The Rickshaw Challenge Diaries – Part 2

Setting off on Day 6 of the Rickshaw Challenge down the slippery slopes of Mahabaleshwar, we were bound for Rathnagiri and then on to Candolim in Goa on Day 7. It was set to throw up some long days, another breakdown and some intrigued (and frightened) locals along the way.

Here’s the diary of those days, as written at the time.

Day 6: Mahabaleshwar to Rathnagiri

Distance: 202km / Google Maps Estimate: 4 hours, 51 minutes.

Our first 200+km day on the road, we left the hotel at around 8.20am… and what a few hours lay ahead.

Having travelled up hill so much yesterday, today saw us coming back down from the mountainous high.

Descending was a slow process as we were driving back down through clouds that had created a thick fog. We could hardly see the road in front of us, sometimes not knowing we were going around corners until we were in them.

The advantage of being at such heights, however, was that we came across some wild monkeys along the roadside at one point. They seemed relatively calm, although we didn’t get to close. Being attacked by a monkey would be all we’d need.

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One of our tasks for today was to pick up some locals, although we quickly realised that many weren’t so keen on jumping in a green and red rickshaw with two Westerners. Until it started lashing rain, of course.

Eventually, a family of three jumped in – two in the back with Kathy and one beside me on the driver’s seat, which was a little unexpected. They left a forth person behind them on the side the road, who we assumed was their granny.

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With not a word of English between them, we didn’t know where they wanted to go but figured they’d shout.

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All was going swimmingly (including a petrol stop) until after about 20-30km, the rickshaw sputtered to a stop. Not a meg.

I initially thought it was the wrong mix of fuel. Princely told us during the briefing on day that the wrong mix of oil and petrol could trigger a breakdown. A gentle rocking of the shaw would usually do the job, allowing the two fuels to mix. I gave it a go, hoping it would do the trick.

It was misplaced optimism.

Having broken down just as we entered a town, we went in search of a mechanic. Our passengers, meanwhile, waved goodbye (one of them did, anyway) and off they went… wherever it was they were going.

We eventually found a mechanic around 200 meters up the road. Although he didn’t speak English, he seemed to understand that our rickshaw was broken down. He hopped in a second rickshaw and sped off.

He returned 5 minutes later, now driving Mayo4Sam. At least it was still working.

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Our near mute mechanic reversed the shaw into his little garage and parked the rickshaw in its place, which was about only a foot above a partially covered sewer. All we could do was stand and watch, like worried parents wondering if this was to be the end for our little green and red baby.

The worry didn’t last long, thankfully, as after around 15-20 minutes, the shaw was seemingly back in action. Not knowing how much it would cost, we figured we’d be taken to the cleaners (metaphorically, although we did need showers). Amazingly, it cost a whopping €2. Happy days.

Our understanding was that some power current running from the engine had failed, which may have been triggered by driving too fast. I say overloading but who knows.

Google Maps Estimate: 4 hours, 53 minutes.

Reality: 9 hours, 25 minutes.

Start time: 08:21, Finish time: 17:46

Day 7: Rathnagiri to Candolim (Goa)

Distance: 239km / Google Maps Estimate: 4 hours, 58 minutes.

A relatively long drive but on decent roads so we made good time. Well, as good as you can when you’re average speed is around 50kmph.

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Having suffered two breakdowns since we set off from Mumbai, it crossed our minds that we may have been cursed.

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We started the day in confidence though, even picking up another local along the way. Again, she didn’t speak English, nor us Indian, so we didn’t know where she wanted to go. Much like yesterday, we figured she’d wave/ shout/ jump when we reached her destination.

A speedy trip ensued with Kathy at the wheel. We hit a few bumps hard, and I think our lady traveller doubted our driving abilities. Having stuck with us for around half an hour, and I having made several attempts at figuring out where she needed to go (primarily pointing at a map on my phone), she let out a little shout, presumably to let us know we’d arrived.

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Even though we were in the middle of nowhere, with no shops or houses around, she seemed keen to get out and I’m pretty sure it was mainly because she feared for her life.

The mix of decent roads and the fact that tomorrow was a rest day, we were in high spirits when we reached the hotel for the night –  Country Inn & Suites.

A fruity drink awaited us in Reception, and a few beers followed.

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Coincidentally, Team 7’s Violette was celebrating her birthday so an impromptu party was had that night in a club in the town, the name of which I can’t remember. What I do recall is that they sold 12 shots for €20. Don’t worry, they weren’t all for me.

Google Maps Estimate: 4 hours, 58 minutes.

Reality: 8 hours, 29 minutes.

Start time: 08:38, Finish time: 17:07

Day 8: Candolim (Rest Day)

Today mainly consisted of sleeping. Although we did manage to squeeze in a very nice Swedish massage, as well as some late night drinks by the pool with Chase, Dan, Nick, Violette & Nathaniel.

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