So I took my Jeep to a Rover event. First of all, I lent Bruce the courtesy of asking for permission to do so, so that helped. And granted, some of the hard-core Rover dudes did seem to get a bit miffed by the whole thing but luckily most didn’t. That said, there are few off-road enthusiasts more passionate and brand-loyal than Land Rover folk. Those who have been Rover owners like to say that “misery loves company” is the reason, but I think it’s much more than that. More than any other enthusiast group I’ve come across, Rover people are in it for the vehicles and the camaraderie that goes along with them. The wheeling is really secondary, more of an excuse to get together than a goal in and of itself.
And Winter Romp is no exception. Groups usually linger over breakfast at Big G’s until at least 10:30am or so and then make their way back to Bruce’s for more conversation “with the bonnet’s (hoods) up.” Only when there’s a slight pause in the continuous din of Rover talk do you start hearing engines fire up and groups taking off for the trails. People just grab some buddies and follow the network of trails that have already been broken. You end up wheeling for a few hours and then, when dusk approaches, it’s time to hop off the trail and head to Bruce’s restaurant choice for that night.
Usually, the best, and certainly the most challenging, wheeling at Romp is the trail breaking. Serving as trailbreaker at Romp, especially during a snowy winter, is an honored position. A few dedicated guys get together on the Thursday and Friday of Romp weekend and just hit the trails with a vengeance. If you’ve never tortured your truck with driving through two to three foot deep snow for hours on end, you probably haven’t pushed your vehicle to its limits. It’s just crazy hardgoing. Much of the time, you have to lunge at the bow wave of snow ahead of you, progress four or five feet, and then reverse and start again.
Transmissions overheat, axles snap, steering gets pooched, you name it but it must be done. This year, Jay MacDonald of Holliston, Massachusetts, and Jamil Abbasy of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, were the trailbreakers extraordinaire. Jay drives a huge ’84 Chevy full size pickup on 42” Swamper TSLs, and Jamil drives an ’08 JK on 37” BFG KM2’s.
The terrain at Romp runs the gamut. You’ll have flat logging roads, deep water crossings, rocky trails, tight trails that squeeze you in between trees, and snowy hill climbs where big power and a heavy foot are the order of the day. Lots of rompers like to use tire chains, but most resort to just airing down the tires as low as possible.