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The Inaugural Ladies Offroad Network Convention

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At the beginning of August I attended the inaugural Ladies Offroad Convention in Colorado Springs. It was a busy weekend of fun and learning. On Thursday I flew to Denver where I met up with 4 of the other ladies going, and we shared a shuttle provided by the convention to Colorado Springs. Everybody's flights were slightly later than scheduled because of the weather, so my new friend Theresa from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, and I hung out with our driver William in the shuttle van waiting for the other girls.



Diane and Theresa wait in shuttle van for the rest of the girls


Since everybody was a little late getting in, we were a little late to the convention. And since I manned a station at the registration mixer, I hit the ground running. I don't have any pictures of my killer demo station, but it was a big hit and a lot of fun to do. It featured 2 uses of Ziploc baggies in offroad, which I introduced as 'How to save the world' and 'How to save your own ass'. One is simply putting your used toilet paper in a ziploc instead of leaving it on the ground, and the other is a kit I learned about in my wilderness first aid class. My favorite other station was by Megan from Firebaugh (scottL, remember Firebaugh?). She had photographs of various car parts laid out on the table. Each had a corresponding card with the name and brief description, and the idea was to match the words with the pictures. I aced it. ;)


After checking in and freshening up, I headed back to the ballroom for dinner. I want to give a huge shout out to Bower Motorsports Media, Charlene Bower and the Hotel Elegante for their meticulous attention to detail and caring. It's easier for me to list the foods that I DO eat than those I don't, so I was a little worried about whether I'd starve to death while I was there. But imagine my pleasure when our waitress brought a special plate for me and several other ladies with dietary restrictions, and that happened with every meal (except Friday morning when I had to fall back on my stash).


The evening's theme was Crazy Shirt Night, and boy were there some!! After dinner Bonnie and Charlene inspired us speaking about "It's Your Journey". Then Charlene introduced Michael Morrison, a I4WDTA certified trainer from Overland Experts and 36 Hours of Uwarrie. Michael had set up a driving course game, and demonstrated it with Charlene (who we trusted to keep her eyes closed, while our teams' drivers were blindfolded!). Every evening we found some sweet swag at our tables, and Thursday's gifts were provided by TNT Customs (Mary from TNT was there!), and our 'drivers' used the survival masks as blindfolds while us 'navigators' wore our neon green caps.


It was a lot of laughs (okay, we got a little rowdy), and it was so much fun I'm bringing it to the Cinders this year! Who wants to win some tshirts? :cool:



Michael Morrison navigates as Charlene Bower drives the obstacle course



Maneuvering around the pillar during the navigating game



Me & my teammate were called 'The Chuck Drivers'


Bright and early Friday morning our first seminar was Social Media 101 during breakfast. We learned a lot of great techniques, terminology and do's & don't's of using social media:



Social Media 101 class at Ladies Offroad Convention


We had break out classes the rest of the day. My first class was 'Outdoor Photos & Story Writing', which wasn't my first choice, because I thought I knew all about that. But I was wrong! I learned a lot of great tips and tricks, as well as some informative behind-the-scenes tasks to improve website traffic.


From there I headed outside for 'Recovery 101' with Michael Morrison, where we learned everything you ever wanted to know about synthetic vs. cable winch lines, winching safety, how to do a self-recovery using a pull-pal, methods of doubling winch capacity using snatch block or pulley, proper use of tree straps, hand signals for winching and why hand signals are better than words while winching, and correct winch spooling technique.



Recovery 101 class with Michael Morrison at Ladies Offroad Convention



Jaime & Diane learning self-recovery using Pullpal in Recovery 101 class



Jaime & Diane and Pullpal self-recovery a success!


We also got hands on lessons about how to safely use a High Lift jack, and how to keep myself out of the danger zone while jacking up or down. I always thought the little wire gizmo on the handle of a high lift was only there to hold the handle up while not in use. But while jacking the Jeep down, Michael let the handle go before hitting a full click; once without the gizmo, and once with it. When the gizmo was not in place, he let go and the jack handle slapped up and down like crazy a bunch of times completely out of control! But when he did the same thing with the wire gizmo in place, the jack handle slammed up and stuck, thus demonstrating it's real purpose! A true aha moment for me.



High-lift jack safety at Ladies Offroad Convention


After lunch Charlene introduced us to Brad Lovell of Lovell Racing, who was my next instructor for 'Trailer Towing 101'. Some of the information was a review for me such as ball size, how the hitch works, brake controller, etc. But I learned some new things such as proper weight distribution, safety checks while on the road, and actual behind the wheel trailer backing. Although I knew about turning the opposite of the way you want to go, I had never experienced following through after making the corner before. Charlene lent her truck & trailer for the lessons, and gave us a little demo to start.



Brad Lovell, Charlene Bower, Michael Morrison at Ladies Offroad Convention



Brad Lovell teaches trailer safety at Ladies Offroad Convention



Charlene Bower demonstrates how to back up a trailer


All morning I had been prepared for whatever weather Colorado offered. By lunchtime I was sweating so I stopped off at my room and shed some layers. Naturally, it cooled off dramatically and began to pour soon afterward. ;)



Colorado: if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes


So the rest of the outdoor classes were transferred to under the portico at the front entrance of the hotel so we could get out of the rain. There was a classic car collectors group arriving that afternoon, and the looks on their faces and questions about what we were doing were pretty humorous.



Ladies Offroad Convention seminars moved to hotel entrance due to rain


In my next class Brad Lovell taught us how to safely change a tire BY OURSELVES! After removing the flat, he demonstrated how to roll the spare onto a lever of some sort (in this case we used a jack handle, but I could easily use my shovel), to lift the tire into place. Once you've got the topmost hole on the stud, it's easy to kick the lever out of the way and start that bolt. I was so empowered by this! I've worried about what would happen if I ever had to manage this on my own, and now I have a solid technique to fall back on if it ever happens.



Brad Lovell demonstrates easier way to change a tire


Look at this neat idea from BFGoodrich! It's a handy ground cover cushion for tire changes and repairs out in the field. It folds in half and stashes real easily:



BFGoodrich tire changing mat


My last class that day was 'Vehicle Inspection 360' where Michael Morrison taught us what to check and how to check it on a basic pre-trail walk around inspection. I learned a lot I thought I already knew, and he even had the opportunity to go over some differences between independent suspension and solid front axle. :)



Vehicle 360 Inspection class


Friday night's theme was 'Crazy Hat Lady'. Here's some of us getting ready to go into the ballroom; you should have seen the looks on peoples' faces!! Really nice gifts awaited us in the dining room from Warn, Raceline Wheels and BFGoodrich. I scored a very nice Raceline hat and some other goodies.



Ready for Friday night's themed party Crazy Hat Lady



Gathering for Friday night dinner at Ladies Offroad Convention



Ladies Offroad Convention 'Crazy Hat Lady' night


Our speakers that night on the topic of 'Why Women Make Great Racers', were Charlene Bower and Cora Jokinen, the owner of Torq Masters Industries, makers differential lockers.



Charlene Bower gives the opening speech Friday night at the Ladies Offroad Convention



Cora Jokinen of Torq Masters on 'Why Women Make Great Racers'


Saturday we got to enjoy an activity of our choosing. Our choices included a Cave of the Winds tour, Pike's Peak activities (if you could hitch a ride in someone's rig), and I went with a group to ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. It was a fun and scenic ride in a very nicely maintained old train alongside the Arkansas River. We saw river rafters, and gondola and zip-line rides high above us.



Royal Gorge Route Railroad



Getting ready to go for a ride! Choo-choo!!!!!



Classy old train alongside Arkansas River



Old wooden pipeline served Canon, CO



Rafters in the Arkansas River we saw from the Royal Gorge Route Railroad


When we returned to the convention center it was time for 'Offroad Style', a round-table discussion about various 4x4 topics (no, not what to wear wheeling). Everyone contributed and we learned some neat ideas and about each other. Then it was time to go get ready for our Saturday dinner theme: '80's Day-Glo Party'! We each had some gifts waiting for us from Bower Media and Yukon Axle & Gear. Our speakers were Alice Gerst and Charlene Bower on 'Adding Value to a Rock', which was inspiring since we had each enriched ourselves over the weekend.



A bright gathering for last night at Ladies Offroad Convention



Clifford scored a new bottle opener from Yukon Axle & Gear


The evening's activity involved teams of 2 trying to fold Charlene's Rebelle Rally tent in the fastest time. My partner Jessica Chasse and I were only 2 seconds off from the first place team, and we tried to better our time but we couldn't beat them. It was a crazy great time, so I'm bringing it to the Cinders also, and you don't even have to dress like Cyndi Lauper to compete!!



Attempting to fold Charlene's Rebelle Rally tent



Tabitha from Jeeples tries to fold the Rebelle Rally tent



Heidi Rowan finds folding Charlene's Rebelle Rally tent is hard work



Hotel Elegante wait staff looking on as girls try to fold the tent



Ladies Offroad Convention Party like it's 1985


Sunday morning we attended a brunch and closing ceremony. Some of us had to leave for the airport, but many of the ladies stayed for a charity event that Charlene had arranged. We took up a collection and they bought car maintenance stuff like antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid and wiper blades, and went to a women's shelter to teach the residents how to check and top off fluids, install wipers, etc. They also brought toys for the kids and gave them rides in their Jeeps around the parking lot. It was a very enriching experience from reading their story.



Closing ceremony at Inaugural Ladies Offroad Convention


I was exhausted and energized by the time I got home Sunday afternoon. I felt empowered by the many things I had learned and skills I had mastered while I was there. I felt and continue to feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm for offroading and exploring, and for bonding with other women who share my love of 4x4. Thank you Offroad Passport for sending me on this incredible weekend experience!

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Wow. Looks like a GREAT time and learning experience. Thanks for sharing "D"... ;)

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That's so cool! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful time!

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