Week three on the Mongol Rally. By this point, most of our Ralliers have forgotten what home looks like. Hot showers and cosy bedsheets are a distant memory. Three square meals have been replaced by endless bags of shit crisps and the odd bit of filet de roadkill, when they're lucky. The poor bastards.
Thankfully foreigners aren't all as shit as the Daily Mail would have you believe. Random acts of kindness from strangers on the road are what make the Rally such a glorious event. The odd cup of coffee here, the odd complimentary special message there, can make the difference between sweet success and bitter, shameful failure.
The Lucky Ones
Some hit jackpot this week. The Rally Gods blessed them with more fortune than they probably deserve, and they're feeling pretty happy about it. We hope it carries on this way forever for you, you smug gits.
And this team who found that fortune favours the bold.
Then there were these three Turkish chancers who got picked up by team Khan You Good Thing. They only wanted a lift home but the language barrier was a challenge, and now they're on the way to Russia.
There's nothing fortunate about being abducted. Unless you happen to be abducted by a bunch of alcoholic Ralliers who imprison you in a private spa and ply you with booze.
Team Battered Sav found a stranded Aussie whose bike had broken down after the crossing from Iran and took him to the thermal pools in Diyadin. What they didn't tell him is that they hadn't washed for three weeks. That pool was crystal clear before they dunked their biscuits in it.
The Unlucky Ones
Luck doesn't hold out forever. No Rallier escapes without their fair share of disaster and it's all fun and games, until someone loses a leg. Or drinks unfiltered water from a Turkish stream and the world falls out of their arsehole. Like this guy.
Most of the bad luck this week has hit those waiting for ferry crossings. None have had it quite so bad as this team though, who waited so long for a ferry in Turkmenistan that the girl in the bottom right pissed herself.
Not so much unlucky as making a spangly necklace from broken Faberge Eggs, Kerry-Lea from Whizzers of Oz cleverly made her boss promise to donate $100 to Cool Earth every time she maimed herself in an unscheduled dismount.
The road to Mongolia claims vehicular victims every year, and it's always the good that die young. We've lost some of our favourites this week. Vehicles that should have been resigned to the scrapheap years ago but kept on fighting because they're gnarly old bastards who were waiting for a worthy opponent to beat them. They found it in the Mongol Rally. Farewell, old friends.
"Zuk" Retro Polish Firetruck (Team Polish my Sausage) - Killed in Action, some road near Baku, 2017
Cause of death: Water leak, oil leak, broken oil sensor, broken fuel pump, busted spark plug distributor, decimated cylinder.
All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Zuk back together again. After fighting the good fight nobly for nearly three weeks, Polish my Sausage decided to pull the plug on their vehicle's life support machine.
From the team:
"We have decided to take the corpse with us. We're now going to push it onto the ferry and head to Kazakhstan for some Kazakh lovin'."
Good on you guys. May you continue polishing sausages the world over.
"Uwe" Trabant 601 Kombi (Team DDR Devils), Killed in Action, Dogubeyazit, 2017
Cause of death: An explosion in the crankcase.
Despite numerous attempts at reviving Uwe, she finally gave up the ghost on the mechanic's table. Her engine had been making a deathly rattle for a few days prior, but one final push from a Turkish mechanic's heavy hand was enough to see her off.
From the team:
"First hope is that we manage to jump in on some empty seats with some fellow ralliers. Failing that, myself and Kev are going to continue travelling East and make best use of all our visas."
Good luck boys. Like that hooker told you in Azerbaijan, it was fun while it lasted.
This week's photo competition winner
"I might be driving a death trap, but if I die, I'm dying in clean underpants".
Medical Pirates making their grandmothers proud on the Georgian border.
To enter your photos into next week's competition, use hashtag #mongolrallyphotocomp