you guys for next drive!!!

Faizan khan!

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Re: Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by topgear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:54 pm

Interesting... I am excited to do my first newbie drive. I hope there will be one tomorrow.

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Re: Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by andrileith » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:58 pm

Good read and feedback. Thanks Brian

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Re: Newbie Lessons Learned

Post by Ericminco » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:19 am

Great read Brian, hope to see you in the sand soon!

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