Off-road in The Netherlands, off-road in the flattest country of the world. Imagine that. Well, I can tell you that there are more off-road opportunities and 4x4 vehicles than you probably think. OK, it is a "little" bit more expensive to do the off-road sport in The Netherlands, but there are still a lot of off-road clubs and off-road opportunities. I must admit, we donít do a lot of rock crawling, but we do have MUD. For mountains (or hills), you have to go to Belgium, Germany or France, which is about 2-4 hours driving. Donít think that the trails are a lot easier over here, they are just different than yours.
At the last Jeep weekend that the Jeep-club organised, there were about 170 men and women, and about 70 Jeeps (CJís and YJís). It all started with very good weather, so almost everyone had the top off. A lot of dust/sand and not much mud, but to make it more fun, you had to pass some creeks and places where there was some mud created by spraying water. Well, that was fun during the route. Of course, there were also playing grounds with more challenging obstacles. Most of these trails are not about time, but more about skills. This means not hitting a tree, post or driving in reverse. You get bad marks if you do these things, and of course the meaning is to get no bad marks. The trails are not very difficult, most Jeeps can do them, but it is all about the skills of the driver. Although, I experience that a Jeep YJ with Spring-Over Axle in stead of a stock Jeep is very handy.
During an organised Jeep weekend, there is more than just off-roading and barbecuing. One of the evenings, the route ended at a place where you can rent mountain bikes/bicycles. After a lot of discussing and cursing, everybody took a bike/bicycle and we were guide through caves. I can tell you, these caves are very dark and the helmets that we had, were not for nothing (the caves were very low and the projecting rocks are very hard).
Off-roading with a 4x4 vehicle is not allowed in all countries of Europe. There are some off-road opportunities on private land, but these are getting scarcer. In the Netherlands you can off-road on public ground, but in most of the countries you can get a fine when doing this. Not only the parts are very expensive, but also the taxes and fuel. Fuel is about 4 to 5 times as expensive as in The USA / Canada. To keep off-roading affordable, all the Jeepers have to share information and knowledge to reduce our collective reliance on high-priced 4x4 specialty shops. This makes everything more interesting. You just have to be inventive or rich to do this sport in Europe.
Now you ask me why Iím going through so much effort to build my Jeep to a performance level, which is probably way beyond anything that Iíll encounter over here? Itís a Jeep thing.