Get To Work: Off-Road Bulking Season

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Every sport has an off-season, a time when players have a chance to recover and rebuild from the battles that happened during the year. It is also a time that gives players to improve themselves. Maybe they didn’t hit has well as they could have, or rush as many yards as they wanted.

The off-season is time to come back stronger, improved, and better than the year before. Like a weightlifter during his bulking phase, he is just concerned with getting bigger. The sport of off-roading is no different.

For off-roaders in Southern California, the summer months mean temperatures increase, making it harder on vehicles to perform like they do in the cooler weather. Off-road projects are brought into the garage and prepped for the next season.

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When the temperature is down, the off-roaders come out to play.

Most enthusiasts head out to find water to beat the summer heat. The Colorado River is a popular spot with plenty of summer activities, which range from river floats to bringing out the boats or jet skis.

The real magic, in our eyes, happens in the garage. The weather may be hot, but the work performed in the garage is impressive. This regrouping phase allows owners to rebuild broken parts, adjust something that did not work properly, or do a complete overhaul to reach the next level. We understand that not everyone stops what they are doing over the summer to give up all hope of off-roading, but there are is a large group of us that uses this time to make our vehicles something else.

It may seem counter-productive to some as if it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside and we are working on our vehicles, but getting some friends together with an ice chest filled with drinks and a truck to work on is just as great as an evening bonfire.

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Some of the top off-road racing events occur during the cooler months. In February there is King of the Hammers, and in November there is the Baja 1000.

Off-Road Seasons

For desert rats, the off-road season in Southern California runs from October to April. The fun kicks off around Halloween and runs until temperatures hit triple digits. Some years, the season is longer than others.

During this time of the year, our off-road vehicles see plenty of abuse regardless of where the rig gets dirty. From the sandy shores of Pismo Beach to the dirt trails in Big Bear, or the desert in Glamis, we put our prized possessions through the ringer.

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We do trail fixes and quick fixes returning from the dirt, but how close we look at the problem is usually pushed aside. Just like a professional race team, each of our vehicles should be looked at and maintained to get as many smiles per gallon as we can.

The season can vary depending on location and the type of off-roading you are going to do, but in no way are we saying do not off-road — we are more concerned with what happens in the off-season for this article.

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How extreme do you want to take your vehicle? How much work do you want to do? These are all thoughts that run through the minds of off-roaders during bulking season.

To Bulk, Or Not To Bulk

The best way that we can compare what the off-roading off-season is to compare it to a bodybuilder. During this time of year when there is no competition, it is a season to gain size and come out the other side as a new person.

This is not something that happens overnight; it takes time and work to create. You are not going to wake up one morning and have a Trophy Truck in your garage if you do not put in the time, and in most cases the money.

Before (left) and after (right) pictures of our 2005 GMC Canyon. The changes may seem extreme, but just wait to see what we have in store for this truck.

A bodybuilder does not get to eat everything in sight and see results; they still need to workout while bulking. For us and our vehicles, we still need to put in the time to make them what we want.

If we want a new suspension, we need to get everything in the install or fabricate it. The off-season is a perfect time to do such changes as you will not feel bad for not making a trip with your buddies to the trail since they won’t be going out.

Like our Canyon, our Jeep TJ has undergone some pretty extreme changes as well. Check out these before (left) and after (right) pictures of the Jeep.

Professional teams create new vehicles in the off-season, like Kyle LeDuc did with a new short-course truck between seasons. Some teams will make a new truck between races like Terrible Herbst Motorsports did, as they built a Trophy Truck in 50 days to go race the Baja 500.

It happens all over the sports world, so there is no black magic and this won’t make you feel like you are doing some new fad. Heck, we are doing it ourselves with our own project vehicles.

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Putting Our Projects Where Our Mouth Is

It is one thing to talk about something, but it is another thing to show it. The term “off-road bulking” came to us when we realized how close to the correlation of bodybuilding our projects are. It was not something done on purpose, just something that happens year-to-year without batting an eye.

We have two vehicles that have been worked on for a seemingly long time since off-road season finished up: Project Redneck and Project Storm Trooper. These two vehicles do completely different types of off-roading, but have one thing in common – both are under construction.

Every project is considered a work in progress, but progress for us has picked up come this time of the year, and we are making radical changes to improve it for the next off-road season.

Off-roading is about creating something that no one else has and making the vehicle fit your needs. We are adding plenty of storage compartments on the back of our TJ.

For the Jeep, we are adding tube fenders, new bumper, winch, new tire carrier, and finishing up the cage. All of these new additions will allow for a better time on the trail when October arrives.

The fenders and bumper will allow for more articulation and approach angle on the trail, while the winch will help get us out of any tight spot we may come across along the trail. The cage will be welded and painted to give us the security we need while out enjoying the outdoors.

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Working on a vehicle may seem like it is never-ending, but in the end, it is all worth it. We installed a long-travel suspension on the front of our prerunner project vehicle.

Project Storm Trooper, our prerunner project, is undergoing some extreme changes as well. You may remember that we added a new long travel suspension up front, well, it is time to do the same to the back. We are working on a new rearend, shocks, and a rear cage. This is going to take the truck to a whole new level.

Next season, we will have two projects that will be nothing like they were at the end of the last off-road season. Off-roading is all about the evolution of your vehicle, taking it from a stock daily driver to something extreme while being able to use the vehicle as much as possible. What are you working on this off-season? Tell us in the comments below.

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About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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