And that was on a motor scooter. I became pretty good at navigating traffic like a Thai. I knew the road to Pai (all 762 hair-raising turns) like the back of my hand, and I drove on a regular basis with two other people on the back of a scooter — with our giant backpacks on occasion. If you don’t learn to be one with the madness over there, or if you are too arrogant to know your skill level and attempt something like the road to Pai your first time on a scooter, you get burned. Badly. Or worse.
I grew up riding dirt bikes and ATVs and I believe I have a keen eye and a fast reaction because of this, but even with the years of speeding through obstacles, driving in other countries like the ones in Southeast Asia is a whole different level.
Take Haiti. I didn’t even attempt to drive there. Those drivers are insane. And insanely skilled. I regularly state that I believe all Haitians are inadvertently raised as rally car racers who happen to use that skill to drive to work everyday. I feel safer bobbing and weaving through Port Au Prince traffic with a Haitian than I do with a driver in Washington DC.
With all of that, I am revealing possibly the most crazy adventure I have ever chosen to be a part of. At least in terms of the driving aspect.
What’s the Rickshaw Run?
So, what the hell is this Rickshaw Run I’ve been talking about all over my social media and building up the suspense in the beginning of this post?
To ease you in, check out this video from the gnarly people over at The Adventurists who run the Rickshaw Run.
That was quite a whammy right? To put it lightly. Here is a breakdown for you of exactly what the Rickshaw Run is.
Take an oversized brave little toaster and slap 3 wheels on it and add a 7hp engine. What do you get? A rickshaw that will hopefully take us across northern India 2,700km (1,678 miles) give or take from Jaisalmer in the west, to Shillong in the east racing against nearly 100 other rickshaws. Also, with no required route except for the one we choose. The “race” will take us though rural India, through cities, through the crazy traffic, and through whatever other obstacle you can imagine thrown in our way to get to the finish line in two weeks. This specific race is called the “Whatever-India-can-throw-at-you” route for a reason. To put it in perspective of how crazy this race is, there is no actual winner. There is just finishing or not finishing. If you haven’t seen traffic in India, amplify traffic of Bangkok or Jakarta or Port Au Prince up by 100.
Who’s on the team?
Of course there is yours truly, but I want to introduce you to one helluva awesome dude and someone I have had the pleasure of traveling around with and getting into some wild adventures with in the past: Derek of The Holidaze. I met Derek a few years back exchanging blog comments and tweet, and then we finally met in person at the Travel Blog Expo in Toronto in 2013 over pitchers of beer. Since, we have linked up in Thailand and Indonesia during our separate travels, and given that we have the same penchant for obscure and offbeat travel that many others don’t consider, and our possibly unsafe thirst for extreme adventure, it was destined that we should take on one of the wildest races in the world.
Rickshawin’ for a cause
This gnarly adventure isn’t just for Derek and I to get our fix of adrenaline and harrowing travel experiences. The purpose of the Rickshaw Run is to give adventurers an opportunity to give back to local communities and causes. The requirement to enter the race is to raise $1,700 for a charity that The Adventurists have chosen. But, given the immense excitement and support of this upcoming adventure from the likes of you, over $4,000 was raised with the help of others involved and will be donated to multiple charities!
This my friends was one of the main reasons I am excited to do the adventure. Here are the charities involved:
The Adventurists’ selected charity, Cool Earth, works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction. By building better incomes, schools and clinics, they give their partner villages the resources they need to keep their forest intact. To date, they have saved 411,525 acres of forests and supported over 35,410 indigenous people.
Planeterra is a non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their environment and provide solutions to local problems. It was founded by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip.
The Contest (Update Below) As much as this will be an adventure for Derek and I, we wanted you to be a part of it as well. And then give you a bit of cash for doing so. We are running a contest for you to name our team for the Rickshaw Run! Based on both of our personalities and our blogs, we have been getting some hilarious and some awesome suggestions and puns for our team name, but I am sure there are those of you out there that can chime in if you haven’t! We are announcing the winner and our team name Tuesday January 20th so you still have time!
After fierce competition in the contest to name out Rickshaw Run team, we have a winner! Across all social media platforms we announced the contest and people gave some great recommendations for team names; from the witty to the pun-ishing, to the inspirational — and some were downright blush-worthy. But we have our winner.
Do Yaar Romanchkari is Hindi for “Two Adventurous Friends“. Our winning team name comes from Jessica Shultz, who we picked because we loved the connection the name gave with India and its culture. A lot of the other names we considered based on sheer hilarity (Taj Mahaulin’ Ass) or cool factor (Gnarly Daze) but in the end we chose the name because at the heart of all of our travel shenanigans, Derek and I love traveling made through connections with the cultures and local people. Though the original name shared by Jessica was a mis-translation, some Indian friends on Twitter gave us the correct Hindi translation. And we are really happy with it.
Hopefully not for our rickshaw. Here is a breakdown of the whole Rickshaw Run and what it will entail.
Engine: 2 stroke, single cylinder, forced air-cooled
Power: 7 HP at 5000 rpm (equiv. 1 family dog)
Transmission: 4 forward, 1 reverse
Fuel Capacity: 8 ltr + 1.4 reserve
Top Speed: 55kmph (downhill)
Engine Size: 145.45cc
System Voltage: 12V , DC
Distance: Jaisalmer to Shillong — 2,700km or 1,678mi give or take depending on our route.
Dates: April 6th-18th, with a few days before for meeting up with teams and getting our rickshaw pimped out.
How We Will Capture It
Derek had this idea that I completely agreed with: Have more GoPro cameras strapped to our rickshaw than it has wheels. We want to catch every angle of agony and ecstasy of this race for your enjoyment, which means we will have cameras filming all sides of the adventure. Along with stationery cameras, we each will be taking and extensive amount of footage and photos with our DSLRs and other doohickeys we might acquire. Also, each of us will be posting tons on social media whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Personally, I have become quite obsessed with live updates through Vine, and I know that I will be posting on the fly a ton.
Along with that, here on the blog on Lost Boy TV and on Derek’s travel blog, you’ll find episodes we each create afterwards — but we will also be doing a joint web series around the adventure so look forward to that!
I have never been to India, yet I have always heard of how life changing the country and experiences can be. I arrive March 25th to Delhi where I will take a few days to get acquainted and link up with Derek before the race. I always love meeting new people, so if you will be in the country during our race, or in Delhi around that time, let us know! From locals to other bloggers familiar with he country, you’re the best bet to show us what India holds, so don’t hesitate! To all others that will follow the adventure, we are stoked to have you along for the ride and all the bumps and bruises and breakdowns that happen!
Derek seems to already have his rickshaw skills being honed and I’ll have to learn on the fly, but it’s time I brush up on my mechanics a bit and get ready for the race of a lifetime!
Join Our Team!
Interested in becoming a sponsor?
Since Derek and I are taking on this intense adventure, and paying out of pocket for expenses along the way by ourselves (including but not limited to: Fuel, lodging, food, water, beers, excursions, repairs, tools, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.) we are looking for awesome people or companies to help us along the way. The cause is a great one, and our mission is to inspire others to take part in travel adventures like this while supporting communities around the globe. If you are interested in slapping your logo on our Rickshaw (that will, mind you, have more GoPro's attached than it does wheels), if you have great accommodation in India or an excursion of some type that you want to be written about, or if you are a travel related company that would like us to try out your technology or services, contact us below. If you are just a regular ole' dude or dudette that would love to contribute to our journey, you are awesome! Reach out! We are always looking for partnerships for the race and being travelers and permanent nomads, we are always looking to work with companies in the regions we travel to and share the experiences with others.Become a contributor!