At 1am on Tuesday 21 August, a beleaguered and forlorn looking Nissan Micra unwittingly turned onto Suhkbataar Square and stumbled across the finish line of the Mongol Rally, reports mad rallist James Huff.
Out of this wind-swept, rain-battered and sand-eroded beast stepped two exhausted looking Westerners about 8 days past their 'shower-by' date.
It had taken James (formerly of the Defence Academy, Shrivenham), pictured right with family at the send off in July, and fellow drive Ilia 32 days to reach Ulan Bator in Mongolia, on this 'Carbon Neutral' journey across Eurasia. The journey had encompassed a third of the globe, 17 countries and slightly more than a handful of flat tyres – all in a 21 year old Nissan Micra.
It wasn’t not a journey for the feint-hearted; we crossed knee-deep rivers in complete darkness, changed tyres precariously on the mountain-side and drove through 50 degree deserts.
Outside of Europe the roads are dire. At one point it took us 4 days to drive 200 miles, driving more than 12 hours a day. A distance like that in England could be done in 4 hours.
There were some crazy moments along the way including:
• talking my way out of a speeding ticket when caught doing 100 in a 50 area (Bulgaria);
• stumbling across an oil installation in Kazakhstan, where they put us up in an air conditioned chalet, and wined and dined us, whilst they fixed up one of the cars in our convoy – all for free;
• busting our front shock absorbers and having to drive a teeth rattling 500 miles on it;
• gashing open the fuel tank and blowing the radiator hose in Mongolia all because we were driving way too fast for the conditions;
• and getting stuck in a couple of rivers and having to get towed out – sometimes when we had to by-pass collapsed bridges.
We could not have done this without the support of everyone who helped along the way and back at home. Lease Direct, The Ace Café, The Printing House, Brandcast Media, Netparts and CO2 Balance were kind enough to sponsor our mad-venture, for which we are very grateful.
As well as being carbon neutral, the journey has also helped raise awareness of a number of charities including local aid organisation Swindon Foodbank.
James is aiming to raise £1000 for a number of charities, including Mercy Corps and CAMDA, and has raised 60 per cent of his target so far. Any further donations would be gratefully received at: www.justgiving.com/preparationM
Remember…for every £1 donated through JustGiving they can reclaim an extra 28p for charity!