Border guards nicked our fizzy cola bottles! Gits!
August 3, 2006 10:12 PM   Subscribe

"Have entered industrial wasteland - unbelievable hell-hole. Clocked 4000miles! Border guards nicked our fizzy cola bottles! Gits! Roads r not good."

Two weeks ago 159 crap cars set off from London, England for Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. A journey spanning 8,000 miles, 2 deserts, 5 mountain ranges, on roads ranging from bad to non-existent. All this with no support crew and in a car you swapped for a bag of crisps. Stir in the odd party in far-flung parts of the globe, dodgy border crossings, and the occasional bribe and you have an inkling of the Mongol Rally.

Sound too safe for you? Maybe racing a rickshaw across the Indian subcontinent for a spot of tea is more your speed.
Two great charity events brought to you by the Institute of Adventure Research
posted by woj (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My email is in my profile for anyone wanting to sponsor me in next year's race!
posted by woj at 10:13 PM on August 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

A buddy of mine did the India cross-country rickshaw thing a couple of years ago with his two brothers. Even got into the Guinness book. Check it out here.
posted by zardoz at 10:16 PM on August 3, 2006

Fun post, thanks!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:17 PM on August 3, 2006

zardoz, thanks for sharing that! Incredible story. I'm downloading the 12 minute movie now.
P.S. - Love your username.
posted by woj at 10:31 PM on August 3, 2006

good stuff :-)
posted by trinarian at 10:58 PM on August 3, 2006

I'm downloading it too. What fun! Thanks for the post, woj and for the vid, zardoz. I think autorickshaws rock!

Check this out, Bangkok to Brighton: 2 girls, 3 wheels, 10,000 miles by autorickshaw (tuktuk).
posted by nickyskye at 11:00 PM on August 3, 2006

That looks like so much fun! Where's the americas continent immitation? please let it start near where i live.
posted by wumpus at 11:15 PM on August 3, 2006

Also, if you didn't get it from the site, they taped the whole thing, and he's in India right now as a matter of fact doing some touchup shots. It'll be a documentary on the Nature Channel in Canada sometime in the future.
posted by zardoz at 12:34 AM on August 4, 2006

That autorickshaw race sounded like a heap of fun until I pictured a deceptively toylike orange Tata truck - festooned with all manner of mirrors & trinkets & spangly jangly bits - driven by a maniac drunk out of his skull on spurious liquor, possessed by an overwhelming belief in inescapable predestination, bearing right down upon me in the dead centre of a road suited for only about half a Tata truck. Coming the other way is a bus, driven by the same kind of Kali-may-care driver...
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:37 AM on August 4, 2006

UbuRoivas, nice writing! More more...
posted by nickyskye at 1:32 AM on August 4, 2006

I love how people who travel these days have to have websites, media packs and corporate sponsors.
posted by johnny novak at 1:49 AM on August 4, 2006

Do they, Johnny Novak? I think we're just seeing seection bias. You only hear about those travelers who do have websites, media packs, and corporate sponsors. Or at least, websites.
posted by hattifattener at 1:57 AM on August 4, 2006

Post imperial first world indulgence I call it
posted by A189Nut at 2:09 AM on August 4, 2006


I didn't literally mean that.
posted by johnny novak at 2:28 AM on August 4, 2006

johnny novak: I know! Clearly, all that they need are free accounts at Flickr, YouTube and Blogspot!

UbuRoivas: Hence their tag-line. :-D
posted by the cydonian at 2:57 AM on August 4, 2006

Great post. The swap a car for a packet of crisps link doesn't work though - which car was that?
posted by handee at 3:54 AM on August 4, 2006

This got me to thinking. What if you were to attempt the Mongolian trip with an eye to comfort and reliability?

I'm thinking a small SUV (manueverable on narrow roads), Japanese-built, fresh off of the production line . . .
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:54 AM on August 4, 2006

go team ramrod!
posted by rmd1023 at 3:58 AM on August 4, 2006

Oh. My. God. This is right up my alley. I want in. I practised this past winter by driving from Amsterdam to Bucharest in a leased Peugeot. Slovak Republic, Hungary, and Romania were especially fun. No one told me they didn't have highways through the mountains...

Need a teammate, woj?
posted by quite unimportant at 5:00 AM on August 4, 2006

What about this rally ?
posted by Pendragon at 6:10 AM on August 4, 2006

There are lots of people who travel around Mongolia all the time and don't keep websites to whine about how bad the roads are.

And yeah, the ones who want to be comfortable have Japanese SUVs. The roads aren't that narrow; what's more important for a comfortable ride is stability, suspension and ground clearance.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:14 AM on August 4, 2006

Post of the day, no question.
posted by empath at 6:34 AM on August 4, 2006

What a fantastic post. It brought a smile to my face as I thought about all the hijinks that must occur. This is my kind of rally!!! Screw organization and planning. Just give'er!
posted by FastGorilla at 6:40 AM on August 4, 2006

wumpus -- I always wanted to do Alaska to Tierra del Fuego...
posted by nickmark at 6:44 AM on August 4, 2006

27 july rear wheel bearing replaced by two romanians in transylvania. Payment not accepted. Strange they had surprisingly long teeth. We bnth feel faint.

posted by craniac at 6:51 AM on August 4, 2006

I went to a party for Team Newyorkistan, the only New York team in the rally. That is all.
posted by Falconetti at 8:52 AM on August 4, 2006

That's awesome. I’d like to see a Gremlin tho’. And, not, to be USA centric, maybe a Skoda, Lada... (What do you call a Lada/Skoda at the top of a hill? A miracle) there is a Yugo tho.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:55 AM on August 4, 2006

To all the naysayers - maybe I should have been more clear in my post that the rally is for charity, and that this year they estimate they will raise £250,000 for charities in Africa and Mongolia. This might help explain why they need media packs and corporate sponsors. As far as it being an indulgence, well maybe you have a point, but I don't remember the last time any one of my indulgences helped raise that kind of dough for charity.

Gordian Knott - that's definitely possible, but then what fun would that be? The whole point of the "crap car" rule is that it will almost guarantee to get you out of your comfort zone and into real interactions with the locals. Looking at the passing landscape from a plush air-conditioned SUV designed to handle a beating is an intirely different experience from resorting to using duct tape, a tampon, and some soap to fix a hole in the fuel tank of your 1984 Nissan Micra...
posted by woj at 9:12 AM on August 4, 2006

A hell of a lot more interesting than, say, the Paris-Dakkar rally.
posted by aramaic at 10:14 AM on August 4, 2006

30th july, avoided $100 bribe by playing hey jude on guitar to russian police

Great post, woj.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:36 AM on August 4, 2006

Oh man, the progress report map is just about the most amusing thing on this site. What the hell are those guys doing up in Sweden? And the guys in Spain....

Thanks for this post. Its hilarious. Its also got me thinking about ways to raise money for a project I'm looking to start. I'm not sure I'm crazy enough for this sort of thing though.
posted by davehat at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2006

Hm. The rules say it's limited to cars under 1000cc and "generally considered to be crap". But the video shows decent-looking, if older, VW Golfs and the like, which I'm pretty sure don't come in an under 1l model and nobody I know considers them crap.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:47 AM on August 4, 2006

George I expect you will find that in Europe many of these are available in quite small engine displacements which are not aviailable in the new world owing to a modern western fascination with burning gas.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:59 AM on August 4, 2006

George_Spiggott - Those are most likely Volkwagen Polos, which "weigh in" at 1043cc. The rules allow for displacement above 1000cc, you just have to offset the extra power with an additional donation of £1 per cc. The rule is mainly just a suggestion to invite more adventure into your experience by setting out in less than ideal trasnportation.
posted by woj at 11:11 AM on August 4, 2006

woj, great post. I've been seriously thinking about this for next year, too. May have a good sponsor lined up. Three team members so far so we're thinking of taking two cars - have been examining options. Plan is to go for one 'decent' vehicle (sj410 maybe? or the 4x4 panda?) and one comedy one. The Fiat Amigo is currently leading the latter category. C'mon - how could you resist this beauty?

davehat: once you leave Poland, you can choose your own route to Mongolia. Some take the Northern route which takes them through Sweden, Finland, Russia and then down. Also, I think one team (the mini guys?) started from Spain. My preference is for the Southern route - though we might skip the Iran part...
posted by blag at 6:11 PM on August 4, 2006

What's that line about mad dogs and Englishmen?
posted by Quietgal at 9:13 PM on August 4, 2006

I am going to do this someday.
posted by blacklite at 11:48 PM on August 4, 2006

Blag, the Amigo comes with the leopard skin rug, right?
posted by davehat at 4:52 AM on August 5, 2006

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