by Ann Woodward
I was riding in my father's 1965 Ford step side pickup through the dirt trails of the family’s old farm, 218 acres in upstate NY, when my father stopped the old Ford to let my older brother take the wheel. Being the younger sister, and worried about my brother's driving, I thought I would just follow them. Running as fast as I could to keep up, I tripped and ended up falling flat in the mud. I was not please, but then it was my turn! All that I was upset about went away.
When I got older, I bought a 1977 Chevy K2500 5.7 with a 6” lift and 38’ tires on it. I was all about the mud. I used to go with friends down to the Endwell trails, Ladies Land, and Killer Hill all near my area. We also had the farm 'til 2004 when the family sold it. Getting into the mud and holding the gas down 'til I powered through the mud was exciting. My Brothers, and now husband helped me build that old Chevy. We had a large group of friends that always wanted to get out and play in the mud or in the garage, fixing what we broke.
In 2006 we had to sell the old Chevy to have enough money to by our house. We didn’t do much for offroad for a while and started to play with bikes and low riders. This went on for a few years 'til we went wheeling with friends at Broome Tioga Sport Center in Richford, NY. That got the offroad passion bubbling again and we were on the hunt for another offroad vehicle.
That is when we found Patches, our 1984 Toyota 4Runner 22r TRD. We didn’t look at the 4Runner too well when we purchased it and didn’t notice the extent of the rust damage from a 30-year-old 4Runner. After replacing all the floors, installing a roll cage and a new frame, we were able to drive her on the trails. First mud hole we hit with the poor old 4Runner it sank and couldn’t get out. Back to the shop with it. Over the next few years we installed 4” of lift, 35” tires, lockers, new gears, doubler, and other upgrades to make Patches feels unstoppable.
About a year after we got Patches, I was asked to be the president of the Southern Tier Off Road Club and started to host events for offroad at Broome Tioga Sport Center. Helped Frozen Ocean start their mud bogs that they now offer a few times a year. Having a place to wheel is important because it gives people something to do, have fun with friends, and the excitement of driving over and through stuff is exhilarating. After hosting events at other locations, the family decided it was time to open our own location to have the freedom to offer more to the local offroading community.
BHM Offroad Test Facility was opened to help people test and learn their vehicles offroad. BHM Offroad is open just about every weekend. It all started with an idea, and what a journey it has been. No wonder not very many people have taken on this project and business venture. It was not easy, and we still struggle at times. I have been developing new relationships with some amazing people.
Who knew that little country girl that fell into the mud hole would someday be running an offroad test facility with family? Every weekend I go up to the facility and wait in my shack for our customers to roll in with their rigs. Seeing them roll down the street into the facility still gets me excited and hearing how far people drive to get to our facility, and the smiles when they conquer the obstacle they never thought possible.
Now that Patches is getting older she is feeling the abuse from helping to create trails at two different locations. She has been rolled down hills, over and through trees, and dropped on rocks. She keeps going strong, but this old trusty Toyota is not going to last forever. My husband and I are now working on her replacement. A 2018 Mahindra Roxor that is getting all redone with custom suspensions plus more. Who knows what the next year holds for the family and myself, but I know that it’s got to be great for all the work we have been putting into our future.
Offroading has been a passion along with business. Meeting Charlene Bower, Cora Jokenin, and Jessie Combs has been inspirational. Meeting such strong, driven women has pushed me to try as hard as I can to follow my dreams. So here is to 2019 and what we have to look forward to. Here is also to our new adventure as the NY Chapter for Ladies Offroad Network, and the new adventures it brings.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas