Another Jeeper named Scott, who drives a YJ, is doing White Line here. I'm not sure if its tire placement or suspension that is giving him trouble. But whatever it is, you can see his driver's side front tire is making its way into the air while Rick jumps onto his rocker protector for ballast. It took two other guys on the up hill side of Scott's YJ to keep him down on the bedrock. He slowly worked his way backwards and opted to take the bypass once he got turned around. By this point, we were beginning to think the bypass was a bit easier, but not by much.
Somewhere down the trail from White Line is a nasty little gouge in the bedrock that the guys call the Z-Turn. Now, anyone that has been to Moab and ran the Moab Rim Trail should be familiar with its Z-Turn obstacle. I am happy to report that our version of the Z-Turn is harder than the one at Moab. I did Moab's version a couple of years ago when I was still running 32" tires and a 2" suspension lift. Comparing that with our local Z-Turn where I had 35" tires and a 6" lift....I believe I worked harder for today's yardage than I did in Moab.
One of the XJs with us was driven by a fella named Joe. Actually, he goes by FlexyXJ on the local e-mail reflector. Once you see his brand new and fire engine red XJ on the rocks, you'll know he got his nickname. Anyway, since we had such a mix of Jeeps, you know there had to be some bantering going back and forth between the TJs and the XJs and the YJs. All during the trip, you would hear something like "It's a TJ thing and you wouldn't understand". "It's a YJ with open diffs thing and you could never understand" was heard after Joey climbed an obstacle near the end of the trail.
Well, I can't let such an opportunity pass me by, so I'll have to say, in regards to the above picture of FlexyXJ, "It's an XJ thing and at least 4 of us understood completely!" Joe being Joe, he had to take the more (most?) difficult exit line out of the Z-Turn. This was NOT a long wheel base favored line. But as the song goes "I get by with a little help from my friends, oh, I get by with a little help from my friends".
With FexyXJ clear of the Z-Turn, it was my turn to give it a try. Joey asked if he could ride shotgun. Although I didn't say anything to him at the time (I thought better of scaring him off), I realized my driving skills, after all these trails, must be getting a bit better. Heck, no one has ever asked to ride an obstacle with me driving! So, we got strapped in tight and dropped off of the first ledge and into the obstacle. I should comment here that FlexyXJ, being a bit longer in the wheel base department, gave all of us an impressive display of the "XJ teeter-totter" technique of getting down this ledge. You can see where my passenger rear tire is in the above photo. Well, FlexyXJ's rear was about there and his front left tire was further up on the bedrock. The result was a pretty cool balancing act, bobbing back and forth between his passenger front and driver rear tires touching the ground. With his front and rear lockers, it was not a problem for him to have a lifted wheel on each axle. Lockers, ya gotta love them!
Russell caught me in the middle of the Z-Turn with this photo. He was sitting up on the bank (I said this obstacle was pretty much a gouge in the bedrock) behind me. We all know that photos never capture the true intensity of the moment....but I hope you can appreciate this one for what it was. (No, he didn't hold the camera sideway either. You can see Scott spotting me in the photo and he is vertical to the world.) I would love to see this trail with a gully-washer type monsoon rain storm poor some water down through here. Note that I did not say I wanted to be down in it, but I sure would like to see it from the top of the bank.
I'm almost out....the last ledge is in sight. (And you can see Russell, in a white T-shirt, sitting up on the bank.) Several of the guys commented about the exit chute being easier than it use to be. I'm sure it is possible, but I was satisfied with the challenge presented me here. That rock that is just off of my rocker panel protector....my rear tire tracked half way up that as I made the turn and kept my front right fender out of the rocks. FlexyXJ commented that this part of the obstacle has been the starting point for a number of flat-fender conversion projects!
Scott did a nice job of spotting me through this obstacle. I'm just climbing through the last few yards of it. What I learned from driving it, and his direction, I applied to getting Mike through, pretty much unscathed. Oops, did I unscathed? Well, maybe we need to modify that statement just a bit. Maybe you should take a look at this?
BF Goodrich AT Sidewall Blowout
All I can say is that I was running the video camera when Mike started the Z-Turn. After we realized that he had not rolled a bead, but rather put a 2" long rip in the sidewall, we got down to the business of stabilizing the vehicle and changing the tire. A HI-Lift jack under the rock panel protector gave us some working room while a bottle jack put under the driver's end of the axle gave us the clearance we needed. Some of the guys caught lunch while Mike and I got the spare mounted. After the fresh spare was on, I spotted Mike through the remainder of the obstacle. As he rolled over the rocks, we kept hearing some air leaking, as though a bead were separating for a brief moment (not uncommon for this trail). After Mike cleared the last ledge, we checked his driver's side rear tire and discovered a less serious hole in that sidewall too. By less serious, I mean it was a slow leak until you compressed the sidewall just right and then the air leaked pretty fast. We fired up my QA2 and put some more air in it (he was down about 4 psi from when he had aired down. On a happy note, he was able to finish the trail with no apparent loss of pressure.
Update 11/27/01: I got e-mail from Mike today. He gave me an update on the tire situation. When he went outside the following morning, after the trail run, and discovered that his right front tire was flat too. He applied some soap and water and found the sidewall on it was bubbling (slowly, but still bubbling). So, he took out 3 BFG ATs on one run, all sidewall damage. He was happy to tell me that he is now the owner of 5 brand new Goodyear MT/R tires.
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