Given that I am writing this in a school converted to a hostel in Prague, Czech Republic, I feel it necessary to give some background on what I'm up to at the moment. I am currently taking part in the Mongol Rally, hosted by the Adventurists. This is a charity rally that started in England on July 13 and will continue on for weeks as teams trickle into the finishline in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia beginning in early August and some as late as September (though the last official "finishing party", the one we're aiming for, is August 23). The rally is open to any vehicle though modesty is preferred. How modest? Well for example, I have chosen for our team a 1999 989 cc, 3-cylinder Daihstsu Cuore, that is to take us to Mongolia and back again to London…or that's the idea anyway. I bought it two weeks before the rally for 500 British pounds, about $750.
Given this is a motorcycle blog I'll leave the four-wheeled talk behind and show some of the two and three wheeled vehicles that are to be on the rally. Keep in mind the context, these photos were taken at the Start line, the night before the rally began, at Bodiam Castle in England. The absolute shortest route possible is 5,450 miles but most teams will choose a much longer one (This is a charity rally and not a race. The idea isn't to get there first but to enjoy the journey, and make it through despite odds stacked against you). My team for example, will log a total of approximately 16,000 miles all told.
The drivers of this vehicle had it built in Northern Ireland by a custom fabricator. It's equipped with a turbo-diesel Peugot engine and 5 speed manual transmission, as well as full selection of spares and a trailer. He has the intention of finishing the rally and continuing to traverse the planet, shipping it from Japan to Seattle, then from somewhere on the east coast back to England. He said they don't have a set schedule, but if they finish by Christmas "that'd be cool".
Here are a couple smaller cc'd bikes. The poor chap with his head cover off tells me he's experiencing power loss (hence his valve adjustment). Not a good place to be the night before setting off on a journey crossing 1/3 of the planet. The moped speaks for itself. This journey is not for the faint of heart.
A typical scene at the Start line for the Mongol Rally. Pre-rally prep decisions include deciding between a half-windsor or full for the castle party (he went with the full), whether wearing a chicken suit the entire journey still sounds like a good idea and if it was wise to start the Mongol Rally less than a week after getting your motorcycle license. All true stories.
What more is there to say? The Mongol Rally is a tough journey, generally conquered (or failed) behind the helm of an under-powered vehicle entirely unsuitable for the faced conditions, but all with a light-heart and for the good of charity. I got dragged into the madness by my English girlfriend, and ever since the logistics of it have completely consumed my life. We're now well on our way to the capitol of Mongolia…no turning back now.
Readers can follow (or read about) my rally on our blog at www.americanvagrant.com
By: Jacob Wisdom