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Kochi to Calicut, 182 km

Wednesday 11th April

sunny 34 °C

After a good nights sleep we woke up early for breakfast at 7am ready for our briefing at 7:45am. Unfortunately it wasn't a good start, as straight off the bat Team 16's rickshaw (Gemma and Dan) wouldn't start. Team 15 (Tim, Tom and Nicole) went ahead and got all the information while Team 14 (Nick and I) tried to help get the rickshaw started and with the help of the security guards we were back on the road.

All 3 rickshaws back together we set off at 8:30am. Coming out of Kochi was very busy and the roads didn't get any better with us having to do lots of stop, starting as we had traffic pulling out at us and a lot of buses overtaking.

After 80km and a petrol stop Nick suggested Tom took over driving our rickshaw as I was getting tied and the clutch was starting to play up again. I was having to use two hands to de-clutch and change in to first whilst having to quickly add a bit of throttle. With Tom driving Team 14's rickshaw I became navigator in Team 15's with Tim driving and Nicole on comms.

Due to road diversions the route was very slow going. We therefore decided to go through the next closed road, which was in the process of being laid (everyone else was driving down here too). As the rickshaws bombed down the uneven surface of the road with work men and trucks weaving between us they were getting worst for wear. This didn't put us off the next road closure we came across though. We just thought fuck it, we'll go through it, if the road workers let us. They were laying paving stones in lovely pattern and didn't seem concerned when Nicole and I asked if we could drive over their work. Once Nicole and I moved a barrel out of the way to let the Rickshaws through we were on our way again, along with a few bikes. Unfortunately when we reached the other end there was a pile of building material, some barrels and a concrete slab. Nicole and I jumped out and cleared the way again so the boys could take the Rickshaws through with one wheel just gliding the edge of a foot drop.

As we entered Calicut the traffic really started to build and we got caught out by a few one way streets (not that it probably mattered) so we pulled over to all look at our maps decide the best route. While Tim, Tom, Nick and I had a discussion. Gemma and Nicole were suddenly surrounded by a group of young boys wanting their picture. After prizing them away from their fans we hit the road again with a plan.

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By now we were all struggling with the clutches. As the traffic starting to build and afternoon was slowing becoming evening, we were all feeling the effect of the heat and lack of food, having not eaten since breakfast. It was understandable that as we approached a horrible railway crossing, which was blocked with traffic, that Tim got cramp in his foot and had to turn off the road in pain. After a quick stop I took over for Tim (well for all of 10mins) and with Tom in the lead and Dan behind we carried on down the small extremely busy road, to another cross the railway further down.

Now here I feel I need to explain these crossings. They are not like the UK where the tarmac road continues and the train tracks are embedded in so its a smooth drive across. These crossing are literally across the tracks, sometimes they are surrounded by small pavers but most of the time it's just small rocks between the tracks meaning you get a very bumpy ride.

Turning on to the tracks we realized the reason for the hold up and traffic, there was a small hatchback stuck on the tracks with its wheels spinning and several people attempting to push it off. Tom for team 14 just went for it, crossing quickly as possible, I started to go over as fast as I could and as I passed the stuck car it span it's wheels throwing small rocks, with one hitting my arm and another hitting the side of the rickshaw missing Tim's face! We were glad to get to the other side. Team 16 however had the unfortunate luck of the clutch going in the middle of the crossing! Now there was a car and Rickshaw stuck on the tracks, our hearts were pumping. Nicole and Nick ran over to push Dan and Gemma's rickshaw off the tracks to safety before stopping to access the damage. Sadly we couldn't get Team 16 moving and Team 15 couldn't change gear so it was another call to the mechanics for help. Luckily we were only 1.7km away so a mechanic could walk to help us out.

Knowing we had a huge day the next day 258km we took the decision that Tom and I would go ahead fill our 1ltr plastic bottles (19 in total now) with petrol ready for the next day, so we could fill up and get moving as soon as possible in the morning. After filling up, Tom and I headed to the tour hotel to wait for the others.

Team 15 and 16's drive back was not fun. The mechanic drove Team 16's Rickshaw with no clutch back over the railway lines with Tim following behind not able to change gears easily or get in neutral and driving at dusk. (Well done Tim that must have been scary!)

All together again we happily left the rickshaws at the tour hotel to get fixed and got 2 Autorickshaws to our hotel. Thank goodness the Woodies Blesisure Hotel was good with a huge bed and great shower. They had a restaurant so we headed there for food to save finding some where. Fed and hydrated we went straight to bed.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 04:23 Archived in India Tagged calicut challenge richshaw woodies_blesisure_hotel

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