After we picked up the car from our friend William – Nithya met us at home to get her keys and see us off! We relied on Googlemaps to get us out of London, which caused a little bit of stress, but we managed to make it. Sebastien was getting used to driving on the left-hand size of the road and was having some difficulties accurately judging how far he was from the curb. While he did well 99% of the time. There was one point where he clipped the curb on my side. We heard this tick-tick-tick sound and all of a sudden the front left hubcab flipped up, hit our windshield and flew over our car. Luckily, there was no damage, due partially to the fact that our hubcaps are the size of paper plates, and probably about as heavy. When we stopped at a gas station to check it out, we noticed that all of the hubcaps are held on by zip ties! We are estimating that none of them will survive to Mongolia. They’re just for show anyway!
We drove to some pretty English countryside and finally arrived at Goodwood camping groups, down the street from where the Launch was happening the next day. It had been raining for days, so the campground was a bit swampy. We arrived when the rain had paused for a while, so we were able to set up our tent while it was somewhat dry.
Teams were milling about getting to know each other, so we joined in for a bit, but it was rainy and we were pretty tired so we didn’t stay up too late.
It then proceeded to monsoon during the night, at which point we realized that our tent was not, in fact, completely waterproof. We managed to stay warm and dry while sleeping, but our bags were not quite as lucky! We hadn’t unpacked much into the tent, so it wasn’t TOO bad.
We woke up the pitter patter of rain, and decide to head into town for a proper English breakfast before we set off. After we had filled up on eggs benedict (delish) and an “All-Day” breakfast that included deep-fried toast, we headed to Goodwood Motor Circuit for the festivities. It was rainy, but people were still out and about.
Our team had a few problems registering because they had incorrectly tracked our deposit, but we managed to get that all sorted. There was a live band playing, as well as a demonstration of Mongolian wrestling. They even got some of the Ralliers to get in on the wrestling action – one of them was named Spud and he was parading around in a leopard print thong. He displayed some fierce heart when it came to wrestling, and even patented a new move – wrapping his legs around the Mongolian wrestler to avoid being thrown to the muddy ground. This lasted for a spell until the Mongolian wrestler finally laid the smack down on Spud and threw him to the ground. Another Rallier was from an American team that has a totally suitable (i.e. CHEATER) vehicle for the Rally – a Ford truck that somehow managed to get vehicle approval. While not perhaps totally in the spirit of the Mongol Rally (not adventurous!) I think it’s going to be good to have them around in case we ever need a tow!
After a few of these activities – we were finally off! We circled Goodwood Motor Circuit and headed off to Dover (after we asked someone to make sure we were going in the right direction). We stopped to fill up our gas and realized we had no idea how to open the gas tank. Ten minutes and a few teams laughing at us later – we found the latch and we were on our way.
The drive to Dover was pretty. We saw a lot of Rally teams passing us, but I’m sure that’s something we will be used to by the end!
We enjoyed a cold beer sailing across from Dover to Calais, and were on our way to Antwerp.