23 Foreigners ride Auto-Rickshaws in ‘Mumbai Express 2016’
Mangaluru: The Auto Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Express 2016, rally team was welcomed in the city at the DK Government School ground- Bikkaranakatte by the Round Table India (RTI) 115 club members on Wednesday 17 August, and later the rally was flagged off by the board members of RTI. The team consisting of 23 members were in the city on a adventure travel from Mumbai to Chennai on nine auto rickshaws.
They had left Mumbai on 7 August, after covering Alibaug, Pune, Mahabaleshwar, Ratnagiri, Panaji and Murdeshwar, they had reached the city on Wednesday 17 August- from here they will be heading towards Mysuru, and then reaching their final destination Chennai on 20 August, 2015. At 8.30am after the ‘Rickshaw Challenge” members interacted with the school kids, Royster Alex DSouza-chairman of Round Table India-Mangaluru Chapter 115, along with other board members flagged off the rally. Leaving the city, they are scheduled to take the Mysore, Bengaluru route to Vellore and then reach Chennai. Among the 16 international teams of 40 participants riding auto-rickshaws separately on their own, of which nine teams made a stop over in Mangaluru on their way to Mysuru-Chennai, we learnt more about their dare-devil adventurous journey, and also about the ‘Rickshaw Challenge’ event.
The nine teams in nine different auto-rickshaws were: Team name ” 2ManDeep” headed by Joshua Thomas and Ashish James from UK; “Algo en Espanol” by Naomi Jujols, Shamir Quinones, and Hector Gabriel Arizmendi (Peurto Rico/USA); “Just Married” headed by newly married couple, Becky James and Andrew Colwell (UK); “Shitty Shitty Bang Bang” headed by William Cecil, Matilda Moir, and Lydia Cecil (UK); “Team Jelly” headed by James Poole and Eleanor Fraser (UK); “Dancing Double Chef” headed by Kristina Cheffins and Christopher Double (UK); “Beach Please” by Marlen Heldemeel, Janna Martinson and Eva Vaino (EST); “Wilson” by Kaspar Ratsep, Georg Tulver and Siim Silver Salamaa (EST); and “Aloha Spirit” headed by Andres Koger, Magnus Heinmets and Jaan Parmask (EST)>
An approximately 1400 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 13 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.
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 Joshua Thomas and Ashish James of “2 ManDeep”, who had a minor accident when their auto tilted over when they were over speeding near Ratnagiri.
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.
How does one come to drive a rickshaw down the coast of India? I asked the newly married couple riding the “Just Married” auto-rickshaw- Becky (46) and Andrew (55) who were married on 3 July 2016 said this was their honeymoon ride and wanted to explore the real India through this adventure. “By joining one of these adventures puts us on exciting adventures for charity, and which describes us 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 7 Aug-20 Aug-feels great and awesome! People are amazing, friendly and got the best hospitality wherever we stopped. Loved the Pav Bhaji (like our Burger in England) and most of the veg dishes” added the couple.
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 from the couple.
Speaking to mangalorean.com, Royster Alex D’souza-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. He further 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 2016 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 1400 km Rickshaw Challenge- Mumbai Express 2016 is an adventure Rally/ Challenge done using Auto-rickshaws. The Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Express 2016 adventure will run for 11 days from Mumbai to Chennai (August 9th to 20th), taking the 9 teams of 23 participants from 4 countries on an exhilarating journey across the length and breadth of the country.
Mumbai – Alibaug – Pune – Panaji – Mangalore – Mysore – Bangalore – Vellore – Chennai Flag down
The aspiring adventurers come from countries as far as UK, USA, Australia, Newzealand, France, Sweden, looking for an experience of a lifetime. And this is exactly what the Mumbai Express 2016 provides. In order to win the Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Express 2016, 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 Mumbai Express 2016 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 Mumbai Express 2016 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 Mumbai Express 2016. The event is owned and conducted by Chennai Event Management Services.
About Round Table India and Mangalore Round Table 115
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. RTI has a membership of 2,500 like-minded professionals spread across a network 75 cities and towns in India. RTI is Part of Round Table International, a global organization with a presence in 54 countries and a strong network of 36,000 members.
Our 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, Shiv Khera Narain Karthikeyan and Madhavan have supported Round Table India in its mission to educate underprivileged children by being voluntary Goodwill Ambassadors.
We are a ZERO overhead organization. All administration expenses of Round Table India and member tables are met from membership collections alone. Donations received are strictly utilized for Charity only, for which we have a separate Charity Account.
Almost 95% of the members are self employed professional or businessmen. We are doing this as a passion – purely voluntarily – out of our own interests. Hence there is very high focus on accountability / quality and deliverables.
For more information on Round Table India please visit our website www.roundtableindia.org.