BushBABES GEROTEK OFF-ROAD TRAINING
Our core Bush Babes have had their fair share of 4×4 training over the past year. But are they familiar with the Isuzu KB, and are they ready to rough it? Since Isuzu is the main sponsor of all Bush Babes projects, the girls thought it wise to spend a day at the Isuzu Off-Road Academy, and get to grips with these off-roading beasts
Text: Leilani Basson
Photography: Jannie Herbst and Leilani Basson
The Babes were impressed, albeit sceptical at first. They’ve become accustomed to the stylish and sometimes softer off-roaders on, well, soft safaris and adventures. This was their first real taste of bundu bashing and obstacle conquering in a BJS (Bos, Job en Shop vehicle).
This experience is crucial in preparation for the many overlanding excursions that lie ahead this year, courtesy of Isuzu and the academy.
Navigating the sand on their recent Ponta Ambush was easy. “Four high”, 0,8 bar in the tyres and momentum was all it took.
But life (and overlanding) is not just one smooth sand road. So the Bush Babes reckoned they should apply the same logic they do to other relationships, since their affair with Isuzu is set to be a long and fulfilling one.
So the Babes arrived at Gerotek for their date with the MIR (Men In Red) — Grant McCleery, Marius van Vuuren and Chris Prinsloo – the main guys at the Isuzu Off-Road Academy.
The introduction to the indestructible KBs kicked off with a film about the vehicles’ role in Operation Rachel, in which Isuzu helped rid Mozambique of illegal arms caches hidden across the country. Together with the Mozambican and South African Police, Isuzu embarked on a mission that destroyed weapons and ammunition that could have found their way to SA.
Isuzu’s subsequent mission to Angola and Namibia, Operation Mandume, was equally successful, and demonstrated how these tough vehicles had covered thousands of kilometres in difficult terrain without problems.
While most men are familiar with Isuzu’s involvement in these projects, it was new to some of the Babes, and they found it both fascinating and admirable. So they had a second look at the KB’s truck-like exterior and realised the benefits of having such reliable, well-proven vehicles at their disposal. As a seasoned overlander in Africa, the KB surely demanded respect.
Something else that scored high in the Babes’ peace of mind category was that locally produced Isuzu bakkies are made from thicker sheet metal than any other brand.
It was time to let the Babes loose on the Gerotek grounds. There were five teams of two women per vehicle. Grant and his team paid one last visit to each KB to make sure the radios were turned on, the participants were clear about convoy rules and that they knew which button to press on the “walkie talkies” to assist them in doing what they do best – talk!
Grant made no secret of his corporal-style training. He stressed that things needed to happen in a snappy, orderly fashion. No dragging of feet and dawdling when getting out of the vehicles for a demonstration. Quick quick, on the double!
There was a short obstacle course with a few mud pools, steep inclines and sharp bends that tested the girls’ clutch control and ability to accelerate smoothly. It was evident that their skills and confidence had improved tremendously over the last year.
The Babe Mobile – the signature Isuzu vehicle sponsored by the company — also got its first mud baptism and made it through and over the obstacles with ease.
The second part of the day was spent driving around on the farm. Lush trees and thick vegetation created tunnels of foliage through which the train of Isuzus had to crawl. This was real terrain in real time. Our Babes would not be able to reverse and re-do a manoeuvre if they failed the first time.
Listening was the most important aspect of the day. Grant, Marius and Chris did an excellent job of coaching and talking the girls through difficult terrain, and calming them down when they got panicky.
Trusting the vehicle and keeping their feet off the clutch and on the footrest remained the most difficult skill to master. Although Grant told them the Babes were the best ladies group he had encountered, there was still a lot of work to be done before they would be ready for the hard core stuff.
At times, the trepidation in the air was almost tangible. While we managed to get a smile from most of them, some didn’t dare take their eyes off the road. All stiff-armed, long-necked and white-knuckled, they sniggered their way down a steep hill.
There were many challenges — a few muddy hairpin-bends studded with enough rocks to have any vehicle’s hind wheels lift off the ground at one stage or another, loose rocks on steep declines, tight bends and lots of muddy crossings.
It was all concentration as each team listened to Grant’s instructions over the radio and focused on Chris and Marius’s directing and navigating from the outside.
At the end of the day, everyone was a lot more relaxed, and started to trust the KBs. They were getting the hang of it and were starting to enjoy this “do or die” approach to learning that is synonymous with the MIR. Calm and confident, each team paused before a tricky stretch or obstacle, checked the controls and went through all the steps, with Grant’s guidance — “as slowly as possible and as fast as necessary.”
Although the Babes are not exactly where Grant and the team would like them to be, they are confident that after next month’s hard core training weekend at a Special Forces farm in Thabazimbi – where the Babes will be toughened up to extreme levels – they will be ready to tackle more challenging and severe conditions on their Bush Babe excursions. So, watch this space!
JOIN THE BUSH BABES CLUB AND YOU CAN JOIN US ON OUR NEXT TRAINING DAY FREE OF CHARGE.
The Isuzu Off-Road Academy will be hosting ladies training days and weekends, in conjunction with the Bush Babes Adventure and Safari Club, throughout the year. Join now, and don’t miss out!
New Bush Babe members receive
- a year’s subscription to Leisure Wheels magazine,
- a headlamp
- a Bush Babes T-shirt
- a tyre repair kit from LA Sport.
- 15% discount on all online orders from Mammoth Outdoor
Contact Leisure Babe on [email protected]. Check out the Bush Babes’ adventures on Facebook – Bush Babes Adventure and Safari Club — and please “like” them while you’re there!