How Things Work on the Runs
SoCal Bajas was originally formed as a small group of guys that wanted to get together and go off-roading once a month, while keeping things very informal. We really didn't want a bunch of rules, regulations, and organization. We just wanted to get dirty. We figured if we got together on a regular basis (once a month), it would force us to keep our cars in running condition, and actually use them on a regular basis. We understood that in Southern California, there really is no "Off Road Season", and we were blessed to have such great weather year-round, and we wanted to take full advantage of that!
Of course, word got out and spread fast. After the first year, we had almost 100 members!!!
So, while retaining our original goal, which is to go out and have fun together without bunches of regulations, we soon realized that there was a need for a few simple rules, and a plan for the way we do things when we get together to ensure that we have a safe and family-friendly environment.
This is what we go over before each run at our "Pre-Run" Meeting:
- We respectfully request that our members refrain from using alcohol or any other drugs on our runs. For obvious reasons, we feel this promotes the safest environment for our members. After the run is over; at our dinners, meets, get-togethers, camps, etc…. we have no problem whatsoever with alcohol consumption, but would , of course, ask that illegal drug use be avoided.
- We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE that participants have and use "race radios". Not only does this make our runs much more fun, it greatly increases our safety as a group. The lead car will warn of an oncoming hazard, like a car, group of motorcycles, deep hole on the road, etc. As each car passes this hazard, that car relays it back to the ones behind him. Also, in the event of a breakdown, or someone gets lost, it is much easier to re-group if everyone can communicate.
- When running trails, we do what we call "Mirror Tag". THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! When we come to an intersection in the road, the lead car waits until he can see the car behind him in his mirror. When he can, he then proceeds. That car then stops and waits for the car behind him, and so on. This ensures that no one gets lost and left behind. You can see what can (and sometimes does) happen if one person forgets to do this: All the cars from than point backward end up lost. This just ends up cutting into the fun time that the group spends together, because we have to find the lost party and re-group.
- No car is left behind. When we have break-downs, and we SURELY will, we all pitch in and help the guy who is broken. We realize that as hard as we sometimes drive, we will all eventually break something. Whether it be minor or major, we help the member whose car broke, and develop a plan to get the car back to where it can be taken home if it is broken beyond repair. I personally think the "Trail Fixes" that we come up with can be part of the fun too…. As long as it isn't my car! LOL!
- We always have a "Leader" and a "Sweeper". The leader's job is to navigate the course and relay safety hazards as discussed before. The sweeper's job is to make sure that no one gets left behind. When we have a breakdown, or otherwise need to stop, each person transmits the message via CB radio to the guys ahead to let them know they need to turn around. If the lead car cannot be reached, the furthest car forward needs to let drive until he can. Again, it is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE that we keep the group together.
- Lastly, many of our runs are on trails where there may be cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. BE SURE that you navigate blind curves and hills with caution. If we come across a very difficult spot in the run that will require advanced driving skills, the trail leader will stop the group and make sure a spotter is on hand to assist.
- Don't stop on steep hills. Likewise: Let the car ahead of you clear the hill (or other obstacle) before you attempt it. The only thing worse than backing down a hill is backing two cars down the hill at the same time!
Have fun and get dirty. Trust that the trail leader for the day has surmised the abilities of all of the drivers, and the capabilities of all of the cars; and is convinced that each person will make it in once piece! There will always be challenges for the group, and that's what makes this fun. That's why we call this SoCal Bajas Off-Road ADVENTURES!