Head organizer Princely took some time to sum up this year’s Rickshaw Challenge Malabar Rampage for you. Enjoy!
Before we get inside of what happened during the Malabar Rampage, I would like to talk a little bit about what Rickshaw Challenge had brought the expectation of. People sign up for various reason, birthdays, stag party, after university get together, family outing, honeymoon, marriage proposal and most importantly to break the monotony.
This adventure hits the bucket list of many people around the word equated with bungee jumping and other such similar adventure. The adrenaline rush which you get when you drive in an unfamiliar vehicle in the toughest traffic in the world is not second to anything. It’s really hard to bring out the translation of the feeling in any language, what you experience. I am repeatedly trying to improvise my sense of translation of what the participants go through, it is a tough job as the filters of memory and expression would spew out only a part of what crude I would be getting. Excusing myself on my lack of language skills and ardent writing skills. This is an experience which no one can justify only other than you participate in it.
Day 1 – Love at first sight
April 6th was a Saturday and it is the first day of the Malabar Rampage 2019. The roasting summer has just started in all parts of India and people are warned in newspapers to avoid direct exposure to sun. As usual the organizers drive from Chennai to Trivandrum, check list of preparation, preparing a place for practice and finally the charged swiping machine, are all the mandatory stuff.
The registration was well on time, myself, Vishakh and Arun were ready with the merchandize and paper work. When we arrived at the reception of the base hotel, I could see some of the faces I saw in the profile page of road book, in the breakfast area. Many of them were staying for the past couple of days to avoid the last minute rush and jet lag.
Team 3, Flair Force One and Team 4, The Fast and Flairious were the first teams to register. The father and son duo of Dinish and Neel has made their own teams of Team 3 and Team 4 respectively. Flair is their company name and they are into interiors in Britain. Dinesh an ever young person pulled up Shekhar, his Indian associate who lives in Varanasi and Neel teamed up with his relative Ram.
Team 8, The Chutney Chariot and Team 9, Cool Runnings were other two teams which followed for the registration. Rick wanted to throw a stag party and Rickshaw Challenge made it to fulfill the idea. But his father and father in law accompanied him with the teams. Now we need to think again was the stag party idea right? Rather I would call a family get together with only David is the outsider from the family.
Team 5, NYC -50 and Flaming 50 consisted of another friends group who wanted their 50th year birthdays memorable. Ashley was a Bangalore based working person who brought his friends from America, Singapore and England to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Team 7, Jamaican Me Crazy, had their reggae theme and consisted of father and daughter. Paul, who is working in China as an English teacher, brought his daughter for her birthday and graduation celebration.
Team 1, Adventure for Dementia, wanted to spread the awareness of Dementia. The team consisted of three members and in that Sarah is a Yoga teacher back in England, who had been to India before, teamed up and came for fun and purpose.
Last but not the least, Team 2, Breaking Wind had just Susanne during the registration as the rest of the members were all on their way. Incidentally Team 2 and Team 7 know each other as Paul from team 7 and Josette from Team 2 know each other from Vietnam where they were working in the same school. Thus the registration got over with a lengthy introduction of teams we shall enter in to the event.
Briefing was done in the bar at the base hotel. At 11 am we just introduced ourselves to each other and discussed how connected we need to be during the next 9 days an what everybody was expecting from the incredible country called India. Malabar Rampage is a 3 state rally starting from Kerala, we cross Karnataka and finish it in Goa.
Then the most important session of practice started at 2.30 pm. Before this, a small drama of cat and mouse game started. Team 8 and Team 9 were there in the training ground at 2 pm and they started to drive with the help of Chennai Garage support team. Without no time they became professionals just like a fish in the water.
Team 3 and Team 4 also had no issues to drive it. Same wise Team 5 and Team 6 also started well. The all women team of Team 1 and Team 2 faced more difficulty and they were honest that they were not expecting it to be tough. Starting the engine was the tough part. Many hands were blistered. Some of them got cycling glove and smartly escaped the first day blistering.
Final challenge for the day was to tank up and drive to the hotel. All so smooth, that one by one all the teams drove up to the base hotel and had a finish feeling for that, even though they were aware of the drive which they are making it to Goa.
Finally for the day, all the teams joined the welcome drink at the base hotel bar. Rest is too loud to hear and the final set of teams were literally begged to go to sleep. Thus an eventful day came to the end.
Day 2 – Shopping time in Trivandrum
In Trivandrum, Chennai Garage got a small parking place which they use for the preparation as well. The owner of the spot, Deepak suggested a plan to a mall in Trivandrum where they set a surprise for the teams. As usual our mini challenge was added with the extra task of driving to the mall and back. When they arrived in mall they had the surprise of media coverage.
The first team to call for support for the day was Team 7 and it was right before the Trivandrum railway station, in no time the problem was fixed by the support staff and rest is all just a cake walk to all the teams. Some of them even travelled to Kovallam (a beach, 25 km away from Trivandrum) and got back well before 6.30 pm.
This day works well as a practice day on road before they take the main traffic on Monday morning on the way to Alleppey.
Day 3 – Beach surprise at Varkala
The day broke with color and fun as many teams walked out with their costumes for the rally. It was such a colorful morning the feel of start became a celebration at the base hotel. With 9 teams and 23 members, Malabar rampage was flagged off from Trivandrum.
Our Destination for the day was Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, known for its backwaters and houseboats. The days challenge was to click pictures with the teams making chai. What fun the teams had doing such task. The conversation with the locals and how they were looked on when they asked that were all priceless. You need to live that movement to understand what I am talking about.
What was looking like an easy and uneventful day came to a sudden jolt. Town Alleppey was in festive mood for the upcoming Vishu in Kerala. So many roads were closed. We are just finding our way to the hotel. Team 2, Breaking Wind called me for the service and they told us that they are in some house. The owner of the house spoke to me and with the understanding of the spot my support team had to walk back to get the teams as all the roads were closed for procession.
Eventually, they spotted the Rickshaw and repaired it. It took more time to get back to the hotel as the roads were all blocked and the service team had to row through that crazy traffic. Thus the first day came to the end. The highlight of the day was the visit of the beach Varkala. Many teams had a solid one hour to stay there and some even swam in the waves. Getting wet and getting dried up in the rickshaw was like a trick to escape the crouching sun. You all need to understand what the salt sea would do to your body.
Day 4 – Relaxed and easy day to Fort Kochi
The day’s drive was just 80 km and most of the teams were ready to go check the boat house raid in the backwaters. The Challenge of the day was also related with boathouse. Team 8, The Chutney Chariot and Team 9, Cool Running, planned a different route through the backwaters to Kochi. Eventually they lost count on how many boat rides they had to do with the rickshaw. The trip turned amphibian hopping from land to water and getting back to land.
The base hotel in Kochi was also a soother. Fort Kochi had many more things to offer. The question on spices also spiced up the day. Some spa activity was happening and there was such a rush form all our teams. Eventually the spa consultant had tough time handling the bookings.
Day 5 – The most congested drive to Calicut
Today I planned no briefing as that would delay the process of handling the most challenging drive of the whole trip. Crossing the phase one is the whole stuff is all about. I hardly saw any team that day. They had to put use all their energy to navigate the crazy traffic. All the teams had their own fun with plenty of remote beaches and some ferry in the beginning and the finish. Such a great and tiring day came to a peaceful finish.
Day 6 – Crossing borders for Mangalore
We had 8 am briefing at the breakfast area and the surprise was an offline recommendation of Mullapzhangadu drive in beach. Drive a passenger was the day’s challenge.
The absolute normal day came to the support mode when I hit the same beach. I received a support call from Team 1, Adventure for Dementia. They had their clutch burnt out and it needed a replacement. Actually the first place they broke down had such crazy traffic that we could hardly do any work there. So second time they called up and the work was done at around 4 pm. Mangalore had 100 km from the spot and we know there is going to be a delay. The team 1 was worried a bit but the advice of enjoying the journey, rather than being worried about the destination worked and they moved to the destination with motivation and support.
The excess heat brought rain and thunder at around 6.30 pm. Team 4 were the first people to report about that and later we found from google maps that a thick read strain is there for couple of kilometers around that. Only couple of teams finished the day within the stipulated 6.30 flag off time. The last team to sail in was Team 1 at around 7.30 pm with the support following them. Thus the longest drive came to end and we reached the next state Karnataka.
Day 7 – To the serenity of Murudeshwara
The briefing was planned for 8.30 am and the teams were informed about the Udupi town. The Day was filled with surprise beach pictures from Team 5 and Team 6. They also had their lunch at the mass feeding at the Udupi temple.
Another no problem day came to the sleepy town of Murudeshwara. The beach and the Shiva statue, is a popular background of numerous Rickshaw Challenge participants. The town went dry (no alcohol…) and that was broken by Team 3 and Team 4 with their purchase from Magalore. Together all had the dinner time. Plenty of stories and loads of fun. This was the night were I got the proper connections of the teams and their stories behind the theme.
The mustache challenge, made me popular as every team wanted a picture with me to finish of their challenge.
Day 8 – Go Go Goa
The final morning briefing was over, Team 8 and Team 9 and gave me couple of challenges to finish. I made a small effort and it was fun. Team 1, did not want to take any chance as the Kilometers were 230km to Panaj. Rest of the teams formed convoy for some. Same wise, all teams turned towards Gokarna, Om beach. When I reached the spot in Gokarna couple of teams were already in the sea to swim.
The final day had no hurry as all the teams reached the hotel only after 5.30 pm. Stopped at most of the beaches and detours which all of them lost count. Thus the official 1000 km drive would have extended above 100 more km on detour and getting lost.
Such an amazing journey has to finish and the finish was also in a bar. All started at a bar came to close at the bar. Team 1 was awarded the Charity award as they raised more than 5000 pounds for the cause they support (Dementia). Team 4 took the bonkers, as they were the most entertaining team and they served the shots at the beginning to the shots to finish at Panaji bar. With the theme of Statue of Liberty, to their total dedication to the points score and the most important VSOP Brandy for the bribe made the Team 5, NYC-50 the champions.
The party began with the birthday celebration of 4 people, Ashely, Stephen, from the champion team, Adam from Team 8, The chutney chariot and the youngest participant Charlotte from Team 7, Jamaican Me Crazy. The party came to a finish at around 11 pm due to election restriction. But nothing could restrict our after party at the hotel, clearing all the minibar drink options.
Such a crazy journey came to a finish and let us all team up for the next rally from Goa to Mumbai the Deccan odyssey 2019. See you all then, bye.