Oh, how I wish the heavens would align so I could participate in this summer’s Rickshaw Run: the Himalaya/Monsoon Edition. Beginning on June 23, racers will traverse 2000 miles of road — described as “average, bad, terrible and non-existent depending on where you go” — through India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and China. And that’s just the first leg.
Organized by the brilliantly-named Institute of Adventure Research (a.k.a., Tom Morgan), the 2-week-long contest is a charity event disguised as an adventure race. On Day One, racers spend the day “playing cricket and acquainting ourselves with the rickshaws, each other and no doubt some gin and tonics.” Subsequently, teams launch from the start line (this year, Calcutta) and travel the length of the mighty Himalayan range — passing through mountains, forest, jungles, wild plains, and “just about everything India can through at you and your almost useless vehicle” — toward the finish line, using any route they like. There are optional checkpoints along the way, but who has time to stop when your 150cc vehicle travels at only 34 miles per hour?
Why a rickshaw? With only 3 wheels and half a horse power, Morgan argues that the rickshaw is more fun than any other vehicle on the planet. Amusingly, he claims the Rickshaw is “undoubtedly the ultimate long distance, off road machine, despite being designed for short distances on road.”