An Indian rickshaw puts you right at the bottom of the Indian road hierarchy thus giving you perfect opportunity to see India from the gutter according to the Adventurists who run the Rickshaw Run. They go on to state, a rickshaw is barely fit for the purpose of a brief journey across town. It’s only when you hit the open road or indeed off-road that the beauty of these vehicles becomes apparent. Nothing of the design of these noisy tripods is with comfort, safety or reliability in mind.
It is probably the least suitable vehicle on the planet for covering the entire subcontinent in two weeks. It would probably be easier on a cow.
I thought I would acquaint you with our lovely Rickshaw that will become our best friend and biggest nightmare over the next two weeks.
Name: Joey – but she’s a girl named Joey…one badass 3-wheeled punk girl.
Team Song: Hey Ho, Let’s Go by the Ramones
How she works:
Let’s begin with starting her…which we haven’t quite mastered yet. There’s a lever on the left hand side of the front seat that you have to yank with all of the power you have to start the thing while in neutral (that is if you can find neutral). I call this lever the blister maker… and it’s basically like a pull-start cord to a lawn mower – you have to put your back into it…while you are sitting in a very uncomfortable seat.
Gears: The gears and clutch are in the left hand. To change gear you pull in the clutch level and rotate the handlebar forwards or backwards. Finding the gears can be an art form.
Brakes: The only brake is the one on the right hand side of the floor and it’s done with your foot. Simple to use, but not at all comfortable!
Steering: Wiggle the handlebars and you change direction. However since it only has 3 wheels, rickshaws have a balance problem if you turn too sharply…one that will leave it on it’s side.
Reverse: There is a reversing gear (level on the right hand side of the seat) that we can never seem to get to work. If all else fails we put in neutral and push. Hopefully not in the middle of a busy traffic circle.
Electronics: 12 volt system. There are various lights that offer you a candle’s worth of illumination. Most vitally there the horn, controlled from a button on the handlebar. Use it OFTEN, for everything – turning right, turning left, overtaking, saying Namaste – horn is the language of traffic in India.
Engine: The mighty 7 Horsepower 2 stroke engine single cylinder force air cooled engine lives in the back of the shaw. One sparkplug, You’ve got 4 forward gears (if you can find them) and 1 reverse.
Fuel: We have to mix our fuel and oil in a precise ratio and then ensure it gets mixed up – then we can put fuel in the tank. There is no gas gauge and were told that the way we know that we are out of fuel is that the shaw stops. Hence – we bought a jerry can.
Seating: Uncomfortable. I think that sums it up.
There she is – our little beautiful beast Joey. They say we will shed tears when we have to part with her at the end. That’s hard to imagine now – but I’d like to believe that it’s true.