We recently learnt that two of our editorial staff couldn’t tell their diff locks from their low range. To rectify the situation, we sent them to the General Tire (GT) Adventure Academy at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve near Worcester.
Two of our newer journalists took our long-term Mitsubishi Pajero to the General Tire (GT) Adventure Academy at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve in the Western
Cape, near Worcester, to gain some official off-road driver training.
We (Leisure Wheels chief sub editor Alan Valkenburg and digital content editor Elise Kirsten) were greeted warmly by instructors PG Groenewald and Arnold Muller when we arrived at Klipbokkop conference venue, set in the mountains overlooking the Brandvlei Dam.
With coffee and rusks in hand, we sat down for a bit of theoretical training and PG proceeded to talk us through diff locks, low range, open diffs, tyre tread and the benefits of independent versus solid axle suspension.
GT Adventure Academy doesn’t offer separate beginner’s and advanced 4×4 training courses, but PG says that what they offer is a general platform course, with the idea that you continue to practise and build your skills over time. After PG had ascertained our off-roading prowess (or lack thereof) we deflated our tyres to to 1.2 bar and set off on the adventure.
We headed to the quarry where we engaged all four wheels before being instructed to drive halway up a 26-degree incline. When we reached the designated point, we practised a simulated stall (driving an automatic, we had to pretend) and then performed a controlled reverse manoeuvre before making our way up out of the quarry via another steep, rutted incline. We then returned to the bottom of the quarry, traversing a parallel steep decline.
We ‘played’ in the quarry a bit more before heading to the nearby Brandvlei Dam where we enjoyed a picnic lunch. Arnold took this opportunity to enlighten us about some recovery equipment and how to use it.
After lunch, we headed to the sand trap and proceeded to tackle the soft stuff, taking turns to navigate the sharp bends, deep troughs and a couple of inclines.
The inclines were steep and long enough to test us, although we may need some more practice if we want to head up one of the towering dunes in the Namib. We would love to claim that we mastered everything the reserve threw at us but just when we thought we’d nailed it, the sand trap lived up to its name. Fortunately there was no digging involved, we just had to reverse and try again. With a little more momentum, we made it up and around the course without further incident.
I WANT TO GO, TOO
The General Tire (GT) Adventure Academy is focused on training 4×4 drivers on a variety of terrains to promote safety and responsibility.
Vehicles are provided although you’re welcome to bring your own 4×4 if you’d prefer.
Training can be booked on an individual basis and will take place in a small group (normally about 3 to 5 vehicles) on specified dates. The course runs from 10am until about 4pm. More specialised training courses can be customised according to your needs and facilitated team-building experiences are also offered.
Text: Alan Valkenburg and Elise Kirsten