The Himalayan Challenge
21 September - 11 October 2018
OCTOBER 1, 2018
Mussoorie to Rishikesh
Flowing into the Ganges
Today we enjoyed the first day without significant amendments since we left McLeod Ganj on day three of the rally and the routemeister that is Anthony Preston, back in the maps and planning room at base, enjoyed his first day off in a over a week. We’re all hoping that this state of affairs continues.
After an excellent breakfast we then enjoyed a great route out of town with next to no traffic. Along these deserted byways we quickly climbed to 2,250m under a brilliant blue sky and a burning sun. Colourful villages and impressive views over terraced rice fields made for a picture perfect scene.
The first Time Control was in the busy town of Chamba, in the quirkily modern Friends Club which served cups of steaming chai or coffee. And, as we sat and sipped them, a pair of Indian army trucks lumbered on past hauling a couple of big howitzers behind them. Perhaps these were to signal the start of the next section?
Soon after this refreshment break the first Regularity began, rolling along a 22km section of a stunning mountain road with views over the huge ‘lake’ where the Bhilangna River widens. There were plenty of changes of gradient, some loose surfaces and a couple of speed changes for the crews to contend with. But the fun continued even once Gill Cotton had stopped the clocks because this road, looped around the lake thereby giving us some more excellent views and more superb driving.
A second Passage Control in the grandly titled “Hotel” Shyam Sawera made sure that everyone who’d gone into the loop was accounted for before they were sent on their way to the lunch Time Control in the Evergreen Restaurant in Pursol Gaon high above the water.
Once they’d eaten their fill and taken in some more of the views and extensive local ambiance, the home run began. Unfortunately though, the road from Chamba to the night halt in Rishikesh was under extensive repair for most of its 60km, which did make for slow going at times. There were even places along the route when Eric Claeys who, with Rene Declercq won last year's Baltic Challenge, and also a veteran of the ERA's epic 2012 London to Cape Town event with Ben Deleye, was convinced he was back on North Kenya's notorious Marsabit Road.
By the time the crews reached the night halt in the Aloha Hotel on the banks of the famous River Ganges, they were more than ready for a rest and perhaps a jot of meditation, but for many there was work to be done in the carpark to ensure their cars were ready to face another day.
Roland Singer and Hans Malus had to retire their Saab however. After all their travails with the fuel system, it was the clutch that finally let them down today and their iconic Swedish car, is now on a truck, heading for Delhi and onwards to Austria. The crew are in good spirits though and are looking at their options as far as continuing with the event.
Today’s long and technical Regularity shook up the leaderboard somewhat and shot Manuel Dubs and Robi Huber back up into first place followed by Artur Lukasiewicz and Adam Tuszynski in second, with Mike Velasco and Peter St George tying with Rene Declercq and Eric Claeys in third. See the results page for the details.
Adrian Hodgson and Matt Bryson had a relatively bad day. Their day's penalty of a mere 24 seconds dropped them from first to seventh place overall.
It’s been another epic day in the Himalayas and there were some tired crews this evening but tomorrow’s another day and we’ve even been allowed a late 10am start.