Today was the chilled day I had been looking forward to for days now… well, don’t wanna sound like a broken record but yeah, you guessed it, that didn’t happen yet again!
Having at least been able to sleep in a little together with our German friends from teams Wind Maker, Pink Chicken & Wild Turkeys we packed up our rickshaws for the glorious accent to the finish line. At 85km relatively easy and by far our shortest daily distance covered buuuut it’s 85km almost continuous uphill starting at about 100 meters above sea leave to just over 1,500 meters. We could only hope that Lily’s up for the challenge.
Loaded and ready to go we started her up… well, tried to anyway. She was in no mood to cooperate this morning, most likely someone told her about epic climb she’s expected to survive today. Actually was just someone (cough cough, Bram, cough) left the lights on last night so her battery was completely drained. To his defense the battery was already super low not recharging correctly throughout the trip so when we turned her off the night before leaving the lights on they were so dim that we all missed it. Oh well, small issue. After a few attempts push starting her we got her running.
Today wasn’t Lily’s day. Instead of the victory run a la Champs-Elysées she died again about 15 minutes after the start and this time refused to wake up no matter how far or fast we pushed her. Thank the gods, not sure which one is responsible for good karma so we’ll thank them all, we had our German mechanic team with us today who surely could fix her back up. After a few ignition devices/cables checks we figured changing the battery with the new one we purchased for loading our gadgets might do the trick. No big deal, a 5 minute job so after switching them out tried her again but still nothing, weird and frustrating for all! Seconds later she started smoking from behind the engine!!! Quickly turning her off we managed to save most of the cables but she short-circuited due to the + - being attached backwards… ouch! Both batteries were from the same company so without double checking we attached the reserve as the previous one as anyone would. Unfortunately instead of being + - this one was - + !! So basically we turned a super small issue into a pretty massive one! Another hour passed before we found what burned out and got it replaces. After a two hour stop Lily was back up and running but we proceeded with the accent as careful as possible.
This part of India is unlike any other we’d seen so far. Yesterday we’d seen our first clouds on this trip and last night the first rain which was more of a tropical downpour. Even at low altitudes it cools down at night to a very comfortable 24C though 35C seems to be a normal daytime temperature and with the added humidity seems hotter than the desert 42C from last week. The region is covered in rivers, lakes, rolling hills/mountains and exceptionally green. A true paradise! The people are also a lot different looking more Asian than India, shorter in stature and sorry to say for the other regions we’ve visited but also more generously interested in us, our story, the adventure and why we’re crazy enough to travel across India in a rickshaw. Recycling seems to have taken root here as well which has been great to see!
After a few detours we made it to Shillong around 4pm. Our German friends were still in need of accommodations but there being about 200 people from the Rickshaw Run in town and it being New Year’s long weekend in India that became a challenge. For tomorrow they have room at our hotel but until then they found somewhere else to rest tonight.
Having unloaded we headed for the finish line at the Polo stadium arriving shortly before it closed at 6pm. After 3,035 km over the past 12 days driving an average of 10 hours and 15 minutes a day for an average speed of 24.6 km/h we finally rolled Lily across the platform! What a moment it was!! The emotional rollercoaster of the past 2 weeks was now over in pure joy, comradery with other teams at the finish line, some local “red tea” which has to be the worst whiskey I’d ever tasted but at that moment was like a 21 year old single malt to us.
Our time with Lily wasn’t over yet though. Normally we would have had to hand her back over once crossing the finish line but Matt and the crew at The Adventurists were kind enough to let us keep Lily and company until tomorrow when we head back 500 high meters from Shillong to the SOS Children’s Village. A moment we’ve been looking forward to for months now and as luck would have it we’re gonna be able to share this experience with our private German mechanics was well! Can’t wait!!!