måndag 9 september 2013

First day of driving

First day of driving! Felt like our last day of living! Driving in Mexico is like following rules compared to this mess. If there is an empty spot, you can be sure that it will be filled with something dead or alive. Lanes is just a word. If you want to go, just go where there is space. I can't even think about a number that is as high as our near misses today. But still alive and kicking back a beer at the hotel room in Puducherry. Of course a hotel that is full vegetarian and NO bar. Imagine to guy out to a store and buy beer, bring it up to the room to have a cold one. Something wrong with this picture. We got 4 650ml of cold Tuborg for 240 money. Thats like 24 Swedish Kronor or $5. Got to love India. Enough about the beers. The day started at 9 in the morning from the hotel in Chennai. Short briefing of the days tasks. Go see that fort, find that stone, fill up your Rickshaw at that station. We have to work for our living. 2 forts and one station. Forts are generally not placed on highways. So we have to find a small side road with no sign. Not easy. But the good thing was that today its Ganesh day. You know the God that looks like an elephant. Less traffic but more party people on the sides of the road and many more in towns. We did found our forts, and the gas station to fill up with 6 litres of high power rocket fuel. We shifted driving a couple of times. Get a bit tired after a while. Specially since the brake pedal, useful as it is, is situated in a place you can't have your foot.
One time in Chennai we got lost but soon got it rigth.

Di spend a lot of time helping the NorwaySweden team. Of course the ran out of gas. But as a good team as we are, we of course helped them. Get us bonus points.

There is some point system in place to determine who's the winner. Complicated, but fulfilled tasks, craziness and general stupidity will help.  
So the Germans are hard to beat. The Singaporians just plays with their gadgets.
Overall with around 150km today we can say that it's an experience. Maybe not one you want to do each year, month or day but once.
Just 4 days to go. Tomorrow its even more km to cover.

At least we are the only team with a viking helmet on the roof, that fell of only once today. Got it back again after some walking.

Now its time to take a shower, get some food and then sleep!
Need sleep today.
Be safe on the road. We do the rest!

söndag 8 september 2013


Sunday. We woke up late today. Beer, excitment, chock and everything else we dreamed about. Blood on the bedsheets from both of us. We look like an old couple taking care of each other with band aid, cleaning wounds and stuff. Guess that is a good thing.
Today we had not much to do, except for a challenge in the afternoon. Like in 2 hours.
We went to a mall in hope of getting a Burger King and some drugs for Conny. Got the drugs but not the burger. New Rickshaw and of again. Found a Dominos so we went for pizza. Good after just Indian food, vegeterian, for to long.

Back to the hotel and meet Pringley. The challenge was tro drive to Elliot Beach and get a reciept to prove it. Luckily it's sunday. Got there, dirty as usual and not at all inviting to take a swim.- Found the place we where looking for and took the receipt.
And back home to the hotel. Driving today was a bit nervous in the beginning but after a wwhile it was OK.
We even found our way back.
After that we just pimped our Rickshaw, stickers, and making us ready for tomorrow.
And yes, I checked the brakes today. And Rickshaw is all fixed too. We are ready.
Tomorrow we start 9:30 to drive out of Chennai. Since this is only a 9 000 000 people city it shouldnt be any problems.
Let you know if we get connection.
Conny is all happy I am all happy and it looks like  great, read scary, week ahead of us.


Now, lets see what happened during the last couple of days.
Yesterday, Saturday that is, we had an early morning. Like around 9-10. Had a great Indian breakfast that is more or less like a lunch with the same dishes. But good. Coffe is still really bad. After breakfast we went to registration. Of course in a Rickshaw with drover, but not our Rickshaw.
We meet Pringley, the boss of the race. Nice Indian gentleman.
After lots of signing and getting stuff we went back to hotel. In the afternoon it was time for the big lesson in Rickshaw driving! Scary.
Went to an enclosed area, Institute of Transport, and did meet hour fellow competitors. Nice bunch of people. One team of 2 Germans, one team with 3 Singaporians with different origins and one team with a Swede and a Norweigan. And us of course. A bit disappointed about the few teams, but nothing we can do.
First Pringley talked about the sportcars ten it was of around the training area. The have built different typical Indian situaions and roads, of course complete with tons of rubbish, really smelly ditches and tons of pot holes. The only thing missing is another 200 000 Indians, a couple of cows, dogs and some dead bodies.

Driving a Rickshaw is like riving a scooter with three wheels, no braking, no steering, no engine and really wobbley.

After some driving around we got an assignment. Go find a gas station and fill it up. Really scary to know that you are about to enter an Indian road. We took of and somehow managed to both fid a station and fill our Rickshaw with 5 litres of petrol and 250 ml of oil. Two-stroke engine.
And then it was back and u-turns on a crowded way.
We made it and everyone was smiling like kids at a playground.
More talks about the race and then a new assignment. Drive back to the hotel. It took about 30 minutes to get to the test area with an experienced driver. Now we had 2 hours of daylight left and that didn't feel enough. We took of and somehow everyone followed us. Team One it's us.
Made it all the way to Marina Beach her we missed a turn. OK take next left instead and then we should be OK. After about an hour of driving, braking, honking, turning, and slmost wetting hour pants. We finallym like real guys, asked for directions. No problem. Everyone is very helpful. Got some decent direction and then we took of.
Driving so far had been eventless, but scary. It was just the beginning!!!!!
Driving on a street with cars , bikes, rickshaws, people, mopeds, motorcycles and other stuff, we came to a crossing. Everyone is ignoring lanes, signs and ligths. Follow the one in front.
Doing good speed, around 30km/h we suddenly experienced a familiar problem: NO BRAKES!!!
I do not know why I keep on driving stuff when this always happens. Coming closer and closer and no way to stop, we tried to avoid hitting any one and turned left quickly. Which of course meant that he Rickshaw turned over! Bang on the side and siding against the corner. When we stopped tons of people gathered and helped us out. Checking that no other person was hurt we looked at ourselves. Conny got some really bad bruisers and cuts and I got some on my back. One guy helped Conny to the hospital and I stayed behind and waited for Pringley. The Rickshaw was lifted up by the Indians and I looked at it. Can you guess! The rod from the pedal to the brake cylinder came loose. Exactly as at Pikes Peak 2012. Walking is my new thing.
Conny came back with tons of band aid. The Rickshaw was fixed by some Indian and then Pringley came and pucked us up.
The side of the Rickshaw was bent, scraped and lights and mirrors gone.
Back at the hotel we just washed and then of to the welcome party. Turned out that one Rickshaw broke the gearbox, one groke the engine and the last one lost the clutch!
As we say, What can go wrong.
We had a great party with tons of drinks and food. Ended up at Hilton nightclub where we didn't get in because of shorts and sandals. A good night sleep came after that.

torsdag 5 september 2013

We are here!

Checked in at the hotel in Chennai. 
After many hours, and flights we finally arrived in India and Chennai. 
Immigration worked like a charm and all bags arrived. 
Had a guy waiting for us to drive us to the hotel. 
Almost an hours drive in a well used car. 
Traffic is more or less worse than expected and will be fun!
My practice in Mexico City doesn't really help here. 
Conny is soaked and have a big towel all the time. Just like Ford in "A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". 
Anyway after our coffe that of course was full of milk and sugar we are of, by foot, to explore the neighborhood. 
Wish us luck and pictures will show up. 
Ralf and Conny