Costumes & Three Wheels: The Mumbai Xpress 2015 Begins

One of the toughest three-wheeled adventures in the Travel Scientists’ repertoire, the Mumbai Xpress is an ambitious feet from Mumbai to Chennai, a journey that traverses most of South India and the better part of 2000km – all during the infamous monsoon season. As our nutty teams kick off from India’s largest metropolis, are they ready for this challenge of endurance?

mumbai xpress
Photo by Ashleigh Grant from Team Smurf.

Day 1: Meeting the Rickshaws

We started things off on an easy note for day 1, getting the paperwork and registration out of the way before introducing the teams to their rickshaws and getting them to practice a bit on their three-wheeled steeds.
Registration started at 9am, and you would have thought people would have leapt out of bed for the chance to do some paperwork, but only 3 teams were uber motivated to sign up so early. The others made it down at a leisurely 11am. Once everyone had given their deposits and signed their souls… er we mean signed the terms and agreements, everybody was led into the Royal Hall in the hotel for a pep talk from the Head Scientist, Aravind Bremanandam, to get everyone in the mood.
Once pepped, then it was time to face the beasts, and our plucky teams made their way over to the Women’s University Campus for some rickshaw driving lessons and general how-not-to-kill-yourself-in-India while driving preparation. One team played hooky though, and that was the Monsoon Riders, although they had a valid excuse in that they were not even in India due to a flight muck-up, but they got the chance to catch up on their training the day after.
After the practice, the teams had the chance to tackle the Mumbai traffic themselves as they had to take the rickshaws back to the hotel. A couple of teams broke down along the way, team Nan of Your Business had flat tyres and needed to change the wheels, but get extra brownie points for managing to do it themselves. Off course there is nothing like Mumbai traffic to inspire one to drink, so everyone went up for the welcome party at Gringo Bar to kick start the fun! The event was also double special, since Neil from team Little Laia and the Blues Brothers, celebrated his birthday.

Day 2: Exploring Mumbai

Photo by Rhys O'Connor from team Curry Struck.
Photo by Rhys O’Connor from team Curry Struck.
The teams had the chance to explore the city at their own pace, and hone their rickshaw driving skills before hitting the road. The night before turned into a heavy, late night affair, where our rickshaw racers commandeered the swimming pool at 2am during the long party night. Since hangovers were abundant the morning after, most took it easy on day 2 and chose to hit the hay early in preparation for day one on the road.

Day 3: Mumbai to Alibag

Photo by Min Chai from team N2 Extreme TukTuk.
Photo by Min Chai from team N2 Extreme TukTuk.
Day one on the road, and the energy was high. Most of the participants came in elaborate and funny costumes ready to tackle the open road with their three-wheeled beast. Sputtering out of the hotel, the main challenge of the day was to get out of Mumbai unscathed. While the traffic was no less unforgiving than normal, the teams reached Alibag before the luggage truck! However, India being India, the unexpected will always happen, and it seems that Hotel Shyadri wanted to put 5 teams in their new property as guinea pigs. Fortunately, Rickshaw Challengers tend to be good sports, and no one complained about the sudden change, and in fact enjoyed the new place and new lawn. Only a couple of breakdowns to report, but again, we have quite a handy team, since they managed to fix their rickshaws by themselves.

Day 4: Alibag to Pune

Photo by Jon McGivern from team the Indians.
Photo by Jon McGivern from team The Indians.
Perhaps it was because of the traffic hell in Mumbai that inspired everyone to get up at dawn and go have breakfast at 7:30am, since today’s destination was Pune, Maharashtra’s second largest city – and famous for its terrible traffic. However, all the teams made it to the hotel by the flag down time, except for one team that had to spend two hours at a Local Garage in Penn. Team 14, The Indians, caused a bit of a stir as one of their team members stripped down for a rather disturbing Buddha impression, which we’re sure most of the teams will forget in a hurry! Today, we decided to rack up the stakes a bit and give the teams some simple challenges, but we started them off light, as they did yet more challenging later.

Day 5: Pune to Mahabaleshwar

Photo by Liane Wicks from team Ice Ice Bhaji.
Photo by Liane Wicks from team Ice Ice Bhaji.
The teams had a few challenges to get to know Pune a little before embarking onwards to Mahabaleshwar, after visiting the famous Aga Khan Palace, they also had the interesting challenge of making chai at a local stall and capturing the moment on camera. Teams Mystery Machine and Nan of Your Business took their own rally course to see a bit more of India, but the competition is heating up among the rest of the teams. So far things are good, and it looks like everyone is having fun, but it’s early days still, so who knows what we can expect in the next coming days?
Are you crazy enough to come along for the ride? Then join us on the next Rickshaw Challenge. Then get a team together and lets see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram to keep up with our latest antics.


Mumbai Xpress

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