Sunday, January 7, 2007

Windscreen Blues

It all happened in Kolkota...
During our third day/night of constant running (day 6 in race time) we finally reached the part of the adventure where we new it was make it or break it time. After pulling down a whopping 2 hours sleep in the last three days it was decided that if we didn't do it here we wouldn't do it at all. It was at this point after making it through several traffic diversions (basically another term for "Take this shit road for awhile until we divert you to another even shittier road which will be followed by a bridge that's even shittier still.") we came upon another beautiful and brand new stretch of national highway. A thing to remember here is that there is really no rhyme or reason to where these bits of road begin or end (as you can see from the previous post) so when we stopped at the fork to ask for directions we were pleased to find out that "Yes friend, new road very smooth to Kolkota, good journey." And bang like a slow rocket we were off. And smooth it was, for a time... At this point I find it important to include a specific technical detail of the auto rickshaw. The headlight is actually attached to the front wheel and therefore only points in the direction in which the wheel is being turned, which at a whopping 6 watts or so sucks on the straight-aways much less a left turn or bloody ubend. Many teams had the forethought to add extra lighting which arriving the day of the race we had no time to suss out, besides we figured night driving was tempting fate anyways. So here we are back on this beautiful concrete paradise zipping along at 60kph able to see at a maximum about 20 yards ahead of us and to my surprise what should we come upon but a large pile of dirt blocking any further progress on the highway. Luckily at high speeds Higgings is pretty nimble and we were not the first to have approached that particular berm and I jacked it hard to the left hitting the most shallow part of the pile sending us safely over the top. Death averted once again and onwards we travel. As we pressed on somehow the road seemed to magically get darker which was either due to my completely cranked out eyeballs or was a sign from the mother gods that there was impending danger, which thankfully, I heeded. I pulled back on the throttle just as our crappy high beam shed waves onto a pile of dirt Higgins would have needed wings to get over. I abused the brakes once again and plowed into the front of it bringing our fancy highway journey to an abrupt conclusion. As we looked around confused and cursing our Indian friend and his directions we prodded some locals for info. Most pointed their scraggy digits to a dirt path that neither of us could believe was road of any kind, but sure enough we spied major truck traffic which is the true litmus for proper directions in India. We diverted down this path for what amounted to one massive pothole and the sight of major traffic slowly bouncing up and down like giant pogo sticks. We exchanged a glance that translated to "fuck this" and made a decision to head 60km back to the fork where we got our bunk directions. Stopping at the same petrol station for the second time we topped it off and headed the long way around pissed, tired and impatient. It's important to note here that the Calamity Crew stopped at this same petrol station 20min later to the excited jeers of the pump attendants whose information they dismissed as they could not see how we would have been there twice and now heading in the opposite direction. They ended up taking the connection at the end of the highway and had to actually carry their rickshaw some of the way. We feel we made the right choice but I digress... Totally irritated and having been behind the wheel for about eight hours and now back on more crappy roads after having wasted much time I came up with a theory. Perhaps not the most brilliant hypothesis but in my sleepless stupor it sounded like a grand idea. I theorized that if I just cane it down the road I would miss all the holes by flying over the top of them, and I did exactly that. I dismissed how brutally rough the ride was as we were making good time while in the back Jake prayed that Higgins would hold together. It was after about two hours of this abuse that a new noise started to emanate from the front end. By process of elimination I determined it was coming from somewhere around the windscreen so I put my hand up to it and it promptly fell out. Sadly I had to wake my passenger from the 30 seconds of sleep he had just gotten to help me put the sucker back in amidst a raft of cursing a team of sailors would be proud of. An hour later we were back on the road heading towards Kolkota which thanks to Jake's tenacity (and ability to drive through hallucinations) we would reach at a traffic-less dawn giving us a permanent and race winning lead.

Pubescent Petrol

I must say, this experience rivals most that I've had in the last 24 months and to even think about where to begin hurts my branium. We had so many interesting and dangerous things happen to us in that crazy eight day stretch that it is difficult to pull them apart into digestible chunks of entertaining reading, and honestly, the lack of sleep has caused some experiences to be permanently forgotten (like the time we found a freaking pubic hair in our gas tank) but thankfully there were two men here and together we can hopefully weave together something that loosely resembles and adventurous tale.
Having set off last from the starting gate gave us no opportunity to make any alliances so from the get go we were on our own, and truly, we would have it no other way. Like wolves of the Steppes we carried on through many a nights with only the comfort of a single sleeping bag and Iron Maiden's Run To The Hills to keep us company. At nightfall we would repeat the mantra of "only twelve hours till dawn" and at dawn "only twelve hours before we start freezing our arses off again." I specifically remember our first experience driving through the night in an attempt to make up time and blow the doors off Captain Chaos and his Calamity Crew. It was nearly dawn and we had just gotten up from a two hour nap in the dirt in front of a petrol pump. My partner was obviously still delirious from the twenty two hour stretch that we had just put in so I took the helm as the sun was just starting to shed some light onto national highway 5. Now, as many of you know the roads of India are iffy at best and at most times downright shitty but this particular stretch was absolutely pristine. I thought to myself "finally" and throttled Mr. Higgins to where he was chewing up highway so smoothly that Jake was in the back sleeping like a baby. Having properly run the new engine in for nearly four days our little hummer was cooking down the road at a gingerly 60kph as we blew through a totally vacant toll booth. It was at this point that I noticed a suspicious lack of road traffic, particularly the massive TATA trucks that you spend most of the day and night dodging to save your hide. At that point though I could have cared less as we hadn't seen a decent stretch of tarmac for what seemed like several lifetimes. Carelessly I gunned Higgins even harder to see what the old boy was really made of. The new morning and beautifully vacant roadway gave me a brilliant false sense of security that had me rocking to the tunes and getting excited about the finish line. It was about 30 seconds later that I looked ahead and saw what most expected Columbus to see in his search for the new world. I have no idea how it snuck up on me so quickly but I soon realized that I was about to take Mr. Higgins for his first flying lesson. I put the break down to the floorboard and locked up the wheels which quickly put us into a rear skid, milliseconds later the back end broke loose and began to turn us sideways which knocked Jake out of his stupor in the back. What he must have been thinking as he cracked through the eye crust I imagine to be something like "Tell mom I love her..." Reacting purely from instincts and drawing on several past lives as a Hollywood stunt driver I decided that going off the end of the earth in a sideways power slide was a real bad idea, so I said a little prayer to Shiva, released the brake and closed my eyes as we zipped off into the abyss at top speed. A moment of weightlessness and a huge crash landing later I lifted my lids to find us sitting in a pile of dirt and hay (with the engine miraculously still running and unharmed) surrounded by several very confused farmers who kindly pointed us in the right direction back to the highway. I looked back to a stunned, but thankfully, intact passenger to proclaim that to be "My one fuckup for the day" of which normally we were allotted two but somehow I think that counted for both.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Respect to Calamity Crew and Dosa Boys

So I may have been a bit off on the 3 day lead as our arch nemesis Captain Chaos and the rest of the Calamity Crew were hot on our asses and pulled into Darjeeling 17 hours behind us. Hot on their tails was the insane posse of the Dosa Boys who ran half the race with a tank of diesel in their mighty rickshaw, and let me tell you, diesel in a two stroke engine is real real bad but apparently it works like nitro as they are surely the only team that was able to pin the odometer at 80+ kilometers per hour. And still after spending 2 days in the repair shop they took 3rd, wicked man, totally unheard of.
We had a ripping good go at it last night sharing war stories and cracking wise about the limey's and the yank's all night long. And I'll tell you what, nothing burns the Captain's ass more than to have been whooped by "A bunch of fuckin' yanker baaastards."
Sorry El Captain maybe next year...
We are looking forward to meeting the other teams as they come rolling in. Pictures and posts to be coming in soon as the tea in Darjeeling has got the Raider Boys mellow and rested.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Raiders Take First

So the blog here was not updated as I had thought but there is a damn good reason for that as you can gather for yourself from the title. I can still hardly believe it myself but we covered roughly 3400 kilometers in just 8 days and finished probably 3 days ahead of any second place team. If that's not setting the bar high I don't know what is.
This was no leisure Sunday drive either, after nearly tipping the sucker over in the first 100 meters of the race we finally worked the bugs out (minus a small incident where we almost rolled off the road into a rice paddy) and we were off on a steady pace the rest of the way. After 3 days hard roads and breaking in the new engine we found out there were teams ahead of us, so we decided to forgo sleep and food in search of a first place finish in the first ever Rickshaw Run. Which we have and truly earned.
Words simply cannot describe the racing conditions out here. The pollution, traffic, psycho drivers, pedestrians, cows, goats, dogs, ear crushing horns, dust, dirt, funk, grime and the mighty spirit killer of them all... the fucking shit ass roads of India. Potholes you could lay in, stretches of road that more resembled a piece of tasty swiss than thoroughfare for vehicles of any kind. We saw snapped axles, blown tires and more dead dogs in 100 kilometers then I ever imagined to see in my whole life.
It was rough, nasty, dirty and hard and it's something that I'll never do again but I could not be more proud of the both of us for accomplishing this insane mission. I'll update this later with more stories of individual experiences and what not but for now we revel in the glory of first place.

Thank you to all and good wishes from the Rajasthan Raiders.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shoving off.

By divine design the Raiders depart for India destined for greatness.
Send your prayers to Shiva and beg that one of her many arms grants us a mighty shove in our hour of need.
With respect, we roll like pros.
See you all at the first checkpoint.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Raiders Ride With Pride

Faithful fans of the Raiders, I send out our sincerest congratulations to you, our generous supporters. We are very proud to announce that we have achieved our minimum donation goal for the purchase our our powerful racing machine. Each and every one of our happy little givers deserves a mighty slap on the back and a rowdy “Hi! Ho! Well done chap!” If not for you, we would be attempting to complete this race via unicycle or other ridiculous means and our egos demand that it not be so.
We are of course still taking donations as additional funds raised will go to the needy families of Northern India and any general maintenance our mighty steed may need pre-race. Thanks again and fresh holiday greetings to all from the Rajasthan Raiders.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rajasthan Raiders Merchandise now on sale!

The Rajasthan Raiders are proud to announce the opening of their online store with exclusive Raiders/tuk-tuk merchandise, offering everything from t-shirts and jackets to the sexiest thong panties this side of the Ganges. All merchandise is produced using a high-quality, durable, heat foil so you can continue pimping the Raiders far into the future. All sale proceeds will be immediately converted to petrol gold for our gas guzzling race machine. All store items are fully customizable and can be purchased in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. Buy early, buy often and support the Raiders!
You can link to our store right here:
Rajasthan Raiders Official Merchandise