Forward by Chris Jones
If you weren’t able to make it to the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival this year, make sure you’re there next year. This event just keeps getting better and better. More on that in another article. What I want to highlight here is the growth of the Challenge Course. This year, Ridgeback Guide Service took complete control over the design and operation of the course and competition. It was not only more challenging and technical, but the scoring was based on the driver’s ability to maintain smooth throttle control and braking, as well as focus on their spotter. A genuine team effort was necessary to get up the hill while also scoring low. Low score is good. Think golf.
New this year was the addition of balance blocks and the NE-OVEX Inc RTI Ramp. In order to get on the course for the up hill challenge, a driver needed to score high enough on the RTI ramp and demonstrate control by getting up onto the balance blocks in 3 attempts or fewer. The course and challenges were a major highlight for many this year, both participant and spectator. And who better to hear about it from than the course designer himself, Ron Harrington II of Ridgeback Guide Service.
A Course is Born
This year Ridgeback Guide Service (RGS) had the pleasure of being fully in charge of the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival (MAOF) Trophy Challenge course. We had built the course last year with Wheelers 4X4, but this year we had complete design and execution of the course squarely on our shoulders. The Henwoods and I had discussed the vision of what we wanted course to be like and what we would do every year in the future to make improvements. For 2019, I wanted a pile of rocks and a pile of dirt. Which I guess was ambitious; I got a pile of rocks, some wooden stakes and marking paint… Budget blah blah… It wasn’t bad, though. We used the rocks to make driving more technical and our backs to dig some deeper holes for setting the rocks more firmly. The RGS team worked hard for a couple days before the event to set the course.
The 2019 course also saw the addition of some other challenges, a blocks challenge and an RTI ramp to have a vehicles flex measured and scored on. A blocks challenge is a pretty technical task as a driver must get their truck on top of the four blocks and stop once the tires are on top of them without falling off. It’s a challenge that shows a driver’s skill and control of throttle and braking. Not as easy as it sounds.
The use of an RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp was generously donated to NE-OVEX and RGS by Steve’s Jeep Country to raise money for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. A driver could test the flex of their truck on the ramp and get an official score with $5 donation. Ed from NE-OVEX did a great job handling the scoring for the RTI. The whole RGS team stepped up to make a great show for the event.
The Moment had Arrived
One of the biggest moments of the MAOF Trophy Challenge Course was it’s completion by MAOF’s first all female team. A good friend and client of mine challenged me to get a female team together to run the course, after noticing an unfortunate lack of women hitting the hill. “I have a $100 dollar donation for the food bank, if you can make it happen.” I never back down from a challenge. I thought for a moment and then picked the best off road female driver I know, my wife Bethany. I looked at her and said “Grab the Dozah we are going to make some money for charity.”
Bethany headed over to start our 2012 Jeep JKU and get to the starting line. Now, who will spot her? I turned and stared directly at Taylor Krunoch, lifted the megaphone to my mouth. She eagerly accepted the challenge. Taylor is a great driver/spotter and has been on many of the RGS trail rides out of the Main Line Overland’s NH location. They had never worked as a driver/spotter team before. Bethany and Taylor tackled the course with precision driving and excellent spotting. Everyone cheered and clapped at their triumphant exit to the course. Nice job ladies!
During the event, on the following evening, I saw the Joey2wd XJ doing the challenges to get on the course. But the owner was helping me on the course… It was Taylor behind the wheel preparing drive the challenge course… Up hill… with Bethany as her spotter. The only females to run the course were at it again, showing the boys who had the chops to get it done. Taylor drove the frameless XJ up the course with ease, while Bethany spotted her on the right track through the course. Epic run ladies! Epic!
Get Here Next Year
Next year RGS will be working diligently to improve and expand the course for. If you missed running it this year, get your rig ready to do it next August at MAOF. That means you Glen Cote!