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Jeeping at Big Bear Lake

Editor’s note: Lane Melland is no stranger to Jeeping. His 2012 JKU is his third Jeep, and he takes it everywhere: trails in the mountains, deserts, and sand dunes. But his favorite location might be Big Bear Lake, California.

 


 

I love to go to Big Bear Lake, California, for the annual Jeep Jamboree. A local 4-wheel club called the Inland Empire 4-Wheel Club works with the national Jeep Jamboree to put on the event. They have a great group of trail guides and awesome planning and execution when it comes to putting on a great trail event with food, sponsors, giveaways, and social environment.

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They set up trail rides for every ability, from stock Jeeps with beginner drivers, to modified street legal rock crawlers. It’s a two-day event, and it starts with an easier trail on the first day to prepare you for a harder trail the second day. It’s a great way to get guided experience and learn what your Jeep can really do.

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There are many trails in Big Bear. Some that I like are Gold Mountain, John Bull, Horse Thief Canyon, The Squeeze, Tip Top Mountain, and Cactus Flats.

There is also a ton of wildlife in Big Bear, and occasionally you see rattlesnakes, coyotes, and deer. I have never seen a bear up there, but I hope I do. The views up on the trails are always awesome, and there was a lot of mining throughout the area back in the day, so there are abandoned mines and equipment in various areas.






Follow Lane's Jeeping adventures on Instagram at @sirvivor3.

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Adventure

Project Hi-Vis on the Trans-America Trail

Editor’s note: It’s easy to spot Brad Self’s orange 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited on the trail — or anywhere, really. The distinctive paint also happens to be his rig’s namesake: Project Hi-Vis. Here, the U.S. Navy veteran tells us about his 2017 overlanding experience on the Trans-America Trail.

 


 

In June of this year, 2017, I set off on a journey that had people doubting my sanity and safety. I began down the route of the Trans-America Trail on June 2nd. The Trans-America Trail starts in Damascus, VA, now [January 2018], but when I started the trail in June, it began in Western North Carolina in a town called Andrews.  The trail mainly winds through ten states until you find yourself at the Pacific Ocean in Port Orford, Oregon.

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I started the trail with two friends alongside me on their motorcycles. They had to turn back at the Mississippi River, but I kept heading west — full steam ahead. I had four weeks approved from work to complete this trail and return home. The 5,000-mile trail was my time to find myself and basically figure out where I should be headed in life, and it was the fuel I needed to grow my passion for the outdoors.

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I absolutely loved the trail and the experience. I spent 19 days on the trail and 25 days total on the road, but I wish I could have taken even more time. There was not one specific moment better than the other. The entire trip was amazing. It’s hard to even describe the beauty I experienced. The people I met along the trip were more than helpful and overly friendly.

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Of course, Self built Project Hi-Vis to suit what he thought his needs would be on this trip.

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The first stage of this build included what I thought to be the basic necessities in an overland rig. The first thing I added to the Jeep was a trail-worthy lift-kit. I picked the Rock Krawler 2.5" Max Travel Lift, and soon after, I had BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires (35x12.50R17) mounted. After some camping trips, the interior and the roof rack were the next big things to tackle. Once the interior storage was built and the roof rack was installed, it was time to get organized and see where everything would be placed. The Engel MT45 and the Cook Partner stove slide out on the Adventure Trailers Combo Slide in the back of the Jeep. 

Crunch time is never a good time to be installing parts that could make or break a trip, but due to my 9-to-5, parts had to be installed last minute before the trail. I quickly installed a Viair Constant Duty compressed air system, 13-gallon onboard water tank, and the Adventure Trailers Interior JK Cargo Rack. 

I’m always fine-tuning the build as I go. I’ll be adjusting the Jeep in its current state for similar trips as the Trans-America Trail, and in 2019, I’ll take the Jeep out on the Continental Divide Trail.

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To learn more about Self and his build, follow him on Instagram.

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Adventure

Bengt and Eveli Alverborg: Doing Good in Morocco

Bengt and Eveli Alverborg are a Swedish couple with a shared passion for traveling. They’ve previously visited and explored Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hurghada in Egypt, Nerja and Lanzarote in Spain, and Illinois and Michigan. In October 2017, they embarked on an epic trip to Morocco with the charity Light2Learn where they helped install solar panels in remote schools.

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After the usual checks on their 4x4 car fitted with BFGoodrich Tires, Bengt and Eveli left Sweden on October 2nd for the ferry to Poland. Then, they crossed Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to reach Italy and take another ferry on the Grimaldi Line. Their objective was the region of Ifrane and the surrounding areas in Morocco. The project was to provide solar (PV) electric lighting and power solutions for remote schools in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco, serving hundreds of children.

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Their work began October 10th. All schools were in or close to the Ifrane National Park. Bengt and Eveli met with Tim Harman, the project manager of Light2Learn, and Jérôme Chestnot, co-project manager and translator. The different teams worked on six schools for six days. “Both the teachers and the school children were just fantastic!” says Bengt.

All the schools were different. Some schools were surrounded by wild monkeys. Some had kids arriving via donkey. But, the most important thing was the smiles the children had. “I gave them all the gifts we had brought from friends and other donors in Sweden: books, pens, erasers, toys, balls, reflectors, pencil sharpeners and more.” But all good things come to an end, and finally they reached the last school. The team finished their installations and said goodbye to everyone. Now it was vacation time!

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Bengt and Eveli drove to Merzouga and Erg Cherbi Deser. They crossed dried-up rivers and lakes. “The coolest thing was driving into and through an old crater!” they both said. From October 18th to 20th, the couple discovered the Sahara, the Sacred Oasis, Lake Iriki, and a winding mountain with wonderful views and lots of exercise for the steering wheel as well as the accelerator and brakes.

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Finally, the couple returned to civilization, arriving in Marrakesh, then heading on to discover Fez. They enjoyed a few days of relaxation and exploration, but on October 24th, it was time to head home to Europe.

After a month and nearly 10,000 kilometers, Bengt and Eveli’s trip made an impact on them as well as hundreds of grateful children.

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Build

Robert's 1993 Mazda RX-7

Editor’s note: The Mazda RX-7 is a classic in the making. It’s distinctive, attractive, and it came with the twin-turbocharged 13B rotary engine. But that wasn’t enough for Robert Green. This Team Hybrid veteran decided the FD RX-7 would make a great starting point for something truly unique. Now, with a four-rotor 26B swapped in and a rare widebody kit, it’s impossible to mistake this RX-7 for anything else on the road.

 


 

I have been with Team Hybrid for nine years now. I first got involved in the team when they recruited my brother. He drove an Audi A5 at the time, and I tagged along with my brother to one of the team meetings. I knew right away that they were a family I wanted to be a part of. Team Hybrid was already killing the game, and I wanted in.

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I joined Team Hybrid with a 2004 Scion xB. After helping Team Hybrid collect 1st place Scion trophies for a few years, I decided I wanted to step up my game, start a new build, and also bring something really rare to the team. 

When I started to map out my second build, I knew I wanted to build an RX-7. The RX-7 has always been one of my favorite cars, dating back to high school. The bodylines and car just looked amazing. After three months of searching, I found one in California for sale, and I went and picked it up and started brainstorming how my project was going to turn out.

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I did some research on other RX-7s being built at the time, but I wanted to do something truly unique. I knew I wanted the car to be crazy, but it wasn’t until I purchased the Version Victory body kit and Scoot four-rotor engine that the car really got crazy, After those two purchases, I had this go-big-or-go-home mentality, and I wanted the FD to be a contender in the scene.

Right now, I’ve got the Feed Version Victory wide-body conversion kit — the first kit sold in the US and 12th in the world; a Scoot 4-rotor engine with independent throttle bodies producing 400whp; a Motec M880 ECU; custom milspec wire harness by Sakata Motorsport Electronics; custom equal-length headers and exhaust by Bisimoto; Tecnocraft T2 carbon seats; Motec C127 display; Tilton over-hanging race pedals; GReddy oil coolers; Mishimoto oil radiator cap and fan; Advan GT2 wheels; custom billet oil plate and shifter by Built 2 Apex; Cusco Zero3x coilovers and front and rear strut bars; a  Zeitronix ZT-2 air/fuel ratio sensor with LCD display; and BFGoodrich® g-Force Sport COMP-2s.  I’ve been using those tires for about nine years now on both my RX-7 and xB, and they are my go-to tires. I can’t see myself going with any other company.

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What I love most about the car is the reaction I get from people when I take it out. My FD looks more like an exotic now, and it’s cool to see how people react when they find out it is an RX-7.

Thanks to our founder and president James Lin, Team Hybrid management and family, the Hybrid Hunnyz, and plenty of Hybrid Luv to our team title sponsors: BFGoodrich, Meguiar's, Mishimoto, K&N Filters, AMSOIL, Whiteline, Password:JDM, NRG Innovations, and Optima Batteries.  If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team.

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Follow Robert on Instagram at @feedfd. Photography by Nathaniel Cason.

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Adventure

Delphine Crosse Tackles the Carta Rally

Delphine Crosse, grew up in the south of France, and has been a keen motorsports fan since she was a baby girl. She started out in motorsports with motocross events and jet-skiing, and her record as a co-driver speaks for itself.

As a co-driver in the Carta Rally, Crosse won in 2015, and took third place in 2016 and 2017. She also won the Trophée Roses des Sables — a women’s rally raid — as a driver. The list goes on.

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However, she’s always had her sights set higher: competing as a driver in the Carta Rally. That’s why BFGoodrich is supporting her ultimate dream in March 2018 through the Good Project.

Crosse and her co-driver, Xavier Dessemon, will have to navigate about 2200km (1367 miles) of special stages in Morocco. Mountains, wadis, and endless stretches of desert provide plenty of challenges for competitors. 

Crosse and her co-driver, Xavier Dessemon, will have to navigate about 2200km (1367 miles) of special stages in Morocco. Mountains, wadis, and endless stretches of desert provide plenty of challenges for competitors. The daily rankings and eight days of rough riding are as tough on the human body as they are on vehicle mechanics. Being pushed to the limit is the expectation for this challenging race.

Crosse and Dessemon will be on the starting line for the fifth edition of the Carta Rally when it kicks off on March 12. The course starts out at Guelmin and ends at Merzouga, crossing expanses of desert around Icht, Foum Zguid, and Mhamid, across Morocco. They will be competing in the Cross Country class — a first for Crosse — where teams use a road book and GPS to complete the course.

Endurance will be key to getting through these days in the desert, and faultless navigation with pinpoint precision is also a must if they are to repeat their earlier performances in previous years. Next stop: March 2018, on the starting line and the gateway to the Moroccan desert.

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Adventure

Melgoza Racing

Editor’s note: Alex Melgoza and his family run a pair of desert racing trucks in Southern California. They’re small, and they’re mostly running in smaller race series, but make no mistake. There’s no quit in this team.

 


 

Melgoza Racing is a family race team out of Chula Vista, CA. We race a Class 18 F-100 truck (Class 8, but Sportsman — like a 1500 truck in SCORE), and a Class 7SX (BITD 7100) Ranger. We started with a different truck about 6 years ago — it was my uncle’s — and ever since, I wanted my own.

Our family got into racing because my dad and uncles grew up in Ensenada, BC. My uncle built a F-150 Class 8 truck, and we had raced it a few times until I decided to make my own truck. I decided to build a 7SX truck because the competition in Ensenada was growing so much, and Alejandro Murillo over at Baja Racing Shop in Ensenada took me along in one of the trucks he had recently built, and I fell in love.

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It took my dad, brother and I about 3 years to build this race truck because we wanted the best parts for it, and it’s not a very cheap hobby. Thanks to Baja Racing Shop, they built this full truck out of Chromoly, 100% TIG welded. So right now, Melgoza Racing is constantly racing two trucks for now.

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In December, we brought out our brand new Ranger for the Record Race Ready 250. We ended with a fifth place out of 10 racers, and our F-100 also ended up with a 5th place finish. What I enjoy the most about racing our Class 7SX truck is the competition. Almost everyone in our class has a very competitive truck, and in some races, we have up to 25 racers. This class is very well fought in the smaller organizations, such as the Record Off-Road series and the Code Off-Road series.

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When we aren't racing, we are all just looking for a way to better our trucks. On both of our trucks, we usually race the original Baja T/A race tires and we couldn't love them more. They have really good traction, and we experience very few flats. We also race with Baja T/A Projects for the San Vicente race because it has a lot more rocks and these tires last longer out there. But for silt or more sandy areas, we put the other Baja T/A tires on. Our pre-runner is a Toyota Tacoma, which currently has on it as well. 

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One of my favorite memories racing was when we took out our original Class 8 F-150. We were racing from Ensenada to San Felipe, and about halfway through, our trailing arm from the 4-link had been completely torn off our chassis. We used a bunch of straps to keep the arm in place and limped our way to the finish line. This just showed how determined we were to finish this race because no matter what, we weren't giving up.

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Adventure

Ryan’s 2015 Dodge Ram Power Wagon

Editor’s note: When Ryan Taylor took his girlfriend out on her first dove hunting trip of the year, an unexpected storm put him, his truck, and his Mud-Terrains to the test.

 


 

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I decided to take the girlfriend dove hunting for her first time this year. We got out to the middle of a good-sized field and set up. But then, a nasty storm popped up out of nowhere, and the field began turning into a swamp. There were eight other trucks there that left before we could get our stuff packed up.

Luckily, I had bought a set of BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s not long before this. When we finally got everything into the truck, it had gotten really nasty outside. We made it about 200 yards and saw that everyone else was buried. Not only did we get out with zero issues, but we had to pull everybody else out to the road. I have run countless Mud-Terrains over the years, and nothing has worn as well or lasted as many miles while working so great in the mud and on the rocks. Needless to say, my girlfriend also runs KM2s on her Jeep now.

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Adventure

Big O

Editor’s note: Just a short way down I-85 from BFGoodrich Tires’ headquarters in Greenville, SC, there’s a family-run dealership. And at this dealership — Big O Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram — you’ll find Jake Odum. Odum took over the dealership after his father and older brother passed away in separate vehicle accidents, but those tragic curveballs haven’t diminished Odum’s love for off-roading. Here’s what he had to say about his passion and his rigs while showing us one of his secret spots in town.

 


 

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We were a standalone Dodge store for 25 years. That was what our family did for work, but I was always interested in Jeeps. My dad always owned Jeeps, and I started driving a stick shift — an old three-speed CJ7 — around the family farm when I was 12 years old. Luckily, there was no traffic on the farm, so I could learn as I went — “grind it till you find it.”

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My first car was a 1984 Jeep CJ7. It was 5-speed, 258 inline 6-cylinder. So you could say I’ve always been into Jeeps, and I’ve always had them. I think my dad knew what he was doing, maybe pushing me in this direction a little bit. I wasn’t driving fast cars and doing stuff I shouldn’t have been, and it’s a little safer in the Jeep, at least. I used to get all the magazines before the internet. I would read every issue of every Jeep, four-wheel drive, sport utility and off road magazine I could. I just dreamed about Moab and the Rubicon Trail, and that was my endgame. I thought, “If I just do that, I’ll be happy.”

Now I’ve done Moab 9 times. You might think, “Don’t you want to go somewhere else?” But God, it just doesn’t get old! It’s just awesome. And the people you meet are just great. That’s what’s cool about this sport. Even as the average individual, you can go to Moab at Easter Jeep Safari and rub elbows with off-roading legends. I’ve gone, run trails, hung out, and eaten dinner with Walker Evans and @Larry McRae and @Lance Clifford. Those guys are good friends of mine now, but they were people I would look up to before. It’s just really cool.

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Now, the Southeast isn’t the rock-crawling hotbed of America, but you can get to some really great places, really quickly. It’s not as hard as you would think. We like to do Moore Mountain and Gray Rock in Alabama, and Tennessee has some really great wheelin’ with Windrock. Then in Kentucky, we go to Black Mountain, which is amazing. There’s some really great local spots, too. You can run down to the Gulches in Laurens, SC. It’s a whole different feel, but it’s a cool thing. Especially with it being 40 minutes down the road, it’s not too shabby.

"I’ve driven other rigs, and I’ve had other sticky tires, but there’s nothing like a BFGoodrich Red Label. It’s just unparalleled in actual traction and performance."

As for BFGoodrich, it’s such an established name. The fact that BFGoodrich wins Baja championships doesn’t really affect me [because desert racing isn’t big on the East Coast], but it still resonates. It’s the idea of it, and it’s just cool.

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But the performance is there, too. The proof is in the pudding: you can drive a vehicle with BFGoodrich Tires and tell that the quality and the engineering are there. They do well off-road, but they do well on the road when you gotta do that. The Red Labels [on War Machine, Odum’s silver JKU ] aren’t made for that, but all the other tires are just engineered to death. They’re great.

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But for pure traction, there’s just no substitute for Red Labels. I’ve driven other rigs, and I’ve had other sticky tires, but there’s nothing like a BFGoodrich Red Label. It’s just unparalleled in actual traction and performance. We’re in this creek, and you don’t even slip a tire. We’re running full air pressure, we’re not aired down, and you can just cruise along and do whatever you want. It’s pretty impressive.

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I’m fortunate enough that I can look at different stuff, and I can buy different tires. But when you look at everything — what works, what will get the job done, what’s quality — everything from my new Ram 2500 truck, my classic ’83 Jeep Scrambler, my rock crawlers — they all have BFGs on them.

 


 

Follow Jake Odum on Instagram at @bigo66, and his JKU build at @warmachine_jk.

 

 

 

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