Author: Jessica Greenland
“Hello everybody this is Charlene Bower, Ladies Offroad Challenge”
I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath while Charlene was on Facebook Live, announcing the finalists for the 2017 Ladies Offroad Challenge. When she called my name as a competitor for Fury Rode, I jumped out of my chair and started to bounce up and down doing my happy dance! David walked in the door at that time with a look of “what the heck are you doing,” before he said the words.
In that moment I felt accomplished; Charlene chose me to go to Sand Hollow, Utah with her as her co-driver. I had been chosen; me, I was good enough. I don’t always feel good enough, but this year I took a chance and signed up for the Ladies Offroad Challenge. I had made it. Being chosen for Top 10 Training Weekend was a win, not only for me but for other awesome ladies whom I got the pleasure to meet and bond with. They are my friends, my confidants and most of all my sisters! In 2017 I learned a lot about myself and found myself again. Then I took a breath, and all the thoughts that came on what I needed to do to prepare for my journey to Fury Rode.
Fast Forward to November; the time to get my flight and trip to Sand Hollow was near. It was decided that I was to fly to San Diego and meet up with Kristin and drive to Utah. I was excited that I would get to spend time with my daughter in San Diego for the evening, and the next morning meet with Kristin to start our road trip.
Kristin and I had a lot to catch up on since we last saw each other as well as prepare for our adventure. I was glad to get to spend some time with Kristin, plus I had never driven through that part of the country, so there was a lot to see! The cold and wind chill was brutal though; I wasn't expecting it to be that cold in California.
We met up with Charlene right outside Las Vegas for our first Facebook Live video from Kristin’s car. (I am not very good at doing live videos, especially for 30 minutes!) We managed to pull it off, and had a good time doing it too.
Kristin and I were excited to meet up with Melissa next. We arrived in Hurricane and made a quick stop at Walmart to grab our dinner for the evening (gourmet pizza), as pulled up to our humble abode, we saw that Melissa was there waiting on us to assist her in parking her huge trailer and Red Roxx. Afterwards we sat down, caught up, and made plans for the next day!
Zion National Park was on the agenda for the following day. Who doesn't like a beautiful hike in the mountains and PB&J picnic with beautiful scenery? I have never been to Utah, so getting to go to Mt. Zion was breathtaking, serene, and magical. It was fun to learn about the history and exciting to see all the wild life. There were mountain climbers dangling on the sides of the straight up walls of Mt. Zion. The virgin river ran through the hollows trail, and we sat in complete zen! Melissa even sat on top of a huge boulder in meditation, it was so surreal. The red sand is beautiful to see and all the rock formations seem ready to be climbed.
Melissa told us about a 1488 ft rock formation at Zion called Angels Landing which you can hike. The hike is 2.4 miles one way. This is not a hike for you if you are afraid of heights. We also saw the Checkerboard Mesa and the Great White Throne Mountain from the Weeping Rock Trail. We had to dodge some icicles from the lookout spot. Before we left, we made a trip to the visitors center and explored all the information they had to offer, as well as the gift shop.
That evening we had a meet and Greet at the movies! Dust 2 Glory premiere was awesome as we got to line up all the cool jeep and trucks to draw attention and do our live feed from the movie premiere.I got to meet so many new faces that I follow on social media and I think that was a huge highlight for me. The movie was so very cool! Our evening closed with a country dinner of pot pie!! Yum!
The next morning was relaxed with some morning coffee in our meeting spot in the movie room trying to let Charlene sleep and be quiet little mice. Or so we thought, but she was already up and came looking for us. She had been trying to let us sleep in as well. Now we were all awake to plan our day of helping set up some of the checkpoints at the Fury Rode course.
After meeting up with Val and Michael, we all set off to retrieve pallets to set up the shooting course hooking up pallets to a tow rope, Melissa and Kristin drug the pallets up to the staging spot to prop them up with paper targets and get the paintball guns set up to practice shooting and moving in the vehicles. I started writing in the sand “Ladies Offroad Network”, but didn't quite finish when Melissa backed over my artwork unknowingly. We tried to stop her, but that buggy is loud and she revved it up more! We did get a picture of me in action at least. Fun times!
The wind picked up with fiercely and we went back to our house, cleaned up and met Val and Michael for some Chinese food and great conversation. We all got to know Val and Michael really well as they talked about their work in the offroad world. It was a great time with them both.
Friday was the day to pre run the course and learn some navigation skills and recovery. We had to download the race course map and checkpoints to be ready for tomorrow. In Oklahoma there are maps or trails are marked with signs, so I was unfamiliar with the way we had a map with a red line to stay on our course and know where to go. There are many trails around the open land but we had to stick to the map by navigating the topo and terrain to stay on course. It took me time to figure it out, but I think I picked it up fast. Charlene taught me how to communicate the turns and trails and keep our direction. The sand dunes were easy to get turned around and go in circles.
The day was spent learning what my job was as the co-driver, I am normally the driver so this was all new to me. I had to keep us on course, take pictures and video as well as keep our mileage from checkpoints so that we knew the time frame of each checkpoint to stay on task. We would have a time limit to be at each checkpoint as well as completing checkpoints faster than other teams without deductions in points. We did stop for a while at the rock crawl section to learn to communicate inside the vehicle to maneuver without getting out. We also practiced winching. We got to see what the winching challenge would be so we could have a game plan.
Next up was the sand dunes, they were beautiful and challenging. We stayed the whole time with Melissa and Kristin, and used our radios to communicate with each other. We had fun going through the entire course and I was excited for the next day. That evening we were to meet up with all the participants at the country club for dinner and mingling. It was exciting to meet Big Rich and Shelley Klein. They passed out the very first issue of their magazine, 4Low. I got a handful to take back home because my good friend was in the magazine, and I knew he would want one. After we closed the evening with Facebook Live it was time to get back to the casa and get some rest for the early morning of competition.
Saturday we woke up bright and early… and it was soooo cold! It was time to load up and gas up. I had my game face on, and was already going through all the things I had learned in my mind. I can’t say that I was nervous, I was just ready to prove to myself that I could do everything I needed to make our team successful. I am usually pretty quiet in the morning especially when I am focused, so I think Charlene was worried I was nervous due to me being quiet. I just wanted to make sure that I was going to be the best I could. Normally I need a lot of AC/DC or some Motley Crue to get me fired up, but I was not the driver in this case and didn’t get to select the music.
My mind was mentally preparing and stuffed with all the tools I had learned. I replayed each checkpoint over in my mind and concentrated on the one we didn’t get to practice...the Blindfold Challenge. I didn't want to disappoint Charlene; the co-driver is vital to the driver’s success. I learned how she needed me to be there for her as well as communicate on the radios with our other team. We had 2 laps on the almost 40 miles course and the 2nd lap was game time for the challenge checkpoints.
I was ready to go when we made it to the starting line. We breezed through the first lap and we stopped to rest and grab out lunch which took us a while to find since the “whoops” on the course beat and tossed everything around in the back. After finding our lunch smashed and got it down we were off again. We had a feel for where we were going, and we had to make our checkpoint on time. We breezed through the rock crawl with no issues and off we go to the blindfold challenge.
That one was pretty tough to get through, but we made it. I think we could have done better but I tried too hard and over thought it. But, I was excited that we did fairly well with no big incidents. We stopped to strategize for the upcoming winching challenge and we were off again. Charlene and I discussed I would be in the driver's seat for this challenge and she wanted to make sure the winch line was secure because we hear that no one got through it yet. I was ready and excited.
Charlene threw the line up the 13 ft waterfall that was very vertical, and secured the line. The challenge was to get the vehicle up top, past the finish line. I had to run the winch and work the tires as we slowly got up the climb. At the top, I had to crawl some big steps past the finish line. I enjoyed that so much! The girls rocked it and so did Melissa and Kristin. It was so much fun.
Then it was off to the sand dunes again, and we boogied through them. It was many miles before we hit the short course, which we knew was going to be brutal. We had to make 2 laps on the long short course, or what we called the “overlanding” course. It was hard to go fast and Charlene turned the radio up loud so we didn't pay attention to all the Jeep noises, YIKES!!
Our last checkpoint was the marksman challenge. We were timed and points would be taken off if we missed. Our gun didn't shoot after we fired the first shot. Luckily we were able to redo the challenge. I thought I had hit more targets than I did, but only hit 2. I was pretty disappointed in myself because I done excellent the day before when we practiced. Melissa and Kristin killed it though. As we raced to get to the finish line we were very tired, but we had to get back and clean up for the awards ceremony that night. I was so proud we got to take home first for both of our teams and over all the women kicked butt!
The next morning was load up and head back home. I was sad to leave. We said our goodbyes and saw Melissa off first. The rest of us were going to meet up with Rich and were gifted some swag from Trail Hero. We thanked Rich for everything then headed out. Charlene wanted to take the scenic route back to Las Vegas; I am so happy we did. It is something I will always remember. We stopped in Vegas for some In and Out Burger and our last Facebook Live feed. We then said our goodbyes. Kristin and I drove back to San Diego to meet my daughter and get some sleep.
I got up super early to spend time with my daughter before my flight back to Oklahoma. We out at the beach for a while; soaked up some sun, watched the surfers and walk the beach. Off to the airport I went; it was so hard to leave my girl!
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Author: Jessica Greenland
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