We Brake for Gandhi Takes on the Rickshaw Run

Published: March 19th 2012
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I’m two weeks away from embarking on The Adventurist’s Spring 2012 Rickshaw Run and it’s starting to sink in that this trip is actually going to happen. My team, “We Brake for Gandhi,” is actually going to race an auto-rickshaw 2000 miles across India from Cochin to Shillong. There are times that I’m super excited about this trip and think it will be the adventure of a lifetime. Other times I question if I’m just bat-shit crazy. Regardless of the truth, India here I come!

Before I leave on this crazy trip I thought I’d take some time to explain a bit more about the Rickshaw Run, how I got involved and introduce my amazing teammates. I’ve been asked so many questions about this race. It’s great to know so many people are interested and supportive of my trip, thank you!

You’re doing WHAT?!
The Rickshaw Run is a 2000-mile auto-rickshaw race across India. A team of 2-4 people will drive a 3-wheel rickshaw (think tuk-tuk) with no rules, directions, or help from any planned sources. All teams are on their own to get from point A to point B. Is this safe? No - they even have a warning on their website. My parents have had serious talks with me on why I want to do this race. They keep asking me for contacts, dates and destinations of where I will be in India. Outside of starting in Cochin on April 8th and finishing in Shillong April 21st (knock on wood), I’ve got nothing. Their guess is as good as mine.

I’m doing the Rickshaw Run because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a country upfront and personal. It will be like no other trip I’ve ever been on. I envision rumbling through rural India meeting great people, seeing the “real” India, eating authentic food, and I have a great photo in my head of us driving our rickshaw off into the sunset, similar to the last seen in “Can’t Buy Me Love ” when they ride off into the sunset on a lawnmower. I’m also very aware that we will break down, be hot, sweaty, and dirty, lost, suffer from Delhi Belly, get in an accident, deal with theft, and become so frustrated that steam may come out of my ears. I just spoke with a veteran rickshaw-er and she said their rickshaw broke down before they
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You know you wish you were doing this!
left Kerala. The hard times will build character and hopefully by the end of the trip I can look back and laugh. I’m very aware this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be more like a walk through a field of land mines.

The Rickshaw Run was started in 2006 with 34 teams racing from Cochin to Darjeeling. Since then they’ve expanded to 3 races a year, each with 70 teams with slots filling up within the first 24 hours. You’d be amazing at how many people actually want to do this asinine adventure. It’s popular in the UK and quickly gaining international recognition. The parent company is called The Adventurists and they now run 4 other races around the world.

In addition to creating one of the most ridiculous races around the world, The Adventurists has raised over $5.4 million for charities. In order to participate in one of their many races, each team is responsible for raising a minimum of $1800 for charity, which most teams easily do and far surpass.The charity for the Spring 2012 Rickshaw Run is called Frank Water a nonprofit that is funding clean
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How many people are in there?
water initiatives across India. Since 2005, Frank Water has funded over 70 clean water projects throughout the developing world. We have successfully reached our goal of $2000! We are very grateful that so many people were happy to give to our cause. The donations continue to pour in! If you would like to donate to our fundraising, go to www.webrakeforgandhi.eventbrite.com. (Stay tuned for more information about our amazing contributors and sponsors in the next blog entry.)

The Rickshaw
An auto rickshaw is probably one of the most unsafe vehicles in the world. It’s unstable, only goes 35 mph, and is realistically only used in India for short trips around cities. Put one on the streets with trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and cows and it’s like a crazy video game. The last time I was in India we used them all the time as taxis. We successfully fit 4 people and our large backpacks in the back of one once! All 3 of us have our motorcycle licenses and will spend 3 days prior to the race test-driving the rickshaw.

The specs of an Auto Rickshaw:

• Engine: 2 stroke, single cylinder, forced air cooled
Frank WaterFrank WaterFrank Water

The charity we are donating too. They are helping create clean water initiatives across India

• Engine Size: 145.45cc
• Power: 7 HP at 5000 rpm (equiv. 1 family dog)
• Transmission: 4 forward, 1 reverse
• Top Speed: 55kmph (I've seen more, especially down hill)
• Fuel Capacity: 8 ltr + 1.4 reserve
• System Voltage: 12V , DC

Once we pimp it out with a stereo, speakers, an obnoxious horn, and a new paint job, it will be absolutely perfect. We couldn’t think of a better vehicle to see the country!

The Birth of We Brake for Gandhi
I first heard about the Rickshaw Run when I was in India in 2007. It sounded like the adventure of a lifetime and I put it on my Bucket List of things to do before I die. I didn’t know how, when or who with, but I knew I was going to make it happen.

March 2011, I met my soon-to-be-teammate Brandon Doyle on a ski trip organized by my roommate. Brandon and I were the same ski level and both found ourselves cooking all the meals. I guess you could say we were instant friends. Once back in SF we made it “Facebook Official” and Brandon posted about a competitor to the Rickshaw Run. I wrote back with a link to The Adventurists Rickshaw Run telling him that I’d wanted to do it for years. Brandon wrote back saying we should do it. I barely knew this guy and here he was saying we should go to India together. How could he be serious?

Skeptical, I called him up and sure enough, Brandon was serious about racing a Rickshaw across India. He pointed out that we had both been there before, we both love to travel, we know we can get a long on trips (granted 3 weeks in India is very different than a weekend in Tahoe), and when else were we going to find someone else that was willing to spend the time and money to race an auto rickshaw across India? He had some very good points. Living up to my “Carpe Diem” mentality, I agreed to go to India with Brandon. Life’s too short, right? 2 weeks later Brandon signed us up for the race. It was really going to happen. Brandon’s good friend Norm Xiao also signed up a team but his teammates weren’t able to make it. We happily accepted
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Back in 2007 I got a taste of driving a rickshaw. Who would have thought I'd be driving one for 2000 miles 5 years later?
him onto our team and he’s been a great addition ever since.

I have to give a big shout out to my ex-roommate Dylan Cannon for our team name. Brandon, Norm and I had a brainstorming session and came up with many names, but nothing was right. When I sent out a message for help, Dylan responded with “We Brake for Gandhi.” We all laughed and thought it was funny, but was PC? That said, is the Rickshaw Run PC? At the end of the night we knew that We Brake For Gandhi was the perfect team name.

A year later we have our Visas, International Driver’s License, plane tickets, hit our fundraising goals, sponsors, and are now counting down the days to go.

Meet Team We Brake for Gandhi!
We Brake for Gandhi is made up of 3 friends that are hungry for adventure. Casey, the lone female, has dreamed about doing the Rickshaw Run since she last was in India in 2007. She’s now getting the opportunity to check it off her bucket list – and will be wearing her hot dog costume along the way. Brandon has a passion for motorcycles and international travel. He cruises around the San Francisco hills on his vespa or motorcycle. Brandon has a knack for mechanics and will be in charge of making sure our rickshaw works. Norm is currently working on his own startup and this will be his first time to India. He has a great sense of humor and awesome ninja skills to protect us from harm. Needless to say, we are a rather motley crew.

Now for a Q&A with the team members:


1. Favorite mode of transportation: Elephant
2. Dream car and/or motorcycle: Mint green vespa with matching helmet and a scarf
3. Most inspirational movie for the trip: Motorcycle Diaries
4. Dream Job: To take over Anthony Bourdain’s job
5. What you are looking forward to most in India? Backwaters of Kerala, the Himalayas, and street food.
6. What you are most nervous about? Driving in Cities
7. Outside of the Rickshaw Run, what is the craziest thing you have ever done? Chinese Fire Drills on the 101 in a Winnebago
8. What is your favorite quote? Carpe Diem

1. Favorite mode of transportation: Anything on 2 wheels.
2. Dream car and/or motorcycle: Shelby Cobra
3. Dream Job: Anything that makes me happy.
4. What you are looking forward to most in India? Not getting dysentery.
What you are most nervous about? Running out of toilet paper.
Outside of the Rickshaw Run, what is the craziest thing you have ever done? Followed a hippie to a second location.
What is your favorite quote? "Never follow a hippie to a second location." - Jack Donaghy

1. Favorite mode of transportation: Anything that flies.
2. Dream car and/or motorcycle: Batmobile
3. Most inspirational movie: Forrest Gump
4. Dream Job: Trauma helicopter pilot
5. What you are looking forward to most in India? the food
6. What you are most nervous about? Driving on the left side
7. Outside of the Rickshaw Run, what is the craziest thing you have ever done? I rather not say, because my parents might be reading this
8. What is your favorite quote? 'A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain

Let the Journey Begin

It's been a year in the making and now our trip is upon us. Please follow us on this blog, our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/webrakeforgandhi, our Twitter: WeBrake4Gandhi, and we will be able to be located live from The Adventurists website. More info to follow for sure. We hope you follow us and enjoy the ride as much as we know we are going to.

Additional photos below
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Group Photo

My favorite from our photo shoot! I love We Brake for Gandhi!

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