Intro to Overlanding- by: L.W.

There’s a point in every person’s life where they are exposed to something that they know is going to improve the way they experience their life and, in this case their sport of choice, in a profound way.  My introduction to the lifestyle of Overlanding was just this sort of thing and every epic ride I’ve taken since has been influenced by it. So, I know you’re dying to ask, “Just what the heck is Overlanding anyway? And what does it have to do with mountain biking?” I suppose to explain, I should probably start at the beginning.

 A few years ago after a week of riding every grin-inducing, insanely exposed trail available in Moab, UT, I pulled in the City Market to pick up some lunch and supplies before heading back to my home base in Aspen, CO. As I’m pulling in to the parking space, a girl is pulling in to the space nose-to-nose with me. We are both driving late-model Toyota Tacoma pick-up trucks of the same vintage except her truck is tricked out with a bit of a lift and some tires and bumper and some giant thing on the roof of her canopy. This tiny little blonde hops out of the cab at the same time as I do and, she looks at me and she looks at her truck and then she looks at my truck and while she hasn’t busted out into a full smile, the side of her mouth turns up and a dimple emerges in her left cheek and I get the distinct impression that she finds me and my lowly stock-outfitted truck amusing.

 Something about that look sparked something deep within my male pride so, now I had to go over and ask her some stuff about her truck. I mean what the heck was all that stuff anyway and why did she need it?

 I wander around the back of her truck and she has the gate open and canopy hatch up and inside is a gorgeously organized set of modular drawers with all of her stuff put away just so, and then there was this other cooler looking thing, in which she appeared to be rearranging… ice cream bars or popsicles? Now, I’m really intrigued. What the heck is all this stuff and where did she get it? What’s she doing and where is she going?

 So, I start asking questions and she turns and gives me a look that she’s completely comfortable and used to being accosted by unknowledgeable men in grocery store parking lots. It turns out that the thing on the roof is a rooftop tent. A self-righting, gigantic house that has all of her bedding in it and she had it up and camp set in the parking lot in 3.5 minutes. I must admit, I was rather impressed. The OCD, military background in me was seriously coveting her drawer system. And what was the deal with this ice-cream box? Turns out it was a 12 volt fridge-freezer. Not a cooler, no ice required just a hot lead in the back of the truck and she had a full on kitchen as soon as she cracked the tail-gate. This was amazing. A fully self-contained and readily set up camp in minutes!

 We then had a conversation about all of the other aftermarket parts on her truck and their purpose and I did what most men would do when a little blonde who smells like coconut and sugar cookies is giving you a suspiciously knowledgeable lesson on the suspension options for your truck – I tried not to say anything stupid that would make her give me that look like I was amusing her again.

 At the end of it, I learned that Overlanding is a means of self-contained travel by vehicle where no pavement is required and you can get to every killer mountain bike, surf or remote sport location with the most amazing amenities and the ability to set up camp immediately and wherever, whenever. “Glamping,” she quipped. Glamourous camping. The kind a woman would WANT to participate in and find pleasant. This is NOT a girl who will be stuck with the rest of us up on Sand Flats road getting our asses sand-blasted and blown away while we’re stacked on top of each other, listening to each other snore. She’d travel a ways off and set up her glorious truck-toting condo and enjoy the evening.

 As a rabid mountain biker and commercial Outdoor Industry photographer by profession, who basically lives out of his truck, I suddenly needed all of this equipment.

 I asked her if she had a card so I could get in touch with her about where to get these products but she claimed to be all out. A likely story.

 Now I was in pursuit of all things Overlanding. Not sure where to start my research, I bought out EVERY four-wheel drive, truck and travel magazine that I could find on the newsstands. My research turned up nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

 Only after extended web research did I learn that the Land Rover dealership in my valley carried all of this stuff and I promptly went about outfitting my truck and joined the ranks as an Overlander. Ironically, I was already living the lifestyle as an adventure traveler, I just didn’t know that there were actually products that supported this lifestyle and could improve both my career and sporting habits.

 And this is how I ended up traveling across country with team Geronimo to find all the hottest mountain biking trails between Aspen, CO and Port Angeles, WA on the way to the downhill race.


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