Drive Around the World “Articulates” Value of Off-Road Land Rover Driver Training
LONGITUDE team members learn new skills, terminology and confidence - September 2003
HOLLISTER, Calif.(October 3, 2003) —“You seriously want me to straddle that rut?”
Chanda Baggarly’s question gave resonance to the thought that was on everybody’s mind when the LONGITUDE team hit the trails with Land Rover driving instructors at the Hollister Hills State Recreational Vehicle Area Sept. 15 and 16. It turns out there was no need to worry. They were in the hands of professionals.
Daphne Greene of Marin County, Calif., and Lea Magee of Monterey, Calif., put seven expedition members and four certified, pre-owned Land Rover Discovery Series II vehicles through off-road trials as part of the team’s preparations for their upcoming drive around the world. During that expedition, approximately 10-15 percent of the total 34,000 miles will be off-highway, approximately 5,000 miles
“The Royal Geographical Society 'Medicine in the Field' text lists vehicle related accidents as the most likely cause of injury, or worse, during an expedition. Vehicle-related accidents outnumber cases of malaria, snake bite, or dengue fever by leaps and bounds. I wanted the best for my team, so I went to the absolute best instructors,” said expedition leader Nick Baggarly.
The team was blown away by the Land Rovers’ ability to handle every stretch of difficult terrain they encountered, “effortlessly.” The training gave the drivers confidence in the vehicles’ capabilities, each other, and in their own driving skills.
“Land Rover’s instructors are the domain authority for this type of driving. Daphne and Lea drew from years of driving and expedition experience to teach us the skills and tips we’ll need during the next nine months,” said Baggarly. “They taught us many new concepts and reinforced behaviors and habits we must repeat or avoid. Somehow, they were able to do this without making us feel stupid--a skill in itself.”
The students took turns driving and guiding drivers over ruts, rock fields (the instructors referred to these as “marbles”), and steep sections of road. They learned how to use vehicle systems such as electronic traction control (brakes the slipping wheel(s) and sends power to wheels that still have grip, enabling the vehicle to keep moving forward) and hill descent control (uses Advanced Braking System brake circuitry to “walk” the vehicle down a steep hill at 5-7 mph) to make it through obstacles most vehicles would fail to traverse.
“With ETC and HDC, you really learn to trust the vehicle. Even though you may be perched at a 45-degree angle and have a wheel or two off the ground, you know the vehicle is taking charge and keeping you safe,” said Justin Mounts, expedition team member.
In addition to plenty of valuable “seat time”, as Greene refers to the driving, training from the pros also included tips about vehicle preservation, winching, loading and weight balancing, proper tire pressures, and other tricks of the trade. They learned that “articulation” is when uneven ground forces a vehicle to twist and contort, often forcing one or two wheels into the air, a condition the Land Rovers are built to handle with ease. They learned the proper hand and arm signals for guiding a driver through a treacherous section of track, and they learned that the person outside of the vehicle doing the guiding is really the one driving.
“The training never ceased--even an on-road drive into town for dinner yielded great advice, and, considering the important mission we are about to embark upon, we need it,” said Baggarly, who calls the training a great success. “It’s quite clear (the instructors) put a lot of thought into our journey and into the application and preservation of these four Land Rover Certified vehicles.”
The team will continue to practice the proper techniques as they make final preparations for LONGITUDE, which departs Nov. 1.
Established in 2002, with headquarters in Los Gatos California, Drive Around the World is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to inspire a sense of adventure and the tradition of exploration, encouraging people to actively learn about our world and creatively act to understand the humanitarian and environmental problems we face.
Drive Around the World press releases and electronic photos of the LONGITUDE expedition are available on-line in the pressroom section of www.drivearoundtheworld.com.