The Mongol Rally 2010 is in full effect.
Last week, I was welcomed into Steppe On It!’s tiny but mighty Nissan Micra and shared the road with them on a 3-day trans-European adventure, the first leg of their journey to Mongolia. Embarking from the Goodwood Motor Circuit at the Festival of Slow in Chichester, England, we crossed the English Channel by way of the Chunnel, zipped through France, drank Trappist Beer just after crossing over the border into Belgium, made a pit-stop in Holland for a quick coffee break, and passed through Germany before arriving in the Czech Republic for an epic party at a medieval castle.
We spent nearly 2 days driving through Germany and had ample opportunity to test the roadworthiness of our 1.2 liter horse of a car. We revved her up to a top speed of 120 KM per hour on the Autobahn, hugged tight turns on country roads, cascading through the Bavarian highlands, and stopped to pay our respects to the regal Skeletons of Waldsassen Basilica before finally arriving in the Czech Republic.
Teams assembled at Klenova Castle, near Klatovy, dressed in their finest Jules Verne regalia for a night of excess. Nearly 2000 adventurers spent the night dancing, enjoying copious amounts of Hendricks gin and Czech beer, watching silent films and puffing shisha until sunrise. I parted ways with Andrew and Cody of Steppe On It! and headed to Prague as they set-off towards Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by way of Eastern Europe, Russia and Kazakhstan. They are now probably somewhere in Romania en route to the Russian border. Pictures of the entire journey from England to the Czech Republic will be coming in a future post.
A highlight reel of the Festival of Slow.
Before departing London we dropped by the Royal Geographical Society to receive a bit of inspiration and wisdom. The esteemed crucible of exploration and geographical research has been an essential outlet for mapping the farthest reaches of the globe for the past 180 years. While there, we perused the Society’s exhibits and leafed through the compendium of mind-blowing maps of Central Asia in the Foyle Reading Room.
On Friday, July 23rd, we winded our way through the English countryside, whizzing passed thatched roof houses and small villages before joyously arriving at a campground adjacent to Goodwood Motor Circuit. Before us was the most absurd assembly of vehicles any of us had ever seen. We spent the evening meandering about the campground, meeting other ralliers, swilling cocktails and exchanging routes, all while reveling at the panoply of vehicles. It was a great first taste of the Mongol Rally to come.
After a quick breakfast on Saturday morning, we made our way over to the staging area of the race track, where we prepared our car in the jubilant atmosphere of the Festival of Slow. The next few hours were filled with goofy banter between the Adventurists, ralliers and the droves of curious onlookers, who spent the day gawking at the unusual and humorous vehicles setting out to travel the ten thousand miles to Mongolia. We then took our lap around the famed track and were off to Mongolia.
Tom, the Founder of the Adventurists, discusses the conception of the Mongol Rally and dolls out advice for the Ralliers.
Andrew and Cody with John Cunningham of Mercy Corps. All the fun, games, and adventure are put together to raise money for various charities. Last year, the Mongol Rally raised just over 2 Million Pounds!
Since 1999, Mercy Corps Mongolia has helped the country’s families – one-third of whom live nomadic lifestyles – find and harness opportunities in a changing economy, with access to loans, business training and other assistance.
Your donation to the Mongol Rally helps Mongolian families succeed, and preserves culture in one of the world’s greatest frontiers.
Please consider making a donation to Steppe On It!’s Mercy Corps fund here.
Some of my favorite vehicles from the Festival of Slow:
A chat with the guys from the Green Man’s Country Club team driving the 1984 Rolls Royce Silver Spur.
77 Ambulances are participating in this year’s Rally.
Atlas Obscura is a proud sponsor of Steppe On It!’s attempt to complete the 2010 Mongol Rally, raising money for Mercy Corps. Seth Teicher has joined them for the first leg of their adventure. Previously:
- Team Steppe On It, Twitter is here , Facebook is here , Mongol Rally site is here. Czechout website is here