Author: Robin Brooks
The 2018 Ladies Offroad Challenge Top 10 weekend has come to an end but my story has not. I cannot wait to see what the future holds!
I believe in making daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals for myself! So, when I learned about the Ladies Offroad Challenge I instantly added it to this year’s goal list. Talk about taking on a challenge; I had no idea what I was in for. Once I turned in my application I received the first email where we had to answer some questions…no biggie I got this! Then we were advised we had to get votes of confidence. OMG, I must sell myself, put myself out there, ask for help??? For this control freak, I was WAY out of my comfort zone! The amazing thing is as I started sharing my post asking for votes the responses left me speechless. I learned just how much of a support system I had and I’m in awe of how many people were cheering me on! The comments were so inspiring and helped keep me going. We then had to do a write up about us…yet another challenge. I have a hard time talking about me, let alone writing my story. If you didn’t get a chance to read my story, here is the link: Robin Brooks I was very proud of myself, another challenge completed!
The day was here May 10th for the announcement of the Top 10 and I was climbing the walls! This is something I wanted so bad, I worked hard and the thought of not making it terrified me. I logged in for the “LIVE@5” with Charlene Bower, and patiently (NOT) waited for her to call out the ladies. She announced the first 5; Cristin Whetten, Danielle Terpko, Elise Bent, Kathryn Spoor, and Katlyn Wood. No biggie there are still 5 more spots. She then took a break to discuss other exciting upcoming events -OMG CHARLENE NO!!! I was sitting on the edge of the couch when she continued #6 Keri Porter #7 Kris Bowe, at this point my heart started sinking, #8 Tamika Willstead, ok it’s sinking in, this isn’t going to happen this year, THEN FINALLY #9 ROBIN BROOKS YES, SHE CALLED MY NAME! I can’t even imagine what was going on through Teresa Lummus’ mind while waiting for #10 to be called out! I jumped up and was doing the happy dance with tears rolling down my cheeks. My husband Christopher gave me a great big hug and said he knew I would make it! What a great feeling that I achieved another goal on this year’s list!
Jumping ahead to travel day!!!!
TOP 10 WEEKEND IS HERE! I am up at 4:30 am packing those last-minute items. We leave the house a little early so my husband and I could stop and have breakfast before dropping me at the airport.
The first challenge of the trip… I am 2 miles from the airport and get a text that my flight had been canceled! WHAT!?!?! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING! The airline automatically booked me on the next flight out however it wasn’t leaving OKC till 3:43 pm. The top 10 ladies flying in were going to be picked up at 1:00 pm. I am not one who likes to be late so this was really messing with my head. So, I sent a text to Charlene to let her know about my bump in the road. She responded "No worries, Robin, just breath…You’ve got this!" In that instant, I took a deep breath and flipped my brain to positive thoughts only. Okay, I am now on a direct flight, so no running from one gate to the next to make my flight. That afternoon, I get to the airport and went straight through security, quickly loaded my plane, got in my seat, doors closed and guess what - I didn’t have anyone sitting with me SCORE! I landed in Phoenix at 4:30 pm. I let Charlene know I had arrived, she said my ride was on the way. I patiently waited not sure who would be picking me up when OMG FRANKIE PULLED UP! HECK YA!!! Then to make things even better Mrs. Bonnie (we became forever friends at the Ladies Offroad Convention last year) was driving! My morning might not have started out so great but it sure was ending on a good note.
It’s not how you start that’s important but how you finish! – Jim George
I assumed that we would go to the house and I would meet the other ladies get settled and such. NOPE, I was taken directly to our first stop! WOW talk about hitting the ground running. That’s how I would sum up the whole weekend!
Bonnie dropped me at LetzRoll Offroad were I met up with Charlene and the rest of the ladies. When we pulled up there was this BADASS ‘57 Chevy Truck 4x4 sitting out front and I fell in love! It was my signature color Tiffany Blue and perfect! I missed out on the race car discussion but got there in time to learn about Yukon Gear & Axle installs. I then got an opportunity to weld! It wasn’t pretty but practice makes perfect, I foresee a welding class in my future. Thank you, Andrew, Jason, Matt, Steve, and Tim for sharing your time and knowledge!
We then loaded in the van and headed to the house for dinner. To say my head was spinning was putting it mildly. I ate dinner then found a spot to call 'my home' and got my bed set up and somewhat unpacked. I had missed the house meeting but Charlene recorded it so I could get up to speed. Not going to lie I think I heard half of what she went over due to being worn out and so much going on around me. Once I got settled and laid my head down I was out.
Day 2: I got up, poured some coffee and went out to watch the sunrise. I must admit Arizona is so beautiful, so different from Oklahoma. This day was insane! With a white van, full of fantastic women, driving around town we had to let people know who we were. The 10 of us jumped out at the gas station and decorated the windows with Ladies Offroad Challenge Top 10, BFGoodrich, Yukon Gear and Axle, and Polaris. This was such a fun way to start the day and the van looked great!
We had the opportunity to meet some incredible women in the industry. I loved hearing their stories and how they got started. This truly inspired me to continue getting out of my comfort zone and crush my goals. Bogi Lateiner and Corry Weller thank you for doing what you do and encouraging women to get out there and follow their dreams.
We then got to meet Jeremy with Fly-N-Hi Racing who gave us hands-on training on how to change a tire on beadlocks and changed the oil on a JK. These were both new experiences for me and knowing that I could do these tasks was so empowering.
Hey what woman doesn’t like to shop? Especially at SDHQ! We got the VIP experience with Serena Pruett at SDHQ. This place was AMAZING! Anything off-road that your heart desires is right there at your fingertips and if it’s not, Serena will make it happen. I really got excited when I saw they had a shirt that had a Tacoma on it, I got a rad SDHQ hat to go with the outfit.
This was such a great day! After we got cleaned up and ate dinner we had a team building exercise being driver/spotter that was so much fun! We really had to trust our spotter since we were blindfolded (by the way we were on foot not behind the wheel). We finished our training Friday night with Charlene educating us on the dynamics of tires! Can you say OVERLOAD of information! Time for bed and decompress.
I must give a shout out to Mom (Deanna Bower) and Bonnie Lake for the fabulous dinners and all the food prep for the ladies. There was a total of 14 women under one roof with 2 bathrooms. We made it work, which was easy since everyone had such awesome personalities! Each night we discussed the day while eating dinner then it was off to bed. It was early mornings and late nights but hey we had a lot to do, even if we didn’t know what was going to happen next. Yes, Charlene kept all our activities a secret until we were on our way to the location. Which was another challenge for this planner/control freak. It was good for me to just be and enjoy the ride.
Day 3: We did Trail Training at 4 Wheel Parts.
This was a big deal! It is a 5 hours class where Charlene teaches you on trail recovery. I have been to other events with Charlene where I learned to use a Pull Pal, Hi-Lift, and Winch in the proper and safe way. But this training was different, I was confident in what I was doing when it was my turn to do the hands-on training. I felt so proud of myself that I retained what I had learned prior. I have no doubt that if I am out on a trail and I need to use my winch or Hi-Lift that I will have no issues. I don’t have a Pull Pal just yet, but when I do, I will know how it works. The next big deal was I pulled a 37” tire/wheel off Frankie and put it back on using my legs and not killing my back along with learning to plug a tire. This day was full of accomplishments. If you have the opportunity to participate in this Trail Training I highly recommend it.
Now things get interesting, she informed us we had 2 hours to get showered, dressed up and get our Glamor Shot photo taken by the wonderful Rachel Speir, then be in the van ready to go. Okay, remember when I said we had 14 women under 1 roof with only 2 bathrooms?? SUCCESS! I am amazed by the teamwork of this group of ladies.
We were all loaded, pictures taken and ready to go to our next secret destination! Turns out we got to visit Charlene’s home base Bower Media office. This was really cool to see where all the magic happens and I FINALLY got to meet Jamie who helps with all the behind the scene work.
Now it’s time for the night’s final destination and where did we end up?? Back at the house! We walked in the front door to a BIG SURPRISE! Some of last year’s Top 10 ladies and a houseful of friends and family to celebrate Ladies Offroad Network's 2nd
Anniversary! We had Matt’s tacos and got to visit with several people in the off-road industry. I’m not going to lie, it was nice to just chill by the pool and visit. It was a great surprise to see friends that I met and last saw at the Ladies Offroad Convention in August 2017 and catch up. Also, to hear their stories from being Top 10 last year and words of advice was so cool.
Unfortunately, the night had to come to an end.
Our itinerary went up on the wall advising we had to be in the van by 5:15 am with swimwear and hiking boots for our first outing on our last day. What in the world are we going to be doing at 5 O’clock I the morning you ask? Well, we were wondering as well until we got to Pinnacle Peak Mountain and found out we were about to take on a 4-mile hike with P.J. Jones! LOVED IT! I was so happy we were getting an early start since it was cooler in the mornings. It got crazy hot as the sun came up! I am a very active woman and was thrilled to get out and see Arizona up close and personal. This was a challenge though, to see how we worked together as a team, encouraging, helping, and sticking together. We were coming to the end of the hike and I shouted out “Have you heard of Ladies Offroad” and instantly they knew and repeated, then “We are ladies with hearts of
Gold.” We stopped so we could figure out the rest of the words. Sound off – air down – 4Hi – 4Lo – 1 – 2 – let’s go! It worked and sounded great! We continued singing to the bottom of the Peak. It was such a cool moment. We even had a couple come ask us about Ladies Offroad Network! Heck yea! It’s all about getting the word out there of who we are and what we stand for. I love being a part of an amazing organization.
2018 Top 10 Ladies leaves you with their Cadence.
Have you heard of Ladies Offroad
We are women with hearts of gold
1 – 2
Once we finished our hike and rested a few minutes it was back in the van for destination #2 PJ's Performance UTV Rentals. OMG, I am going to get to ride in a UTV!! This is so freaking awesome! I loaded up with Kris in the front seat and Cristin in the back with me. You should have heard the giggles and screams from the excitement of the ride! I will never forget this experience and look forward to being behind the wheel! After our ride, it was time for lunch and a cool down since it was 105 outside. The water was freezing but felt so good!
I couldn’t believe this was our last day! One of our ladies had to fly out so we loaded up the van and headed to the airport. Wow, I really didn’t think it was going to be so hard to say goodbye! This group really is top notch. Our ages ranged from 19 -45 and we are from all over the United States. To hear what they did for a living, where they go off-road, what they drive, some race, some overland, some crawl, and some just get off the beaten path to enjoy nature. 4 days, that’s all it took for me to create a bond with these beautiful women who are now my forever family. Since that weekend, we continue to check on each other, motivate when one is having a rough day, and give advice on upcoming events. Some are coming to the Ladies Offroad Convention in August and I can’t wait to see them again. Even though we are spread out across the states we will continue our friendship and I would even love to plan trips to visit their hometowns and go off-roading with them.
The trip home was long and fast at the same time. I left Phoenix at 9 am and didn’t get home till 5 pm, but that gave me time to nap on the plane and dream about all the things we accomplished in such a short few days
Tamika, Keri, Kris, Kat, Katelyn, Elise, Cristin, Danielle, and Teresa
I love you ladies so much! You are such an inspiration, stay strong, keep on wheeling, and never stop reaching for the stars!
Charlene Bower aka Momma Bear, YOU ROCK! Thank you so much for this opportunity to broaden my horizon and learn so many things not only about off-roading but about myself as well. I will never forget my Top 10 weekend! You have forced me to face my fears and realize I do overthink things. I can’t thank the Lord enough for bringing you into my life.
Rachel Speir, you are an amazing photographer and even more an amazing woman. Thank you for following us around and capturing these priceless moments! I am so blessed that I met you and look forward to seeing you again.
Deanna Bower & Bonnie Lake, thank you for taking care of us. It’s no easy task to take care of so many people. You have such kind hearts and sweet souls. I am so lucky to know you both!
Christopher Brooks, there is no way I would be where I am without you. Thank you for your love, patience, understanding, and working so hard to provide for us while I am on these crazy adventures. I am the luckiest woman in the world to be able to call you my husband.
BFGoodrich, Yukon Gear and Axle, and Polaris, thank you for your support with Ladies Offroad Network. What you do to help women grow in the off-road industry is incredible!
A big THANK YOU to all the people who took time out of their day, allowed us to come into your businesses and share your stories! It’s because of you that our Top 10 weekend was such a success.
Photo Credit: Rachel Speir - RS Marqueting
Author: Robin Brooks