Last month I went to the Overland Rally in Hollister, CA, a weekend of classes, camping, and overland community, where travel, vehicle prep, driving, and navigation were all on topic. For example…

On international travel: if you’re traveling through a town and you don’t see any women or children, something is wrong. That said, the world is a pretty safe place and trouble is usually highly localized and easily avoided.

On vehicle prep: the most important change you can make on a vehicle is tires. Select ones that are suited to the environment in which you’ll be driving. For example, mud terrain tires work in mud but not on asphalt and snow.

On navigation: if you end up lost, stop. Figure out where you are (by plotting your GPS coordinates on a map or using a compass to triangulate your position from known points); make a plan; and proceed by dead reckoning (traveling a certain distance, on a known heading, from a known position) or by plotting GPS coordinates every few miles. Precision is the key. An error of a few millimeters on the map can translate into a few thousand feet on the trail. When following your compass, don’t forget to account for magnetic deviation (the difference between magnetic north and true north).

On driving: using the brake and the gas simultaneously (known as left-foot braking) can reduce wheelspin when climbing in low-traction situations. It also makes bottoming out while climbing over obstacles less likely because applying the brakes dampens suspension movement and therefore vehicle bounce. It’s a very good technique.

Besides the classes, the best part was meeting so many great people.

Here are some scenes from the action.

Update: here’s another great post about the rally from Anthony at Overland Nomads.

In the undulating terrain section, wheel placement was key. Here Kristian negotiated his Discovery through while Nathan offered insight.

Syncros like to wheelie.

Aneel maneuvered his Defender 110 over the last frame-flexing hump.

A vanagon waited to climb the cement stairs.

The cement stairs provided a great opportunity to practice left-foot breaking.

Veteran racing driver Emily Miller coached technique...

...and offered post-climb feedback.

Overland Journal publisher, Scott Brady, explained what to do if find yourself reading one of those “If you can read this, flip me over” bumper stickers.

Despite incredible flex this Sportsmobile’s right, rear tire stayed on the rim.

Nick tackled the frame twister in his Range Rover Classic.

Anthony's well-prepared 80-series at the campground

On Sunday morning we all lined up for a navigation and closed-course obstacle challenge.

The Sportsmobile on the obstacle course

Ryan and Clay from Expedition Overland had no trouble getting their 100-series Land Cruiser through the mudhole...

...and made quick work of the course.