12 Foreigners on 6 Autos! Auto Rickshaw Challenge- Mumbai Express 2015 Flagged off in City

Mangalore: The Auto Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Express 2015, rally team was welcomed in the city at the Government School ground Mallikatta by the Round Table India (RTI) 115 club members on Tuesday, 18 August, and later the rally was flagged off by the board members of RTI. The team consisting of 12 members from England, Whales, Scotland, Barcelona-Spain and New Zealand were in the city on a adventure travel from Mumbai to Chennai on six auto rickshaws.

They had left Mumbai on 9 August, after covering Alibaug, Pune, Mahabaleshwar, Ratnagiri, Panaji and Murdeshwar, they had reached the city on Monday, 17 August- from here they will be heading towards Mysuru, and then reaching their final destination Chennai on 21 August, 2015. At 9.30am after the ‘Rickshaw Challenge” members interacted with the school kids, chairman of Round Table India-Mangaluru Chapter 115, Kenneth Serrao, Deepak Ramani- Honorary Tabler of MRT 115, along with other board members flagged off the rally. Leaving the city, they are scheduled to take the Mysore, Bangalore route to Vellore and then reach Chennai.

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The last time I traveled in a auto-rickshaw for a long continuous distance is when I hired it to go to Summer Sands-Ullal from Mangaluru-that’s around 10-12 km, and I was sore and tired after a bumpy and rough ride on those dilapidated Mangaluru and highway roads. But imagine doing over 2000 km in a rickshaw across some parts of India amidst heavy traffic and bad roads is something one should admire and compliment the people who took that challenge. Among the 16 international teams of 40 participants riding auto-rickshaws separately on their own, of which six teams made a stop over in Mangaluru on their way to Mysuru-Chennai, we learned more about their dare-devil adventurous journey, and also about the ‘Rickshaw Challenge’ event.

The six teams in six different auto-rickshaws were : Riding auto-rickshaw named ” Tuk Buddies” were James Hughes and Max Craven, both from England; “Ice Ice Bhaji” by Juliann Esper (Scotland) and Liane Wick (England); “The Indians” by John Mcgivern and Kevin Hunt (both from Whales); “Little Laia and the Blues Brothers” by Neil Smith (London) and Laia Martinez (Barcelona-Spain); “Curry Struck” by Victoria Simeon and Rhys O’connor (both New Zealand); and “Temporarily Misplaced” by Darren Mcciuley and Stephen Decon (both from New Zealand).

An approximately 2000 km adventure in a 7 horsepower glorified lawnmower ( auto-rickshaw ?) -that’s truly amazing ! The “Rickshaw Challenge” is easily the least sensible thing to do just within 11 days travelling from Mumbai to Chennai. At each end of the Ride is a party of earth shattering proportions but what is between them is all down to the team members. And luck – good or bad. No set route, no back-up, no way of knowing if they are going to make it. The only certainty is that they are bound to get lost, will get stuck and their vehicle will break down. It’s just the driver and the mates in a wholly unsuitable vehicle traversing the subcontinent enduring whatever the road has to throws at them.

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The Rickshaw Challenge is a modern day, yet primitive, cannonball challenge ride across parts of India in a glorified-three wheeled lawnmower. An epic journey across India that offers craziness and unexpected adventures at every turn. The Rickshaw Challenge is mad dash across the prescribed destinations where just making it to the finish line is an achievement. Put on by the clearly crazy individuals – it’s basically done on a tricycle with a lawnmower engine. “The Rickshaw Challenge isn’t a race – there’s isn’t a course, just a destination! We don’t know which team traveled the furthest because none of the odometers work ?” said one team member.

Each team consists of one rickshaw and between one and three drivers. The Rickshaw is a vehicle designed to transport light loads over small distances on paved roads, making it a challenge to cover long distances. A short trip in a Bajaj auto-rickshaw is enough to convince you that the rickshaw is barely fit for the purpose of a brief journey across town. It’s only when you hit the open road or indeed off-road that the beauty of these vehicles becomes apparent. Nothing of the design of these noisy tripods is with comfort, safety or reliability in mind. They put you right at the bottom of the Indian road hierarchy thus giving you perfect opportunity to see India from the gutter.Possibly the least suitable vehicle on the planet for covering the entire subcontinent in two weeks. In other words: perfect.

“The rickshaws go about from 50km-60 kmph -but you can’t speed up that way for long, since the engine may crank up. The engine is only about 7 horsepower, just under 150cc. You’ve got to pull the clutch in to shift, that’s one more thing that can break. Engines have been known to catch on fire while moving along at 60km/h. The eight-liter tank has to be refilled basically every day. It’s two stroke, so you have to mix oil in with the petrol. We didn’t know that, so our rickshaw engine started doing some funny noises and got heated up releasing some fumes-but everything was okay. You can get about 150k on a full tank – they’re very economical until they break down or you smash into something!” said James and Neil.

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When asked about the people they came across, all the team members said, ” People along their route were friendly, helpful and very courteous and gave us respect and provided us good hospitality when we needed. Indian folks are the best people on this planet. ” . When asked about consuming Indian food during their rally, they all said that they enjoyed the Indian delicacies, especially veg dishes like Paneer Tikka, Dal Tadka, Gobi Manchurian etc etc- Tandoori chicken and Chicken tikka was also great at a roadside Dhaba. Loved the biriyani and kabab items. Masala chai was excellent.

“Anything and everything. We brought along some protein bars, which helped during long stretches on the road. Almost exclusively, though, we ate at local restaurants and roadside cafes (dhabas). We found that the dirtier the cook, the better the food was. We often liked the veg plates better than non-veg. Water, though, was the most important resource – especially when traveling through the crazy weather. Keeping stocked with bottled water was difficult at times, especially with 12 guys drinking more than 15-20 liters a day at times, said the team members jokingly.

“Had also few minor troubles-There are panty-snatchers…but not our fellow travelers- it’s the local wildlife. One team walked into a hotel room, and found a monkey digging through the luggage. They chased the cheeky chimp off with a big stick — these clearly being essential bits of kit for anyone taking part, but what did monkey make off with? Plenty of underwear ” joked the team members.

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How does one come to drive a rickshaw down the coast of India? I asked- The girl team replied, “By joining one of these adventures puts us on exciting adventures for charity, and which describesus as “Purveyors of adventuring chaos the world over. We’re fighting to make the world less boring with a bunch of glorious old school adventures. We’ve entered the Rickshaw Challenge, a adventure that goes in/across/through India (Mumbai to Chennai, all whilst driving a rickshaw. We’re on the road 9 Aug-21 Aug-feels great and awesome!

Why are you doing this? I asked, “For fun, and in the spirit of unadulterated adventure. We have three goals: Support an awesome non-profit organizations, Experience and get excited by India…it’s a crazy, awe-inspiring place., and Have a blast, but make it out alive. ← most important goal. What we get, besides a giant thank you, fame and fortune for assisting in this epic journey, and perhaps our first-born child, are perks ?” came back the answer.

Speaking to mangalorean.com, Kenneth Serrao-chairman, RTI-Mangaluru said that the participants will raise funds throughout their rally and utilize the amount for the development of the infrastructure of the government schools. So far the round table 115, has helped government schools like the Bengre Kasaba School, Moodshedde School, Mallikatta government school, St Joseph School and Kemral school in Kinnigoli. Hefurther said that the round table 115, will take up the requirements of the schools and after a thorough study of the project and approval from all the members, the infrastructure will be provided to the deserving schools.

With so much to achieve and such little time, the participants of the Auto Rickshaw Challenge Mumbai Express 2013 have their work cut out for them. The stage is set for the grandest of all challenges – a unique opportunity to the lovers of adventure to push their boundaries harder and higher and to prove their mettle in the great outdoors. While I enjoyed a few hours in the company of these great adventurists, I would like to compliment them for being bold and brave in undertaking this adventurous rally, and I wish them best of luck . Great guys ! Great damsels-loved them all and their new friendship-hoping to keep in touch with them forever. Long live the “Rickshaw Challenge” heroes!

About Rickshaw Challenge:

The 2000 km Rickshaw Challenge- Mumbai Xpress 2015 is an adventure Rally/ Challenge done using Auto-rickshaws. The Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Xpress 2015 adventure will run for 11 days from Mumbai to Chennai ( August 10th till August 21st ), taking its teams of 16 international rickshaw racing teams of 40 participants from 9 countries on an exhilarating journey across the length and breadth of the country.

The aspiring adventurers come from countries as far as UK, US, New Zealand, Australia Germany, Malaysia, Spain, Barbados and Canada looking for an experience of a lifetime. And this is exactly what the Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Xpress 2015 provides. In order to win the Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Xpress 2015, the participants will have to rely on the locals at each destination to guide them along. Clearly it is all about human power.

During the Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress 2015 participants will eagerly look forward to a number of mini- races and challenges on a daily basis through which the contestants will also get the opportunity to form a meaningful connection to the places they are visiting. They will not only enjoy the natural beauty of the rural countryside but also sample the local cuisine and culture.

Along the way, the participants of the Rickshaw Challenge- Mumbai Xpress 2015 will be making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged by raising funds for various projects of Round Table India under their Flagship program Freedom Through Education. Social responsibility is very close to the heart of the Rickshaw Challenge- Mumbai Xpress 2015.Madras Midtown Round Table 42 is the exclusive Charity partner anchor for all the Rickshaw Rallies. For Mumbai Xpress 2015, MMRT 42 is having close co-operation with RT 128-Panaji, RT 115-Mangalore, RT 109-Mysore and RT 23-Vellore. The event is owned and conducted by Chennai Event Management Services.

About Round Table India:

Even after 68 years of independence, millions of Indian children have never, ever been to school. Illiteracy is a self-fulfilling curse that perpetuates the chain of poverty, degradation and child labor. To reach out to this group of underprivileged children, since the year 1996, Round Table India (RTI ) across the country started adopting projects aimed at providing quality school infrastructure, and then in 1998 this project was formalized and thus born the National Project of Round Table India “Freedom Through Education” – In pursuit of educating underprivileged children

An organization of non-political and non-sectarian young men between the age group of 18 to 40. The aim of the young men is to promote service, fellowship and goodwill in National and International affairs. Membership of 2,500 like-minded professionals spread across a network 75 cities and towns in India. Part of Round Table International, a global organization with a presence in 54 countries and a strong network of 36,000 members.

RTI National Project is FREEDOM THROUGH EDUCATION in pursuit of educating 1 Million Children.The current status: half a million children educated and about 750 schools built with a total spend of R 80 crores. Eminent personalities like Super Cop Kiran Bedi, Lead India winner R K Mishra, Kajol and Ajay Devgan, Sabeer Bhatia, Narain Karthikeyan and Madhavan have supported Round Table India in its mission to educate underprivileged children by being voluntary Goodwill Ambassadors.

RTI is a ZERO overhead organization. All administration expenses of Round Table India and membertables are met from membership collections alone. Donations received are strictly utilized for Charity only, for which they have a separate Charity Account. Almost 95% of the members are self employed professional or businessmen. They are doing this as a passion – purely voluntarily – out of their own interests. Hence there is very high focus on accountability / quality and deliverables.

For more information on Round Table India please visit: www.roundtableindia.org.

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