Rickshaw Run Guys Blog

Rickshaw Run Tips

Just as I did in late 2009 after I “finished” the Mongol Rally, I would like to list to some tips for those souls foolish enough to participate in upcoming Rickshaw Runs. So without further ado…

  • Don’t overbuy parts at the beginning.

    We had teams of roaming rallyers circling the city looking for every part imaginable in case they broke down in the middle of nowhere and had to fix something themselves. Thing is, even if you had the part, could you fix it yourself? Probably not. Also, if you need it professionally repaired (which you will), they mechanics will always have access to tools and parts (Nepal might be iffy though–not many rickshaws there).Buy a spare tire tube, an extra spark plug or two (The Adventurists give you one), a jerry can, a funnel, and some zip ties, bungee cords, and duct tape (bring from home–not commonly available in India!). Continue Reading →

Actual Route Map

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Well, we still started in Shillong, and we ended in Jaisalmer, but the route was a bit different at times than we had planned (always is). The biggest detours involved taking a wrong turn down south towards Bangladesh on day three, and choosing an alternate route to Agra after we got back into India from Nepal (hoping that the road would be better…but it wasn’t). All in all, we ended up driving around 2,000 miles (3,200KM) over sixteen days. Not bad.


Whew–what an adventure.

Now that it’s finished, I can honestly say that I’m glad I did it. Would I do it again? Nope. Would I go back? Yes, I would go back to parts of India (and definitely Nepal) again, but just as a tourist, not as a rickshaw driver. I really wish we had a bit more time for sightseeing in many of the spots we passed through (although to their credit, The Adventurists flat out state that you won’t have much time for that).

It’s really a crap shoot as far as how you do–it’s primarily based on which rickshaw you are assigned and how bad it is to start out with. Sure, your route and other such choices along the way play a role, but your enjoyment or lack of is primarily based on how many problems with encounter with your vehicle (not taking into account chances for illness, crashes, crime, etc.).

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Last Few Days

The rest of our time in Jaisalmer was spent resting and relaxing after our grueling ordeal. The last night there the five of us went on a camel safari in the desert, where we practiced our sand dune jumping skills and then shared a meal of sandy curry. On the way back a motorbike that was passing on the other side of the road veered too quickly and crashed into the embankment. Our driver got out to see if they were okay and they started blaming him, so we hightailed it out of there before things got out of hand.

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The Finish Line

The first order of business the next day was to get rid of our rickshaws before something else happened to them. We got together with the boys, taking our vehicles through the extremely narrow passageways of the town fort, down to the bottom of the hill, and over to the other side of town, where the official finish line was.

It was a bit underwhelming. The official finish had been on the 24th of September, and here it was on the 26th and most people had already taken off. The finish line itself had even been taken down, although the Finisher’s Board was still hanging on the side of the hotel. We let the hotel know we had arrived so that they could contact The Adventurists’s delegate there, Matt, and we went to sign our names on the wall. Seems that we were indeed quite a bit late–not counting the teams that didn’t make it or quit, we were the fifth to the last to finish (out of about 68 teams). Seems most had arrived in town on the 22nd-23rd–guess they didn’t take the same scenic route we had. That’s not to say that they other teams didn’t have the same amount of problems though–in the comments section next to where you signed your team’s name and finish date there was an area to write your thoughts and comments, and it was filled with some pretty amusing anecdotes indeed:

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The Road to Jaisalmer (cont.)

The village mechanic turned out to be a general practitioner of sorts–definitely not a rickshaw-specific mechanic. He gave it a go though, and took a few laps around in our ‘shaw before giving us the same verdict as the last two guys to look at it–an internal wiring problem. There was a rickshaw mechanic about 30KM up the road in the direction we were heading, so we could either try for that or seek other options, such as putting our rickshaw on the back of a truck and carting it to the finish line that way.

I was pretty keen to finish the entire journey via the rickshaw, so we both agreed to push on as far as we could. We figured out pretty quick just how much throttle we could give the engine before it started to stall, and became pretty proficient at keeping the pressure on the handlebar accelerator just right. Our new top speed was gauged at around 30KPH (18MPH) or so, in fourth gear. Even if we were able to continue without more problems it was going to be a very, very long day.

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Day 16: The Road to Jaisalmer

Today there would be less ground to cover than the previous trip: approximately 280KM vs the prior 340KM. We figured we should get up early and give it the better part of the day though, seeing as we didn’t know what the road conditions would be like. If the trip to Jodhpur was any clue we would be lucky to get to Jaisalmer before sundown.

Our two teams left together around 8:00AM or so. I had planned the exact route the night before, so we would take the lead and get ourselves out of the city and onto the main highway (a term to be used lightly throughout all of India, of course). The trip out wasn’t too bad actually, compared to other major cities we had had to find our way out of in morning rush hour traffic. Within a half hour or so we were beyond city limits and on a decent road, heading towards the finish line. This would be the last day of driving we would have to do, and I think that all of us were kind of overjoyed by that fact.

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Day 15: Jodhpur

Our plan was to wake up somewhat early, grab breakfast on the terrace, and crack on towards the finish line, Jaisalmer. During the course of the slowest breakfast ever, where we had to put in our orders multiple times, asking repeatedly for silverware and other accoutrements (we apparently didn’t learn our lesson the night before), we decided as a group to spend a day in Jodhpur and do some sightseeing. I was keen to get to the finish and rid ourselves of the rickshaw before something else happened to it, but I had to agree that I might never be in the city again, and that it would be nice to see it a bit before we departed. Besides, what more could happen to the rickshaw just by waiting an extra day? (Note the brilliant use of foreshadowing.)

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Day 14: Jodhpur Ho!

This would be the longest stretch of road that we’d be doing in one day (340KM), and we prayed for good roads. Well, that’s what we got, at least for the first 100KM or so. After that, it was a bit sketchy due to construction and diversions, so we spent hours and hours getting on and off theĀ  stretches of completed highway (for some reason they don’t just built it from point A to B, but instead create many small chunks and then connect them together later on).

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Now, you may have seen me gloss over these huge parts of our driving day in the previous posts, and I’m going to continue doing the same throughout. It’s easy to look back and say, “we drove or 10 hours on crappy roads and eventually got to where we were heading”, but it is most assuredly not that simple when you’re actually doing it. Besides the fact that it is impossible to remember every occurrence on the road (numerous break downs, livestock dodging, rickshaw-sized potholes, overly interested bystanders, getting lost, people inviting us to have some tea while we’re doing 50KPH down the freeway, etc.), which happens in spades on a daily basis, it just simply wouldn’t made for very interesting reading (and I’d still be writing about day two right now, given the amount of info I’d have to compile). Because of this, I just write about the major things that happen each day, while allowing you to fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

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