So, what did I do on a hot and humid Sunday instead of sleeping through the afternoon and wake up for a nice brunch! I did something way better…I went Off-road Driving! And it was so good to be my ‘activity of the month’ (In a month, do one activity which I have never done before; about other activities over the months,later)!
Where? Palar River Bed. 100 kms past Chennai on the ECR, in vayalur.
Time spent? The whole day! How was it? Just tremendous!
With? The Terra Tigers.
Who are they? A group of chennaites who share the enthusiasm for 4*4 off-road driving!
The team: 28 of the Terra Tigers Team, and 60 member group of drivers. Terra Tigers have been at this off-road sport for 10 years now.
How did they get into off-roading? Pure love for machines and unconventional driving. While, chatting with the jolly bunch, I got to know some din’t even have a Jeep or SUV while getting started, their love for off-roading kept them coming and now as pros, they are open to training newbies. Arka, the team Head, says ‘You don’t decide to join us, We determine if you are up for it or not’. Reason being, you got to be physically fit, to withstand the cruel Chennai heat and still enjoy riding and not all can commit to letting go off their weekends. Fair enough, you see off-roading comes with a package of stupendous thrill and requirement for efforts; it needs another vehicle to pull out a stuck one, so when they head out, minimum of two vehicles need to pair up. Also, the maintenance can be quite heavy on the pocket, the repairs or replacements are not easily available. They do wish more Indian made parts were available, unfortunately there aren’t many players in the market.
The terrain was favorably muddy, as it was a river basin. I took every opportunity to jump in and experience as much as I can. Arka generously showed me amazing moves on his Jeep, it was well evident why he is called a pro. He maneuvered with so much ease, turning and climbing up and down the terrain.
Another long ride was with Saravanan, who enthusiastically educated me on the technicalities of the vehicles, the different types of tyres (long, mid, small), the protective equipments used and why they were used, the gears and how you can maneuver them and on how the driver is guided by the team by various spokes placed at various points. Did you know? The jeeps have two gearsticks, One is for 2wd/4wd mode(cool…huh), other is for manual transmission. Also did you know? Only 4 gear shifts are possible in a Jeep.
Saravanan has tried to keep his Jeep as original as possible, including deciding not to change his engine and other parts. He sure loves his Jeep, amusingly calls it ‘Karupu Siruthai’.
Arun’s Land Cruiser(first pic) was awesome, he is sure a cheery guy who keeps pepping the drivers to take different routes.
Like me, many might wonder what could be the difference between the SUVs and Jeeps, you see the SUVs give you the power to do the climb, while for Jeeps you give the power, more skill, more maneuvering. What I liked best you ask? Both! It is just tough to choose, to witness a SUVs ‘Hulky’ power is amazing and the Jeeps ‘roaring’ climb is to gawk at :D.
A Beautiful thing you notice about the Terra Tigers is that they do not abuse the sport or their machines, they say ‘you just have to guide them(the vehicle), and it will follow you wherever you lead’ and commendably their strictness for safety, be it seat belts or driving, ‘safety comes first’ is what every member would echo.
To Experience this off-road sport
‘THE PALAR CHALLENGE 2015’! THIS IS A MUST GO! The teams from various parts of the country compete against each other. You can catch the action on the second week of August. For more info and for stunning images and videos to ogle, click links below(hyperlinked).
For competition and audience participation: The Palar Challenge Page
An Enthusiast? Wanna try off-roading? Owner of a jeep or an SUV? Join them at events conducted just for it!
Enjoy Off-roading!!! Chao!