Australian adventurists Ronald, Ben & Adam have just finished the Rickshaw Run. They drove a glorified lawnmower from Cochin in the south of India to Shillong, a hill station in the north eastern state of Meghalaya. Here's what they had to say about their two weeks of adventuring stupidity plus some of their finest photos:
Indian roads are utterly crazy (and we avoided the largest cities). I can now fully appreciate the inch-thick stack of deathproof waivers that The Adventurists make you sign off on, because while the pre-run is terrific fun, it all counts for naught when you stare down your first trio of buses driving at you down the wrong side of the freeway with their highbeams on.
At least 4 teams didn't finish - one team had a member who had a heart attack and died briefly [Ed: It was actually a seizure of some kind, now recovering at home]. Another two had other health issues. One pulled out the day after the race started, probably after their first real encounter with the traffic. Which was a bit weak.
The teams that pushed on all had amazing stories of their own. One group drove through an armed extremist hostage negotiation/standoff in one of central states. Another had to fight off an intruder with a screwdriver after he tried to break into their female teammates room at night (then wait in the dark for him to return). One team clipped a bus on the freeway and spent time in hospital. Another team rolled their tuktuk after driving into a cow.
Mechanical-wise we got away pretty lucky... the three days at the shop beforehand clearly paid off on the road. We had a bunch of issues, but were always really fortunate. Our clutch cable didn't snap on a shoulderless mountain hairpin turn, but instead kindly decided to quit on us about 50m from a random motorbike mechanic. Our fuel lines kept getting blocked, but a local showed us how wiggling a stick around the gas tank (temporarily) solved it. We had a flat tyre, but it happened within 5km of a tyre shop. We almost lost our lights at night due to wires rubbing on the wheel, but we caught it in time and fixed it with duct-tape before everything short-circuited.
Considering we were driving from 5am until about 8pm every day on a massively tight timeframe (we ended up making the finish line with just a few hours before the finish party kicked off), it all worked out great.
Compared to other teams who had to have entire engine rebuilds, or hitch rides on the back of interstate trucks, we were incredibly fortunate. Even on the final day within hours of the finish line we saw two teams with blown gearboxes - the second losing their gearbox after attempting to tow the first - leaving them both stranded.
Craziness aside, the best parts though had to be things like the camaraderie between the teams... while we didn't see teams for very long stretches, it was great to remain in contact via SMS and catch up with everyone at the finishing party to hear about how they made it across. Watching India wake up each morning was a peaceful and serene experience, as was seeing parts of India that are normally entirely away from tourist eyes. Seeing a kid's mind get blown as Ben showed him his photo via digital camera for the very first time was something I never really got sick of seeing either - they wouldn't have reacted with any less amazement if Ben could teleport.
It certainly all qualified as an adventure, and while there are a million things that could have gone wrong - all the important parts went right, so that's more than we could have hoped for.
That all said, don't get me wrong - we have our own crazy stories too.
Rickshaw Run photos by team Good Morning Sunshine Squad
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