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Old 29th September 2008, 12:26   #31
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Samurai great writeup. This is a frank opinion i got a jeep at home but havent really gone offroading and this is the case with many jeepers. Its only a few who know the inside out of their jeeps. Overall great one samurai. Feels nice at timme to get your foot dirty.
About the guys who sit with ac and windows up i seriously dont understand why they do it. One should enjoy nature and the best way to do it is without the ac on. So much for comfort!!
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Old 29th September 2008, 19:08   #32
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Man, thats a heck of a report! I reiterate what others had to say, its almost like being there (but not quite ).

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Originally Posted by IronWolf View Post
Only 4x4 are allowed right? asking cause I see some posts with 2WD comments and also asking if they were 2WDs vehicles.
2WD's are now allowed in the great escapes.

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Also I feel the Scorpio 4x4 as its not suited for this terrain.
a) too heavy
b) long wheelbase
c) yuppies who want their comfort and A/C which robs the engine of power.
Very true. Ideally, Scorpios shouldn't be allowed in GEs at all. But then, this is also a marketing event for Mahindra!

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
1) Malfunctioning 4x4 system, some couldn’t engage low gear, some couldn’t engage the front axle. The electronic 4WD systems didn’t do that well.
Most people don't engage their 4x4 systems ever so often. Thats the problem....and then, they get jammed.

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About 15 minutes later a classic comes around.
On first look, that doesn't seem to be a Classic. Rather a 340 makeover.

Samurai : Did you see any petrol 540's? Mahindra had a handful of these Jeeps powered by an FI version of the Contessa 1.8 engine. Couldn't match the diesels on low-end torque, but they were an absolute riot with their high-rpm scream and wheelspins!
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Old 29th September 2008, 19:45   #33
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At this point the flow of vehicles has come to a stop. So Sibi decides to investigate, and I hop on the back since I was getting restless with all the inactivity in the front.

As we were driving back, the trail was a revelation. The rain that poured since our last drive had turned the trail much more slippery than before. Sibi had to tread carefully since he didnít want to surprise any vehicle rushing upwards in great speed to counter the lack of traction. Anyway, nothing of that sort happened, and we reached the small bridge again. The place was a mess, it had turned into a slushy field where walking on foot was difficult. Funny what a little rain and a caravan of SUV/Jeeps can do to a mud terrain.

As I stood there, I saw a Jeep coming down the slope. In my shock, I didnít even take out the camera. The wheels were locked and turned in a direction different from where the Jeep was moving. Oddly enough it was a local (KA-12) Jeep, driven by a young driver who didnít know how to drive off-road. By the time he reached where I was, he was red faced enough by all rebuke he received by veterans in every language regarding his use of brakes. Not that it stopped me from adding similar comments. That slope had a 100ft drop on one side. Using brakes on that slope takes away all steering control and thatís a dangerous thing to do. This fact was underlined again very soon.

Looking up the slope I saw this Classic facing down the cliff.

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Since I knew the cliff was 100ft at least, I was very concerned and puzzled at the same time. How did it stay there?

See that tiny tree, it stopped the light Classic from continuing down the cliff. It couldnít have stopped a Scorpio.

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I got the low-down from the driver. He was coming down the slope properly using engine braking. But he had not waited until the sloped was clear, he instead was following another Jeep. That Jeep stopped for some reason, it could have been the same braking Jeep, not sure. To avoid colliding with that Jeep, the Classic driver slammed on the brakes and after that he had no control on which side the classic went. It could have hit the mud wall on the right, instead it slides to the left and turns at the same time. If not for the tiny tree, he would have gone all the way down.

The cliff on the side is not very visible because of the bushes, but you can make out it is a valley.

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Notice the slippery slide of a trail.

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And this is how it continues down. It looks simple, but it ainít, look at red classic again if in doubt.

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The recovery work is on.

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I decide to move on and also start cautioning the waiting Jeeps about the situation and the danger ahead.

Then I see another beauty, a 1952 Willys Jeep.

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It even had a rifle holder, and the steering on the wrong side. Noting my confusion, the owner informed me that the steering was changed from LHD to RHD, and it even had a diesel instead of petrol engine.

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Thatís a lot of stickering on the windshield. I even saw Budweiser sticker from the Sakleshpur event, I hope the officials from Fosterís (co-sponsor for the event) didnít see that.

As I moved on, I met some Jeeps from Goa, they were mostly 2WD Jeeps. I learnt that their 2WDs completed Goa Great Escape successfully. One of them later told me that they have never seen so many 4x4 vehicles in one place, Goa rarely has 4x4 vehicles. But this is Coorg, guys! Yeah, he admitted he rarely saw any 2WD Jeep in Coorg. Later the Mahindra team and marshals had hell of a time pulling out these 2WD Jeeps late into night. The Goa guys I spoke to had a winch (I think they were 4WD too), they actually returned back to rescue their friends after finishing the trail.

Then I ran into the Jeep team from Udupi, in Sachinís 340, the same guy who learnt offroading in my office backyard. It was their first OTR and they were still in good spirits after all the waiting. That is one thing to expect in such large OTR events. You will be spending 95% of your time waiting in line. But, that is not really a bad thing. You should use that time to get out and walk around, make new friends, shoot some photos, breathe mountain air and enjoy the slow pace. During the earlier OTRs, my wife used to roam around for long duration with her camera when I was stuck in the Jeep.

While I was talking to yet another Jeeper, I hear repeated horn from the back. What, somebody honking here? Obviously people were getting irritated by the honking, so I decide to investigate. I turned out to be a Scorpio. Ok, donít start.

So I knock on the glass, the glass goes down and a friendly face peeps out. I asked him why he is honking, and he says he is trying to fix center button that has come loose. Relieved, I tell him how lot of riders in the front are taking it the wrong way. He too understood the confusion it caused.

It starts raining again, so he calls me to hop into the passenger seat. After I sat inside, I had to ask this question. So I did.

Me: The 4WD Scorpio has a long waiting period, so what made you buy a 4WD Scorpio?

Him: Oh, this is not my Scorpio.

Me: Huh, then who is the owner?

Him: I work for Shell, and Shell is one of the sponsors for this event. Mahindra gives a 4WD Scorpio to every sponsor to participate in the event.

Me: Oh, so... are you a regular at offroading?

Him: Umm, no.

Me: Have you done off-roading before?

Him: No, I have used 4WD Jeeps before on roads, but nothing like this.

Me: Next there is long curving slippery slope that has to be taken slowly and carefully, do you know how to control your speed?

Him: Using Brakes I suppose.

Me: Oh No! This is what you do, put it in first low, let the clutch/brake/accelerator alone, donít touch it. Steer small, donít make any sudden turns, then you should be ok.

Him: Hmm, I didnít know that, thanks.

And I move on, and then it hits me. I had solved the mysterious presence of so many 4WD Scorpios, they were all from Mahindra given to various sponsors, and some were obviously driven by drivers unaware of offroading. Also, it explained why most of them rode with windows rolled up. They didnít know!

I think Mahindra should consider briefing uninitiated drivers in the morning about the basics of offroading. Just handing them a 4WD Scorpio in the morning could prove less enjoyable and even dangerous. And yes, especially tell them to roll the window down and smell the fresh air.

I continued walking and reached the river challenge at around 5PM. Aditya and team were still here.

Then I see this Jeep coming up, with NDMS tyres it makes it up yawning slow and easy.



Then I notice the number on the Jeep. What... 96? What happened to the figure 73? I ask around and was informed that there were 103-106 participants. And some may have turned around and left after being at the same place for 4 hours.

Look at how high the water got when this Jeep was crossing, no higher than the bumper, even the radiator hardly got wet. Meanwhile the heavier SUVs had to rush through the water and up the slope to compensate for their heavier weight and highway tyres.

Now notice this Bolero, how high the water is reaching.

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By now the slope off the river has become deeply dug up. Notice how much the rear tyres are sunk in the newly made rut.

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Meanwhile, I noticed something odd happening on the other side. Repeatedly, the Jeeps were getting into water and then reversing back.



Upon inquiry, I found they were trying to wash up the tyres to remove all mud.

I noticed that rallyist Hari Singh was now playing role of a marshal along with other volunteer marshals. I was told Hari Singh was representing J K Tyres, who were one of the sponsors.

Once all the participant vehicles crossed, now Hari Singhí modified MM550 crosses the river.

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Now Sudhirís Legend too crosses the river.

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Sudhir had already gone full circle and back. And he told me with a happy smirk that during his second run, he successfully climbed the first hill, which none of the marshals could climb in the morning. In fact, I got eye-witness report about it next day. Among the people who were at the end, one was a friend (Dev from GoniKoppal). They apparently turned back due to the wait, and were having their own little OTR on that hill. While they were all struggling in various stages to climb it, the Legend driven Sudhir Kashyap comes up and runs up in zigzag pattern all around them and goes over the top before they could blink. According Dev, it was one jaw-dropping performance from a Legend wearing highway tyres.

When Sudhir saw the hold-up, he and Hari Singh got into the Legend and drove through bushes and non-existing paths to reach the congestion point. He didnít even wait long enough for us marshals to get in.

Apart from me, there was another guy who was photographing whole day. He was Ashok Kumar Tiwari representing Auto Track magazine and VASA Autosports. As the light was fading, our day was coming and end. So we started walking down hoping to catch some ride back to the club. Soon we notice this open Commander 650 Jeep with unoccupied seats. The driver welcomes us (no physical barrier, remember) to hop on and we start talking. His name was Chengappa, and he was the honorary secretary of Coorg Adventure Club. This LWB 2003 commander Jeep was bought specifically for adventure purposes. While speaking to him, I soon realised that here was a pro-Jeeper. In fact he was involved in the recce to some extent.

As we take-off, I realise that the trail has become even worse. Chengappa says he had driven this trail previous day on 2WD, and today it begs for 4WD. Also, he doesnít have working brakes since the drums are wet after the river crossing. Anyway, we drive up the incline fishtailing in many places. As we reach the end, everybody in the Jeep applauds the superb driving. Chengappa turns around to acknowledge and is shocked to find 6 passengers. Well, we were just helping him get better traction.

As we continue on, there is a race on between us and a participant Jeep that cut us off. Chengappa was pumping the brakes often to recover his brakes and succeeds pretty soon. The other Jeep driver is not aware of the procedure and is struggling with the brakes. Chengappa wants to get ahead, but the other Jeep blocks the move everytime. We are ripping through narrow twisting tar road and Chengappa is honking continuously to put some sense into the other driver who is driving without brakes. Everybody is holding their breath and I am getting alarmed. Then I look at the speedometer to get the measure of this madness. And I started laughing loud, we were racing at 41kmph, as I spread that info, everybody is laughing and the tension is released. Chengappa says ďWell, what can I do, he ainít going any fasterĒ. Through those narrow twisting roads, and in open Jeep, it sure felt fast.

Before we realise, we are back at the club, and I offer to photograph and superb driver and his ride.

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It was exactly 6PM. As I look around I see all the parked vehicles from the event.

Ignore the pesky WagonR and the other car, they are in the wrong line-up.

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After not having Airtel signal whole day, I call my wife and she says she is next to the lunch area playing carrom with the son. I finally have lunch at 6:30PM, and meet the Udupi team downing their Fosters. They had absolute fun and were driving back same night. By 7PM, I see Aditya walking up for his lunch. My son and I have dessert along with them and we get back to the room. As I got out of the Gum boots and wet socks, I am pleasantly surprised to find that I am unscathed from any leach bite despite fighting so many of them. However, I did find couple of punctures next day when it started itching.

Couple of hours later we went out to the restaurant for dinner, I didnít eat much after my extra-late lunch. However, we got to meet Sudhir again who had just returned. Then a young lady from BOSCH joined us and I discovered she was in the orange Scorpio. Apparently they returned to the club by 12:30PM and went off to TalaCauvery. She had hardly experienced the event. After talking about OTR and other adventures for long, I asked her to get out and experience open Jeep next time around.

By late night my legs were killing me. I realised I was walking or standing around 95% of the day, I sat in Jeeps only when they were moving or raining. But I recovered my legs splendidly next day morning. BTW, Club Mahindra in Coorg is a beautiful resort; I got to notice that only in the morning.

After meeting couple friends in Madikeri we had lunch at East West and started back at 2PM, we drove through the same route and reached home at 6:15PM.

This time around the Grand Vitara didnít get to any off-roading, but this is how it looked that evening. This is the courtesy of Madikeri-Puttur highway.

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And that concludes this long report on the 45th Mahindra Great Escape. I didn't get to drive even a bit, yet I enjoyed covering it as a photographer.
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Old 29th September 2008, 20:04   #34
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Amazing samurai. I am sure you would have made up your mind to come here again in your jeep and try this trail. Maybe it would not have much waiting time then.
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Old 29th September 2008, 20:30   #35
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Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
Amazing samurai. I am sure you would have made up your mind to come here again in your jeep and try this trail. Maybe it would not have much waiting time then.
Exactly! I thought of it the very same day. Since this entire stretch is public road, just a bunch of us can get together and drive.
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Old 29th September 2008, 20:51   #36
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One of the best offroad reports ive read yet on TBhp. You surely are lucky to capture the entire action without being at the wheel. excellent pictures and video to capture much of the essence of the event. Enjoyed every bit of reading it.
I just wish that there were more such events across the country which supported a varied mix of 4x4 vehicles. Im sure there may be many amateur enthusiasts like me who would love to participate in an organized 4x4 event.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience.
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Old 29th September 2008, 21:11   #37
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Very much impressed by the track & action pictures.
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Old 29th September 2008, 21:29   #38
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Wonderful report Samurai! You literally took us thru the whole experience.

I think the next time we will have more participants from T-BHP itself. All the jeep owners seems to be doing the initial runs and getting to know OTR driving and more are joining the crowd as the days go by.
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Old 29th September 2008, 21:44   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
... Every budding off-roader after the first OTR event comes to realise one thing. You can never judge a terrain from the photograph, and it is the simple looking tracks that give maximum heartburn.
How true... damned be the off-roader that ingnores the 'simple looking' track :-)

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..... Here is an interesting observation I made about most Scorpio and even Bolero driver/passengers. Most of them kept their windows rolled up and never got out even when they were waiting or being winched out. As the BOSCH lady later told me, they didnít want to deal with leaches and other jungle things. So they mostly stayed inside the vehicles in full A/C and viewed the event from behind the glass window.

...... the Scorpios and Boleros with windows rolled up were just not approachable. I mean I have to knock on the glass to talk to them, and when they roll it down, they will be like ďwhat do you want?Ē Who wants to deal with that? In other words, by rolling up the window, they were unwittingly sending the ďleave us aloneĒ message. It is hard to develop new friendships like that. Therefore, most strangers I spoke to were the ďdoor less JeepĒ kind. And I mean no offense to ďrolled up window SUVĒ kind, it is just an observation I made.
You should have just left these folks there itself and not winched them. You should have had them get out and made sure that they got muck, slush, leeches etc.. No offence, but such people should stay home and better go to malls and not to OTR's.

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Then the passenger wants to know whether it is related to LCD. So I explain LSD (not LCD) and the benefits.
hahahaha.. That's funny and hilarious.

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
The offroad trail used here is rather straight forward and simple by general off-roading standards. The Soligere trail is much more difficult in my opinion....
The Soligere trail, with rains, through the Muthathi route will be a nightmare. It has rocky pebble stones and jutting rocks, rocky ruts combined with 90* turns at steep inclines and cliff downwards on other side.

having said that, each trail can change character many times over. for example a simple trail can become a total wreck once 20 jeeps go though it..
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Old 29th September 2008, 21:59   #40
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Oh, thats an excellent report. Like a live show Thanks samurai for offering us this.

Together with your report + photos, we could feel what those drivers were feeling. Ofcourse not 100% but near there.
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Old 29th September 2008, 22:02   #41
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Just one word Marvelous! Seeing all these pics & report was a wonderful experience. Open jeeps & 4X4ís doing OTR have always fascinated me. Now these pics are tempting me to join the growing family of jeepers.
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Old 29th September 2008, 22:16   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
I just wish that there were more such events across the country which supported a varied mix of 4x4 vehicles. Im sure there may be many amateur enthusiasts like me who would love to participate in an organized 4x4 event.
Actually you can, there are such events happening regularly.

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You should have just left these folks there itself and not winched them. You should have had them get out and made sure that they got muck, slush, leeches etc.. No offence, but such people should stay home and better go to malls and not to OTR's.
Well, they are nice once the barrier is removed. The Shell guy was very friendly once the window came down.

May be we should hold placards that say "Lower the windows and join the event".
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Old 29th September 2008, 22:42   #43
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Thanks Samurai for a very entertaining and involving report. May I suggest , a new career path involving photography, traveling and off-roading .
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Old 30th September 2008, 06:57   #44
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Quote:
Samurai: Later I met or saw few more Jeepers who were not exactly in touch with their inner-Jeep.
Another example of why you are a master story teller. Lovely and enjoying reading this.
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Old 30th September 2008, 10:55   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
On first look, that doesn't seem to be a Classic. Rather a 340 makeover.
Yeah, there are lots of such imposters around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Samurai : Did you see any petrol 540's? Mahindra had a handful of these Jeeps powered by an FI version of the Contessa 1.8 engine. Couldn't match the diesels on low-end torque, but they were an absolute riot with their high-rpm scream and wheelspins!
Not that I noticed, there were very few petrols on that day.

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Originally Posted by wolg View Post
Thanks Samurai for a very entertaining and involving report. May I suggest , a new career path involving photography, traveling and off-roading .
Well, I am not good enough to make a living by photography, travelling and offroading. I'll hold on to my current job.

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Another example of why you are a master story teller. Lovely and enjoying reading this.
Yeah, move over James Rollins. Actually, I make so many grammar mistakes, any self-repecting editor would chuck out my write-up from a top-storey window, and on second thoughts might jump out along with it. If the English Police from our Grammar thread ever read my long travelogues, they might just rollover and say "Lord, take me". That may not end their misery either, they might continue to roll in their graves.
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