Friday Dec 21, 2007

Decent offroading at last

We've finally got around to doing a couple of great off road trips.

First off was a trip to 'Area 53', a couple of weeks ago. Two Wranglers and a long wheel base Pajero...

Early on in the trip Rupert fell victim to technology thinking it knows better. His Pajero was in Drive, rather than locked in second or third, so it decided to change up a gear just at the wrong moment, leaving Rupert stranded rather precariously.

I raced up to secure the back of the Pajero, so that he'd be anchored when trying to turn down, should he start to roll. Unfortunately I misjudged things and got stuck myself.

Once Simon had pulled me back out, I attached my rope to the Pajero and Rupert inched back down without any problems. Still, better safe then sorry.

No major stucks for the rest of the day - just enjoying some very big, sweeping dunes.

Last week we went to Sweihan with my new colleague, Gerard. Even bigger dunes, plus the fact that we were following rather than leading, meant a super day's driving. Brilliant fun, particularly in one huge bowl that saw me driving round and round in fifth gear and low range, in order to keep momentum up and revs down. Incredible stuff. No photos though - we were having so much fun Mrs Saul forgot to take any.

Full set of the Area 53 pics here.

I would have loved to go desert driving...

...with this man.

I wonder if he'd have enjoyed whizzing around Dubai's dunes in the Wrangler? 'Pah, we used to do this in old Fords with one cylinder and half a wheel!'. I think the Brigadier would have enjoyed himself.

Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

Clarkson blown to smithereens

Of all the great 'tests' they do on Top Gear, this one has to be the best I've seen.

I'd love to take a Range Rover or Range Rover Sport out into the desert. I expect you'd be more likely to crack the front spoiler off than you would on driving over a Range Rover's traditional mud filled terrain, but you'd have a very comfortable and fun time in the process.

Saturday Jul 07, 2007

Take me to Namibia!

I need to visit Namibia immediately.

Any partners out there with big potential desktop deals? Or who need some training so they can start developing some big potential desktop deals?

Monday Apr 16, 2007

New Wranglers Spotted

I spotted the new Wrangler Sahara and Wrangler Unlimited near our apartment yesterday.

First impressions:

The Wrangler looks cool, but I'm concerned about overhang on the front bumper - it looks like a big sand scoop. Apparently though, approach and departure angles are better than my model. The insides look more comfy and the rescue hooks look fairly decent. Anything, in that department, would be better than the paper clips masquerading as recovery points that Jeep have mysteriously used for so long.

The Wrangler Unlimited also looks cool - I've seen it on the web and simply not 'got it' until now. Seeing it in real life I now understand why people might want to buy it. I think it's a niche vehicle - certainly not a family alternative to the standard Wrangler - but it looks capable all the same. I'll be very interested to see how well it sells and who buys it.

Friday Apr 13, 2007

Area 53

We spent a fun day driving around 'Area 53' today, a spot with some challenging dunes near Big Red.

As we were with some beginners I only had one try at getting up this particular slipface.

Next time we'll take three cars with experienced drivers and push things a little harder, but today was still great fun. My highlight was whizzing along a very steep, high ridge, wind-blown sand streaming over the lip and the Jeep cutting through at high speed. Exhilarating stuff.

After lunch we met up with our TV producer friend Rupert, who needed to film 6 cars in the dunes for a project he's working on. This meant driving around for two hours being filmed from various angles.

Driving practically bumper to bumper looks good on film, but isn't the safest way to cross the desert, but we managed it without any incidents. For the last section the crew mounted their camera on the back of their Chevy Tahoe and asked me to lead the convoy so they could get some shots of the 6 cars following us. I enjoyed driving the Tahoe - powerful and very heavy, so it kept going in a straight line on sections where the Wrangler usually needs more careful handling. I wouldn't want to have to tow it out when it gets stuck though.

Apparently the crew got some good footage. Mrs Saul was the next car behind us, so hopefully I'll have something to post here soon.

The highlight of the day was seeing these three mother camels with their babies beside them, their mothers protecting them from the wind.

Mrs Saul got a nice shot of the new Dubai skyline on the way back. We'll be living here by early September, God willing.

Friday Mar 16, 2007

Sandstorm

We were meant to do a drive today but abandoned it due to the heavy winds blowing across Dubai. We managed to get about 15 minutes into the dunes, but visibility was terrible and it was hard to see the outline of the terrain we were driving over. Even where you could see the lips of the dunes clearly the wind had often created a precipice on the other side, making for some rather steep descents. The sand was flowing over the ground, looking more like ghostly yellow fog, making the going very soft indeed.

At one point I stopped the Wrangler sideways to the wind and half the desert seemed to blow into the Jeep, even though all the doors and windows were closed. Maybe we'll manage a trip next week...

Saturday Mar 10, 2007

Jeep Ladies

Carol Cooney from the Sun Dubai office has been an offroad fanatic for ages - when I first met her she was driving a lovely short wheel base Land Rover Defender 90. She's now moved onto a short wheel base Nissan Patrol via a 110 Defender Tomb Raider. The Patrol's just for 'normal trips' though... The real fun's going to be had in her heavily customised Jeep Wrangler, which she hopes to drive in local rallies.

Carol had asked people in the office if anyone could help her out with some promo pics of her and co-driver Be. I volunteered Mrs Saul for the job, so we went with Carol and Be for a short drive today, along with another amateur photographer from Sun Dubai, Kevin.

Mrs Saul got some great shots.

Unfortunately my double chin and I weren't able to fit in to the rally seats - they're fixed in place and positioned to be just right for Carol, who's a wee bit shorter than I am.

The area we were in is actually where I'd planned to go for a drive last week, but we didn't quite make it. I'm planning to be there this coming weekend though - some great big dunes to climb, big bowls and good slipfaces galore.

All the best to Carol and Be in their rallying endeavours! (More pics here.)

Desert rubbish

The amount of rubbish lying around popular offroading sites is really beginning to annoy me.

It's far worse than it was four years ago and it's always a certain kind of offroader that seems to be the culprit. You see people literally sitting in their rubbish, throwing things out of the window and generally not behaving very well.

My worry is that the various municipalities who are responsible for these areas will end up being forced to clamp down on people using the desert and we'll end up with a great hobby being ruined thanks to a few morons who think it's acceptable to throw litter everywhere.

Friday Mar 09, 2007

Off road in March

We did a great trip last week in the big dunes opposite Big Red. Aaron has a nice write up. His tire came off and we did a textbook 'pop back on'.

The Hummer did really well - turning off the stability control is definitely recommended.

I'd been wanting to get out in these particular dunes for a while - we'll definitely be going there again before it gets too hot!

Some pics here.

Tuesday Feb 27, 2007

Just popping out to the offie\*, darling

The ME4x4 website has a nice set of pics from one member who popped out to buy some beer and got rather nicely stuck.

\* 'The Offie' is British slang for the 'Off Licence', a shop licensed to sell intoxicating beverages.

Tuesday Feb 06, 2007

Land Rover envy

Just got the Wrangler back from a 110K service. A leaky gasket seal was replaced and I was advised that the next service will see a leaky power steering gearbox needing attention too.

I think my Jeep's trying to turn into a Land Rover.

Wednesday Jan 17, 2007

FJ Cruiser spotted

I spotted the new FJ Cruiser before Christmas.

Looks too much like a toy to me. Maybe we'll see one in the dunes soon.

Magic numbers

I'll have to wait a while for the 2s to be in line.

Friday Nov 24, 2006

Kamaz coming through!

jaok from ME4x4 has posted a great shot of a Kamaz truck at this year's Desert Challenge. I'd love to have a go at driving one of these!

There are some other good pics from the event to be seen in this thread.

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