The First Sheppard Run

Right around the time of the OF4WD A.G.M. in March, our club The SSO was looking for a way to give back to the 4WD community. We have loved the close nit giving aspects of 4 wheeling during our time, but having people to go with early on was a challenge for all of us. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Finding someone to show you the ropes, and keep your first wheeling trip stress free can be next to impossible. Most of us starting out use our daily driver and can’t afford to have it smashed to pieces Monday morning, a concern most of us veterans don’t share.

So that’s what we decided to do to give back. Take out the new wheelers! Within a few moments Colin (S.S.O. president), and myself had hatched what weekends we could free a Saturday for some wheeling, and roped in a few friends of the Shaggers as well. The Sheppard run was born.

Over the next couple of months we honed our idea into a proper plan. With some sweet talking we swindled training books from the camp NL101 program, courtesy of Carol Ann and Aaron Darling who organize Camp NL. With some minor tweaks we had books for all the participants of the Sheppard run to hold on to and reference in the future. The books the participants get are loaded with everything from trail etiquette to rating systems, they have recommended equipment lists, and safety tips.

We had our participants sign up on the OF4WD website and put the word out through the OF4WD-forum.com, jeepcentral.ca, and throttlehappy.ca forums. The only requirements to join us were a 4wd vehicle, and OF4WD membership.

The response was startling. The run filled up within a couple of days. 16 participants spread out between two trails, all new people and all signed up in two days! This was going to be fantastic, until old Murphy and his law reared their ugly heads. My old reliable Grand Cherokee was more the former and less the latter. The transmission gave up the ghost and left me without a 4WD vehicle for our 4WD event. In a hasty call I replaced myself with not one but two fantastic trail guides. Mr. Brian Sibbles, and the late great Bruce “the Bronco” Horvath stepped up to the plate on short notice. Adrian and the Just Jeeps crew came along as well for some much needed support.

Early on the morning of June 22 we met our eager group of participants in the parking lot of the Tim Hortons of downtown Bobcaygeon. Far too early for most I’m sure, I began our training seminar. We reviewed the books, went through everything and became acquainted with each-other. A crazy array of 4x4s was there in our midst. Most notably a Suzuki SX4, I had some hesitations on letting it come in. Take a second to google it, tell me you wouldn’t hesitate

Around 10am we were done listening to me and on our way to the trails, one group following Colin Jardine to Crystal lake, and the smaller vehicles following Brian to Old Logging Trail including the Zuk.

The day went with hardly a hitch. The little Suzuki I was so worried about, glided over EVERYTHING! Where Brian’s YJ on 38’s would sink the little car would float! Colin’s crew had a couple of flat tires, but a great time nonetheless. The logging crew, had time to trundle down Bass Lake as well and both groups made it back to Bobcaygeon unscathed for refreshments at the Kawartha dairy.

It went so well, that on July 20th the Sheppard rode again with a new group of superb participants. The morning was the same old, same old. Meeting at 8, out to the trails for 10. When we got to the trails is when things changed for the worse. A summer storm the night before had toppled trees all over the five points trail network.

Old logging trail, now lead by Bronco took 8 hours to clear to the end, previously it had only been three. Armed with a chainsaw, with a dull chain, and a fresh tattoo, I went to work cutting through the trail. Bronco winching the fallen trees giving the winch the workout of it’s life. Our participants were fantastic, patient, and incredibly understanding, lending many hands to make the trail cutting light work.

Over on Crystal Lake Colin’s crew wasn’t fairing any better. With the cleanup master Rob Rea and his crew, the trail was cleared in seven hours or so, plus they came to our rescue near the end of the Old Logging trail, when our silk string chain saw ran out of fuel.

Our second outing was still a success despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, and my fears. We didn’t make it back for Ice cream, but Rob brought a mit-full of stickers he handed out as we were airing up.

Sadly we couldn’t do a September run for several reasons, scheduling, a back injury, and the passing of our dear friend Bronco, all lead to the Fall run being cancelled. The SSO will be back again next spring however, ready to train a whole new crew of off roaders.

A Gigantic thanks in no particular order for helping to make this possible.

My SSO Familly
The Darlings
Brian Sibbles
Rob Rea and crew
Sean Kozar
Bruce “Bronco” Horvath, Rest in peace buddy.
And of course
All the guys and gals who came out to make this all worthwhile.

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