The teams starting to line up at the parade ground, Kochi
The Rickshaw Run: an event run by The Adventurists which involves the madness of driving a 3 wheel tuk-tuk 4000km from one end of India to the other, with absolutely no back up support, in two weeks. All in the name of charity. Great fun! Find out more about the event at the official website: www.rickshawrun.com.
The teams began to arrive slowly at first, but by the penultimate day, all 70 had turned up and checked in. Tom and Matt (from the Adventurists, the event organisers) gave a pep talk of last minute advice and some basic mechanical principles we would do well to observe. A good idea to listen as basically we would have no support once we were on the road. Why were doing this again? Ha, it was all going to be alright wasn't it?! With a rather badly organised game of cricket against the Kochi locals out of the way (a 2 wicket defeat in the scorching sun), we gathered at the pier for the official launch party.
This the Adventurists did well, getting us on a boat over to the stately Bolgatty Palace, which was spectacularly lit up when we arrived. There was a decent buffet and cold beer laid on for us....but surely with the serious business of driving tomorrow no-one would be going too mad would they??? Err, well my hangover the next confirmed that I had indeed had a good night. We partied until about 2am, which left little recovery time.
Our wonderfully painted and decorated 'Rita'!
Vicks and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 9am, both of us nursing banging headaches. I just about managed to stomach toast for breakfast before we walked down to the parade ground to pick up our beloved Rita (our affectionate name for the little beast which would hopefully carry us 4000km to Gangtok!). It was great to see alll 70 teams lined up and raring to go.
There was some brief speaches from the local mayor and Matt before it was time.....time for the off!! I took the driving first and led 'Sikkim The Head' out as Vicks was a little nervous - I was happy to give it a go. We did a lap of the town before we followed the 'Get Some India' guys (Phill, Tina and Dec) and 'Moby Rick' (Eugene, Andy and Marty) and 'Naztronauts' (Stephen and Eoin) out of Ernakulum as we'd agreed with them to head towards Munnar for the first night's stop. It was confusing at first (lucky we were following as our maps were totally inadequate for the job!) but eventually we got onto Highway 49. It was great fun, and made a little more interesting by a massive downpour as we headed up into the hills.
The one-speed wiper on the tuk-tuk was totally ineffective and we could see bugger all most of the time. We had to poke our heads outside to peer down the road to see if we were going the right way! It was brilliant seeing the reaction of the locals who stared in utter amazement at us and then broke into waves and smiles....magical! We just kept saying, 'what a great way to see India this is!!' We got into Munnar just before dark at around 5.45pm and after viewing Zina Cottages down a track that really needed 4WD and not a pathetically underpowered tuk-tuk, we found the SMM Cottages - in the end we had 6 teams staying there. Moby Rick were the last to arrive at about 8pm after they'd had some mechanical trouble - it was great to see the cammaradery with all the stories of the day flowing out. We had some food at the local food stall at the end of the road, gorgeous Masala Dosas for about INR 20. Then it was crashing out time - a knackering day!
Heading towards Munnar in convoy!