“We blew the motor 4 times…” Three Brits take on the Rickshaw Run
“We set off on an epic adventure aiming to drive 2,500km across the top of India in a motorised Rickshaw. If any of us had any preconceptions about this being a jolly, they were soon put right on the first day. After taking a wrong turn we ended up stuck in a sand dune in the middle of the desert.
“Over an hour pushing in 43 degree heat (and revving our little girl to the max) we ended up with a blown piston, needing to get towed by an articulated lorry to the nearest town.”
Adam, Jamie and Campbell, from the UK, then spent 5 hours at the garage. They’d started their 2016 Rickshaw Run from Jaisalmer and pointed their tiny three-wheeled adventure machine towards the finish line in Shillong, right over in the far eastern corner of India beyond Bangladesh.
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Their second day on the road was just as chaotic as the first – summed up nicely by their live Facebook posts at the time:
“We decided Tarmac would be dull so we took our tuk tuk sand blasting. The locals are awesome and we’ve only been stuck 5 times”
“Having a nightmare … Blew her up in the desert on day one trying to be clever dicks and take the back roads… Got it fixed that night (use ‘fixed’ lightly).
“Then today blew up again and had to be towed 70km by the craziest driver ever … we are now back on the road but seem to have a gearbox problem so need to look at that tomorrow!”
They fixed up the ‘shaw and thundered East, stopping off at the Taj Mahal and a cruise on the Ganges river along the way.
After clocking up “3 good days travelling with no breakdowns” it sounded like they’d started to enjoy the chaos: “Has to be said that India is nuts, it’s so busy you don’t have time to think and the noise is deafening, it really needs to be experienced to be believed!”
Another bout of mechanical woes gifted them 6 hours in a garage on their way East but they found some momentum just in time for the climb up to Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Rickshaws often struggle on the long road up to the hill station made famous by its tea. But the gods of adventure finally left them alone for a “great couple of days” with “amazing scenery past the tea plantations.”
They made it to the finish line and did a good job of summing up their experiences as they looked back at their adventure.
Hitting speed bumps with no markings was a “bone shaking experience” and night driving was by far their “scariest experience … many times we were on the anchors and diving into the side of the road to avoid a collision, we had many close calls. Add this to the constant, incessant beeping of the horn, really did make it a real task getting safely from A to B each day.”
“Anything in India can be used as a vehicle. We saw some fantastic contraptions used to transport people/goods. And they didn’t do things by half, they filled everything to capacity and beyond, be it passengers or cargo.
“Once on the road, it was crazy, you have the usual obstacles to deal with here in the UK, add in the sheer number of people on the road, pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, cars, lorries, wild dogs and cows. YES cows, lying in the middle of the road, be it city streets or motorways, they were everywhere.”
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“India is a weird and wonderful place … we met some fantastic locals who went above and beyond to help and gave us fantastic hospitality inviting us into their homes.”
All that said it seems one marathon drive across the subcontinent was enough:
“We made it to the finish line in Shillong after 12 days of traveling in the little weapon. We blew the motor 4 times and had gearbox issues and more than a few close calls with busses, wagons and cows.
“All in all it was a great experience, but I doubt either one of us will be rushing back to India!”
It may not be everyone’s cup of Masala Chai but Adam, Jamie and Campbell are missing out if they don’t go back… India slaps you about the face with unpredictable adventure and will always be one of our favourite countries for setting off into the unknown driving a totally unsuitable vehicle.
Get yourself a slice of adventuring chaos on the Rickshaw Run website.
Team ‘On a Tuking Mission’ also raised an impressive £3,343 for their charity Wings for Life, a spinal cord research foundation.