Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Andy Cardenas takes us through his club’s 4×4 Safety Clinic.
Working with the California State Park OHV, Esprit de Four was finally able to conduct the spring safety clinic at Hollister Hills Park this past Saturday. The safety clinic is usually held in May and September however due to Covid, the clinic had to be rescheduled to July and we had to follow all the current state and local public health ordinances (social distancing, taking temperatures and having students fill out all necessary paperwork). With 37 students and their rigs, it would seem like this could be a recipe for disaster however there was enough preplanning and hard work that led to another successful safety clinic.
The morning began with students being met at our temperature check in station and then moved on to the registration area where they provided their registration forms and Covid forms and assign them to a group which allows us to have multiple groups on the trail without running into each other. They are then sent over to the vehicle inspection area where we check for items like battery tie downs, fire extinguishers and a full-size spare tire. At this point we work with the students to air down their tires and explain the benefits of losing some air.
And as you can imagine, we get all kinds of rigs from Jeeps (some are brand new) Samurais, Toyotas and one time, even a full-size fire truck!
The large campground at Hollister Hills in known as area 5 and we were fortunate enough that there was enough room to accommodate all the students for the class presentation portion of the clinic. Here our instructors covered topics such as break over angles, stream crossings, tire positioning and the concepts of Tread Lightly.
After a short break, the class moved over for a demonstration of different recovery techniques and tools, a locker demo and how to use a Hi-lift jack. We really lucked out weather wise as it was a nice 81 degrees with a slight breeze where last weekend it was hitting close to 100 and as dry as it can be for a California summer.
On the Trail
After a quick lunch, it was time to get the students into their rigs and off on the trail for the rest of the day being guided by club members. With 37 rigs in attendance, we split them up into 4 groups and sent them to different obstacles within Hollister Hills that are staffed by members of Esprit de Four to help spot them and to provide some additional instruction. Myself and my friend Vidas were stationed at the Frame Twister which shows students how their vehicle flexes and moves while moving forward. If time allows, we are also able to have the students pose for a selfie.
The tire placement exercise is one of those that looks easy but is one that tests the drivers situational awareness as they have to get as close as they can to the “tree” with out hitting it and without the use of any back up cameras (and yes, I’ve tried this exercise and have taken out a tree or two).
The Stair Steps
The Stair Steps is one of those obstacles that seems really intimidating to those who on the trail for the first time, however with a little bit of coaching, we are able to have them walk up it with no problem.
After a long day on the trail, the students come back to Area 5, receive their certificate and air up their tires for the drive home.
All in all, it was a great day with no breakage and lots of smiles from our students. We’re hoping to have our September clinic on it’s scheduled time this year if all goes well.
Esprit de Four
Esprit de Four was founded as a non-profit organization in San Jose, California in 1975. We are a family friendly four-wheeling club and all of our members are also members of Cal 4 Wheel. It is a 501(c)(7) non-profit organization whose purpose is the social, recreational, and educational activities, fostering the enjoyment of four-wheel drive vehicles. To learn more, please visit https://espritdefour.club/
Pictures provided by Kelly Radcliff, Joanna Chen and Andy Cardenas.