Team 001 ‘Sporting a Beer Gut’ team member Tim agrees with Romy’s opinion of the friendliness and the helpfulness of the local population, who don’t think they’re really seen many that weren’t waving and cheering at the time. On at least one memorable occasion on a highway a car has pulled up alongside us into the oncoming lane, so the occupants could wave at us and shout encouragement. This is great fun, but a little bit scary how the drivers never seem all that fussed about the oncoming heavy vehicles!
Team Interviews : Tim ( Team 001 – Sporting a Beer Gut ) April 12, 2010
Team 004 – Team SA , crewed by Romy from Durban and Sarah from Johannesburg have had the dubious honour of being the only team to yet get themselves in a traffic accident. Talking to us from the beach In Marari, Romy detailed the situation, saying that it can all get just a bit overloading at the busy Indian crossings. Trying to keep your eye on the blindspots, mirrors, and the intricate dance of traffic priorities meant that once motorcyclist managed to slip their attention when he tried to overtake them. A big scrape later and Romy saw much to her surprise the rider wobbling in her rear-view mirror and then fall over – fortunately at pretty low speeds. It was just bad luck the rider turned out to be about 80 years old and whilst completely unhurt was a bit shaken up by the surprise. A crowd of locals gathered around the scene pretty soon, which initially made Team 004 nervous -would they soon be dealing with an angry mob? Not at all – quite the opposite in fact – as the locals instead made sure the downed gentleman was ok, made sure he got onto an ambulance, and recorded all the details in case any insurance was needed later. Minutes later everyone was on their way again, intact and all the more savvy to the mysteries of Indian traffic!
Last night was a fantastic (and late) night in the company of our good friends at RTI and Marvel Tours. Aside from an endless supply of great stories about the area, RTI was also buying the drinks so pretty much everyone was up until about 3am. Everyone was more than grateful for the later start time of 9.30 am this morning, but there was a mixed response of early and late-comers, naming no names!
The early folk could not be restrained, and took off to scout out the area and the route ahead. The attraction of the idyllic of Marari Fishermen Village Beach Resort was strong, and even the most bleary eyed teams didn’t take much persuasion to get going.
The roads today were just about perfect with precious few of the dreaded pot-holes to be seen, but unfortunately the traffic was just wicked in the built-up areas, with complete gridlock lasting up to two hours at a time. The heat in stationary traffic is bad enough for the human participants, but for the little air-cooled rickshaws it was just too much, requiring the teams to shut the engine down at the end of every short movement. Stop-start traffic is a nuisance at the best of time, but keep in mind that the teams have to yank-start the tuk-tuk engine every single time!
It turns out that Marari Fishermen Village Beach Resort was absolutely worth the few difficulties in getting here. Pristine, abandoned stretches of golden sand and coastline overlooking a picturesque fishing village, and no other guests at all in the restaurant or bar which means the service is amazing too. The Malabar Rampage looks like it’s got its own private resort for the next couple of days!
Tomorrow, adventures on a houseboat!
The tuk-tuks are all, if anything, running far too smoothly – even team #007 ‘Travel Scientists’ beleaguered but beloved Lucy. The Malabar Rampage has with it a resident mechanic, who unfortunately signed-up to be paid by the job rather than the day, and is by now very bored indeed!
Day 1: Chennai , April – 02, 2010
It’s the first day of the event, and after having done all the basic meet-and-greet stuff yesterday it’s time to get down to business as the participants are introduced properly to the art of rickshaw operation. Everyone gathers to be issued their badges, complete their registration, and get started on the training grounds. The Rickshaw Challenge series in previous years has simply had one massive block training session, lasting from nine in the morning till five in the evening, which was fairly comprehensive. This year we’re splitting it into two sessions to make even more sure everyone is confident and safe in the saddle. Even though we’re meant to have reached the day’s destination by nightfall there is now a night driving training session too, just in case.
Day 2: Chennai, April – 03, 2010
The 2nd morning and it’s time for breakfast and briefings. Participants are out of bed and on their feet, out of the cool and into the heat! This isn’t actually Boot Camp though so even the training sessions are fun, with skills being sharpened and confidence boosted by games such as Rickshaw Tag. It’s all fun and games, and despite this being the wildest adventure around we all want to come through it safely so the training is comprehensive and the organisers are taking good care of everyone.
Later that day we take to the streets in the dark! By now all the teams are pretty much rickshaw ninjas, and even after driving around the infamous Chennai streets in the evening rush hour not a single traffic incident or even bump occurs. We are all now fearless three-wheeled road warriors – just bring us a continent to conquer! But first, beauty sleep.
Day 3: Chennai to Tiruvannamalai, April – 04, 2010
It’s the fourth morning and despite whatever times the teams eventually got themselves to bed, there’s not a single one of us who isn’t just itching to kick off this adventure properly. First things first – we are all taken to the Tuscana restaurant (one of the Rampages valued sponsors) and given a truly epic breakfast. The spread is in our honour, and we all eat as ravenously as the watching eye of the local press will allow.
Technical problems or not, the teams are by now really relaxing into the pace of the rally – sometimes just pulling over for no reason than a good view, an inviting tea stall, or even just to catch a sunbeam and listen to the radio. Team 007 shows everyone how it’s done and kick back with the radio tuned up until the trusty support vehicle rolls around and everyone’s on their way again.
Day 5: Yercaud, April – 06, 2010
The next day we kick back here at Glenrock, gather our energy for the upcoming stages and challenges. It’s an amazing place – lush greenery, shady trees, and the host is a great guy too. Not that we’re being lazy though – oh no. The teams are way up in the trees navigating the Flying Squirrel course of ropes strung between the mighty trees, and learning how to abseil down them afterwards. Later on as the sun sets we gathered around a huge bonfire and light the barbeque. In the warm night we ate delicious fresh chicken, watched the evening sky and listened to the forest. As one of our participants said – life is strange, and good.
Day 6: Yercaud to Coimbatore, April – 07, 2010
The amazing ability for India to have completely different microclimates from one area to the next made itself clear to the teams when they got down into Coimbatore – going from the mountain cool into what can only be described as a furnace. Like sharks we all found that if we ever stopped moving we could hardly breathe, so we ate up the last few miles with whatever wind we could find in our hair. We pulled up to the Sabari Nest Hotel – it was almost strange to have solid walls and traditional plumbing again after sleeping under the stars. Not that anyone was complaining. The value of a place having and air conditioned bar made itself obvious to everyone!
Day 7: Coimbatore to Trissur, April – 08, 2010
By now the participants are all weaving through traffic and around potholes like they were born for it, partly due to the training and now a few hundred kilometres of experience. We all got in to the Luciya Palace Hotel more or less on time, but all via quite different routes thanks to directions from very friendly, very enthusiastic, and very wrong locals. Everyone got it right eventually. If ever there was a perfect example of just how fast India moves, Team 001 ‘Sporting A Beer Gut’ provided it. Having missed their turning altogether they drove for kilometres down an unmade road and had to call the Support Vehicle to navigate their way back. When they were given directions and turned around to come back, the road had been completely paved!
Day 8: Thrissur to Cochin, April – 08, 2010
Five Years On, The Rickshaw Challenge Celebrates Milestones in Adventure and Humanitarian Aid April 1, 2010
This April 4th will see The Malabar Rampage – 2010 roar into life as an entirely new route in the infamous Rickshaw Challenge series. The Malabar Rampage stretches an epic 2000 kilometres (roughly 1200 miles) through the majesty and the mystery of southern India’s Dravidian states. It will signal not only a milestone in adventure tourism, but also the 5th year of the Rickshaw Challenge Series.
Teams of adventurers from around the world have come from as far afield as the UK, Egypt, Austria, South Africa, Hungary, Singapore, America and India itself. Each team, using only the noble and ubiquitous autorickshaw or ‘tuk’tuk’, will engage in some of the most exciting, memorable, and plain outrageous exploits the rallying world has ever seen, all against the backdrop of the most stunning scenery on earth. The Malabar Rampage is not an event for the speed freak or petrol-head, but instead attracts participants with the desire to explore, experience, and become immersed in the culture and landscape of southern India like never before. This adventure is going right off the standard tourist trail, and nearly off the map altogether, as it brings to light the hidden jewels of culture and countryside secreted throughout the Dravidian states.
In a stage passing through Yercaud participants will visit and stay in a coffee plantation, fed by spring water, where they will spend the night under the stars. Later in Mararikulam the teams will explore idyllic coastal villages, ride the iconic Marvel Cruises’ houseboats, and dive in the sea. In Tuticorin there will be the chance to see local fishing industry at work, as well as experiencing botanical farms, and even to see the countryside from horseback rather than rickshaw.
The nineteen day , 14 stage long rally is set to be absolutely action-packed, giving not only the teams but the attending world media a chance to see entirely unknown parts of India, and showing already familiar areas in a completely new light. Every possible activity to showcase this beautiful and underexposed part of India has been crammed into this monster of a rally somewhere along the line.
Both the participating teams and the organisers of the Malabar Rampage appreciate that it’s not enough just to experience and show-off this fantastic and unspoilt corner of the world, but that it is also important to give back to the local communities. The Malabar Rampage will represent not only the 5th year of the Rickshaw Challenge series, but also the collection and distribution of more than €50,000 of charitable aid for underprivileged local schools in association with Round table India.
The Malabar Rampage is all set to make history in the alternative and extreme tourism world, redefining what is possible for the amateur adventurer to achieve and experience. Followed by the international media in print, broadcast and online formats the event promises to provide worldwide exposure not only for the participants escapades but the invaluable sponsors who have helped make the rally a reality.
Chennai Event Management Services (CEMS) is an award-winning international event planning and production company. We specialize in staging high-profile functions around the world, including events in Euope, Asia, and Africa such as the Malabar Rampage, Tech Raid and others. With offices in several countries in key locations across the globe, we are in a strategic position to create spectacular events with full multi-media support and first-class promotion.