The Rickshaw Run – Day 9-10

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The Rickshaw Run – Day 9

Rickshaw Run India - On the motorwayDark and early the next morning we set out to try and find the highways at the coast after our unsuccessful attempt at travelling inland. With no street lights we left Surgana under the cover of darkness and after a trip in the wrong direction initially we got on track and headed north and west.

Despite the cold Day 9 started good and we were determined to make the most of it having severely struggled to do any miles yesterday. By 8.30am we were heading through Vansda National Park and were looking forward to seeing what our first park would bring. We expected the big green area on the map to translate into a big green area on the ground but in fact nothing changed. The national park was the exact same as outside and it was also full of villages, cows and farming fields just like everywhere else. It is worth remembering that the entire reason we were in the mess yesterday was because half of us wanted to see the temples in Trimback which were very disappointing and now after spending an entire day getting lost on roads with no tarmac we were where the other half wanted to go in the national park and it was also extremely disappointing. Overall it was zero points for team Rickshawshank Redemption! Needless to say we didn’t stop as there was nothing to see but ploughed on until we got to the town of Vansda.

The Rickshaw Run – Epidemic

Rickshaw Run India - ChikhliThe roads there got significantly better as we got back to civilisation and we headed on to Chikhli for breakfast around 9.30am. Chikhli was surprisingly nice and with the day warming up things were looking up. We had enough of the back roads and it was highway 8 from now on and that meant hours of boring 50km/hr driving where nothing happened except the odometer just kept on ticking. We were now on the main Delhi – Mumbai road where most of the traffic is trucks so having huge trucks either side was the norm. We motored on past the metropolis of Surat and headed onto the town of Bharuch and were very pleased with our progress having passed the 300km marker for the day. We then got an epidemic of breakdowns. First we completely lost power and after some hairy incident to get to the hard shoulder the investigation determined that a spare spark plug would do the job. Even though the existing one was sparking it wouldn’t start the engine. Only 15min lost, no problem. During this stop we saw our first accident first hand. A motorbike crashed into a car coming the wrong way down the motorway. Both going relatively slowly so nobody was badly injured. The girls think the bike driver crashed because he was looking at them and not at the road!

Rickshaw Run India - A crowd gathers at the mechanicOnly 10minutes later we again lost power and an even hairier incident got us to the hard shoulder. We couldn’t do the spark plug trick because we didn’t have any new one but we suspected it wasn’t the cause this time. Luckily for us we were at the top of a bridge, unluckily there was no hard shoulder but we quickly freewheeled down to the nearest exit and a petrol station. The rickshaw actually started again which I thought was great but the wiser people insisted on going to a mechanic. We persuaded a dodgy looking guy to show us one which involved driving the wrong way down a one way street and into a less desirable part of town but he found us two mechanics and then wouldn’t take any tip from us. The mechanic was just as good and found and fixed our broken head gasket in 15minutes and again wouldn’t take any tip. We were back up and running within 40minutes. This breakdown stuff is easy! We were back up and on the motorway for only another 10minutes when again we suddenly ran out of power. This time from our previous experience knew the piston was gone because of no push back when starting. Within 2minutes we had two local taxi rickshaw drivers with us and they ‘toed’ us to a mechanic. This involved a rickshaw driver each side at the back in their own Rickshaw Run India - Rajasthan is resurgent apparentlyrickshaw, sticking his leg out his door and pushing our rickshaw with his foot. We actually went 5km at 50km/hr down a main motorway being pushed by somebody’s leg! In the end it was only one rickshaw and while we were being toed a passenger jumped from our guy’s rickshaw to another on the motorway while we were doing 50km/hr. This is India!! After several turns and twists once off the motorway we were again at another mechanics. The foot pushing works surprisingly well. It turns out we had another bullet hole in the piston and it took two hours for the whole fix to be complete. Basically while the gasket was broken it was relieving some of the pressure in the chamber but once this was fixed then the piston couldn’t take the new pressure and broke. During this time we gathered quite a crowd around us and had the luck of a neighbouring Air Conditioning shop insist on buying us tea in exchange for a chat. Three breakdowns in 20km but we couldn’t have fixed them any quicker really and so with some trepidation it would happen again but optimistic that it wouldn’t we were back on highway 8.

The Rickshaw Run – Pissed Off

Rickshaw Run India - Stuck in the traffic jamWe had been stopping every hour or so before the breakdowns to get our fix of chai and let the jalopy cool down but not too far from Bharuch the traffic came to a standstill. There was a huge traffic jam and all three lanes were fully blocked with 90% of the traffic being trucks. We waited for 30min moving only a few  meters before deciding we may as well get dinner as it was coming up to 6pm and maybe the situation would improve when we were finished. Being one of the busiest commercial roads in India highway 8 has hotels and restaurants everywhere. We got our dinner in Hotel Decent. It was decent enough! Much to our disappointment there was no significant movement in the traffic. As we didn’t know how long the jam was or where else to go we had no choice but to get into it. We were told it was something to do with a bridge not far ahead. That didn’t seem too bad. Every 10minutes or so there would be a big surge and we would drive for 200mtrs but then it would all come to a halt again. Of course us being a rickshaw in a land of trucks was intimidating but it had the one advantage that we could zip down the hard shoulder or dirt track as it was more often than not. Still though Rickshaw Run India - An Indian Womanthere were other trucks and cars that were doing this so it was tough going. And also being full of potholes meant we nearly tipped over a few times. Hour after hour past with no sign of it easing. It was now pitch dark and the air was full of beeping, honking, revving and worst of all exhaust fumes. The fumes were rotten and all ended up coughing with Aoife actually had a cough for the next week out of it. To make matters worse we discovered from the WhatsApp group that we only turned on because we were bored that other teams had warned of the traffic jam. There is something eerie and peaceful about a full motorway packed full of 20ton trucks but there is nothing but silence. Everybody switched off their engines when not moving because we were stationary for so long. More hours past and we were now all rightly pissed off. After more than 4hrs and only 15km we got to the top of the queue. The main 3 lane Mumbai-Delhi road was shut both ways and they had one lane alternatively open for traffic on a bridge. It was crazy. We heard the next day the traffic jam was 60km long. It was now almost 10.30pm and we had been driving for 16hrs so any hotel would do. What should have been a very good day ended very bitterly in Bharuch.

The Rickshaw Run – Day 10

Rickshaw Run India - Locals say helloWe took our lesson from the previous day and looked at the WhatsApp group and discovered that Ahmedabad is to be avoided at all costs and Udaipur in Rajasthan is really nice. Right, we were going there. We again got up early which was at this stage beginning to take its toll and decided that another long day driving would be rewarded with at least a half day off in Udaipur. As we headed further north the mornings were getting colder and colder and by this stage it was probably around 7 or 8 deg Celsius every morning. When you factor that there are no windows or doors and your speed is directly proportional to the draft in the back then it makes for very unpleasant driving. For me who accidentally happened to be the first person to drive almost every day, I’m not sure how I got that gig, I was spared the worst of it. It meant that I had to be the most alert every morning in order to concentrate and not get any extra sleep (and was the grumpiest) but it also meant that as the driver I got shielded the most from the wind so it was ‘warmer’ in the front. The shorts and jumpers we were wearing in the mornings on the first day or two down south in Kerala was now replaced by 3 t-shirts, two trousers, a fleece, hats, blankets, the works!

The Rickshaw Run – Heavenly Lake

Rickshaw Run India - A view through townWe got off Highway 8 which we were well sick of and went to Dakor and onto Modasa. The motorway is a little stressful when there are so many trucks that can kill you but once we got off it onto the Modasa road it was heaven. The roads were good and there was almost no traffic. We could zoom along at almost the same speed as the motorway but there was plenty more to look at. Good all round. Luckily enough we didn’t encounter any breakdowns today so even though we spent another 14hrs driving it was all worth it as we got to beautiful Udaipur at a decent time before nightfall. I had no idea what lay in Udaipur but I was delighted when I saw the lake, the nice hotels and the cafes. It was just what we needed.

 

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Our Rickshaw Run Route

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Launch location - Fort Cochin: 9.965054, 76.240447
Day 1 - Tirur: 10.915057, 75.921910
Day 2 - Bekal: 12.397648, 75.032380
Day 3 - Bhatkal: 13.999247, 74.545306
Day 4 - Palolem Beach: 15.009965, 74.023219
Day 5 - Belgaum: 15.855439, 74.506551
Day 6 - Pimpri Chinchwad: 18.629781, 73.799709
Day 7 - Nashik: 19.983067, 73.717101
Day 8 - Surgana: 20.560467, 73.637432
Day 9 - Bharuch: 21.721821, 73.005675
Day 10 - Udaipur: 24.581209, 73.681842
Day 11 - Sheoganj: 25.141818, 73.062635
Day 12 - Jodhpur: 26.287630, 73.015815
Day 13 - Jaisalmer, the finish line: 26.914083, 70.917384
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Launch location - Fort Cochin
Cochin, Kerala, India
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Day 1 - Tirur
Cochin, Kerala, India
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Day 2 - Bekal
Bekal Fort, Kasaragod, Kerala, India
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Day 3 - Bhatkal
Bhatkal, Karnataka, India
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Day 4 - Palolem Beach
Palolem Beach, Goa, India
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Day 5 - Belgaum
Belgaum, Karnataka, India
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Day 6 - Pimpri Chinchwad
Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India
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Day 7 - Nashik
Nashik, Maharashtra, India
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Day 8 - Surgana
Surgana, Maharashtra, India
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Day 9 - Bharuch
Bharuch, Gujarat, India
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Day 10 - Udaipur
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
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Day 11 - Sheoganj
Sheoganj, Rajasthan, India
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Day 12 - Jodhpur
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
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Day 13 - Jaisalmer, the finish line
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
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Ross Travellingforfun

About Ross Travellingforfun

I have ducked, dived, bungeed, burned, skydived, surfed, volunteered, volcanoed, crossed continents, conquered mountains, got robbed, got sick and got drunk and I hope this website will inspire you to do the same.