Rickshaw Run reporter Candace Rardon rounds up the action during test driving in Shillong on Friday ahead of the launch on Sunday 9th September:
To the Extreme: Test Driving on the Rickshaw Run
It’s the first official day of test driving in Shillong, the strike is over, and the sky is suspiciously blue – but as our taxi driver Shem said when he dropped us off this morning, “By afternoon, rain will be here. Heavy rain.”
Considering the current state of the pimping ground – think one big mosh pit of red clay and mud – rain is exactly what these teams don’t need.
And yet the groups arrive undaunted, armed with stereo systems and cans of paint. Calls of, “We can’t find ours,” “Where’s our key?” and “Ours is supposed to be blue, not purple,” echo throughout the indoor stadium. Naturally, organised chaos reigns.
It may be confusing, it may be crazy, but there’s one thing the Rickshaw Run isn’t – it definitely isn’t average. Give someone the chance to drive across India in a tuk tuk and it suddenly brings out the extremist in them – but whether that’s extremely prepared, extremely last-minute or extremely chilled out is quite a different story.
Here’s a taste of the many extremes already surfacing in this run’s teams:
Ultra-Pimped Out: Team XXL
When I first meet Gair, Carl and Haus of Team XXL, from Kristiansand, Norway, they hardly seem to notice I’m standing there, so involved are they in pimping their ride. But theirs is no ordinary pimp job – not content to simply slap on a new coat of paint and some speakers, Team XXL have gone one [or make that ten] steps further.
Utilising Carl’s profession as an electrical engineer, this team’s tuk features one solar panel, four extra horns, extra lights [in various shades of orange and blue], chrome drink holders, a GPS, two batteries, and four chargers to keep their assortment of iPhones and iPads juiced up – not to mention a beautiful mess of wires and tape connecting it all together.
When I ask them where exactly their bags will go, Carl replies nonchalantly: “Oh, on the roof.”
Ultra-Documented: Team Rub A Dub Dub
For the three guys in Team Rub-A-Dub-Dub – Cheem from Malaysia and Mark and Joe from Singapore, all professional photographers and videographers working for companies like Red Bull – the Rickshaw Run is far from a holiday.
After seeing some friends’ footage from one of last year’s runs, the team thought, “Let’s just do this ourselves.” And not ones to travel light, they’ve brought along over 100kgs of gear – including cameras, mics, tripods, and light stands – and can only hope their roof rack stands the test. “We’re going to film the whole thing, and then hold an exhibition once we get back and give the proceeds to Frank Water.”
I tag along on one of their test drives and laugh as we fly over speed bumps, attempt U-turns in lunchtime rush hour, and stall out several times on hills. “I don’t know what’s worse – the vehicles or the potholes,” Mark says.
But hey – at least it’ll all be on camera.
Ultra-Relaxed: Where The Tuk Are We?
If Team XXL is an example of remembering everything, then team ‘Where The Tuk Are We?’ – made up of Mike and J.J. from San Francisco – have attempted to take things in the opposite direction – with a laidback approach that goes something like, “We’ll figure things out when we figure them out…and if we don’t, we’ll still survive.”
Camped out in the pimping ground, they spend the afternoon adding a few racing stripes to their flashy red Adventurists design. The fact that drops of bright blue paint are dripping down the sides and onto the ground doesn’t seem to bother them.
When I ask when they signed up for the run, J.J. says, “We haven’t signed up. We just wandered by and asked if there was a spare rickshaw.” Naturally – all the way from San Francisco.
Not even an hour later, they’ve decided to scratch the design altogether in favour of bold black flames and a cobra’s head on the back. “But who knows,” Mike quips, “It may change again tomorrow.”
And knowing this team, it probably will.