The hardest part of the Rickshaw Run was probably finding mechanics to perform the 1,000 km service. Some of the other runners had good luck getting mechanics to come to their hotels. When Dave and I tried it, it didn’t work out so well. On our way to our hotel, I did notice lots of mechanics and even one or two that looked like they may be rickshaw mechanics. But we couldn’t remember where they were when we left the next morning. A nice English speaking man welcomed us to India and asked how he may assist us. We told him we needed a mechanic and he guided us through town from his motorbike to a mechanic.
While waiting for a mechanic to open, some women were hanging out of the building windows to see us. I smiled and waved and they waved back. Since it was still closed, he was asking around and making some calls to find out who would be opening soon. It was 9AM and nothing gets started in India until 10 AM.
Meanwhile, one of the ladies came down with her daughter and gave me a leaf bowl filled with rice. She said it is their traditional breakfast and wished me to try it.
It was good, a little spicy, but had some kind of nut in it giving it an unexpected crunch. I waved hello to her shy daughter and asked to take their picture. The people here are so overwhelmingly friendly. A mechanic was finally reached and we were guided to another shop.
Our guide friend stayed to help translate for us. I entertained myself watching things going on around us. Funny to see the rickshaws being pushed over.
Our presence drew such a crowd that the mechanic had to nudge his way back in after test driving our rickshaw. It is quite ridiculous.
While waiting at the mechanic’s, some school boys stopped by and wanted to take photos with Dave. At first they were a bit shy.
But once the ice was broken, the line formed. We will never get used to the celebrity status we are given here.
Once they finished taking photos with Dave, they were very happy to all pose together with Dave for me.
We find the attention amazing, embarrassing, annoying at times, dangerous sometimes (while driving), fun, crazy, and just plain weird. We were very afraid of causing accidents and we did cause a couple. There was the bicyclist that was looking at us and not where he was going and ran right into a tree. Another bicyclist did a double take and rear-ended a rickshaw. Fortunately, no one was injured, just perhaps a bit stunned. This really isn’t bad considering all the drivers that tried to talk to us and didn’t watch where they were going. It happened more often than you would believe!
While our rickshaw was being worked on, another runner contacted us asking where we found a mechanic. Dave sent them our GPS location and they walked over from their hotel. Their rickshaw wasn’t running at all, so as soon as we were finished up we drove them back to their hotel. They had a rope and we tied together to give them a tow. Our little girl performed well and we were able to get them to the mechanic. Nice!
We saw the guys we met (what seemed) forever ago in our hotel in Shillong (and bought some of our cushions) broke down on the side of the road. They are team Bogan Josh from Australia. They blew a head gasket, but it wasn’t the first time it happened to them, so they were prepared with a spare. Matty has gotten a lot of practice working on their rickshaw as they said they haven’t gone a day without some sort of break down. That’s nuts! We waited with them to make sure the head gasket change would get them going. It did, so we were all back on the road. We can see why they have so many problems. These guys drive their rickshaw hard, probably 60-65 km/hr. We drive 50-55 km/hr. They also said they don’t bother with cooling breaks every two hours. They don’t think it does any good. Well, it seems to be working for us, so we’ll just keep going slow and steady like the tortoise and they can keep being the hare.
We saw Bogan Josh on the side of the road again and it looked like Matty was working on the engine. We pulled up behind them and asked if they were okay. No, the float broke in their carburetor, and they needed a tow. They really do breakdown every day. There was a lot of activity going on and we asked what was happening.
They said an accident happened right in front of them. Two cars hit their front corners and a truck smashed through between them sending the cars flying in different directions. The guys said that if they hadn’t sputtered out, they would have been right in middle of the crash. They were pretty freaked out, but helped pry open doors and pull people out. Scary!
There were no deaths or serious injuries somehow, but more than one face hit windshields. Just awful to see and very scary to think we are in such a tiny and vulnerable vehicle! The Rickshaw Run really can be quite dangerous. We were glad the guys were okay and we pulled in front to give them a tow.
They couldn’t find their rope, though, and all we had was some paracord. Well, we decided to give it a try and, unbelievably, it worked. Aww, look at the sad faces in the video. But the breakdowns and tows made for some of the best experiences. This time we followed a local on a motorbike from the highway, down a dirt trail, through a winding village that went on for miles. It was a crazy but fun ride!