So originally when we signed up for the Mongol Rally the start was going to be today, Saturday, but for whatever reason plans changed and the start was moved to the Sunday morning. The idea was that all teams would head to the iconic Battersea Power Station in Central London for a jovial knees up before getting up and leaving at 7am on Sunday, no doubt ridiculously hungover and quite possibly still over the legal limit. With being on such a tight schedule for getting to Mongolia we decided to forego the official launch and head out late on the Saturday evening for a 00:30 ferry to Calais on the Sunday morning.
Having got up, packed, unpacked, re-packed at least twice Don and I cruised down to Alan’s in Bilsborrow to pick him and his kit up. More of the pack, unpack, re-pack went on and finally we were waved off by the mothership and Al’s mum Brenda. This was it, we were off!
Grey overcast weather changed to a pretty much full blown monsoon before turning into yet another scorcher of a day as we made slow but steady progress towards Battersea Park. My Dad and Penny were already there waiting to greet us and had passed us numerous updates on the best way to find the correct entrance to the park, but with no knowledge of Central London whatsoever we typically ended up on the total opposite side of the park to where we wanted to be and so had to try and work our way around the park whilst passing numerous other Mongol Ralliers heading in all different directions, clearly as lost and confused by the lack of directions as we were. Literally the last gate we came to was the one we had been looking for and so finally Plan F rolled into the start line to show our faces , meet a few old friends and to register our team.
I have never been so glad to get out of a car in my life, it was literally hotter than the sun in the Felicia but unfortunately it wasn’t much cooler out of the car. The father greeted us all with a hug, apologies dad, we were soggy and stinky! Al got us registered whilst we listened to Buddy the compare rabbit on over the PA system, Don did what he does best, he sourced beers – me? Well I was looking after Rob, he can be a bit of a handful at times!
We spent a few hours wandering about looking at other teams cars and saw all sorts of different vehicles ranging from a Citroen 2CV to an Ice Cream Van and even a £200,000 Ferrari… How the hell he expects to get that to Mongolia without A) breaking down and suddenly realising there isn’t a Ferrari dealership in Kazakhstan or B) Getting raped and pillaged by some of my less distinguished foreign colleagues I do not know! Good luck to him, hell of a story if he can avoid/take the raping and pillaging and proceed forth in the face of adversity to Ulaanbataar!
Whilst at the Launch Party we met up with Caroline – a girl who Don and I were on the Dixie Chicken Bus with last year and had a catch up with her whilst she scribbled “Never in a million years will you make it” on the side of our car – cheers Caroline ;). We also chatted with some sound northern lads from team Lost in Allegro, no guessing what they’re driving and also the folks from Just Add Water who with four in their team are also driving a Skoda Felicia to Mongolia, only they’ve mounted a little wooden sail boat to the roof – Nice. Whilst everyone left to go to the pub to get ridiculously drunk prior to an early morning rise for a police escort out of London and quite possibly to the nearest custody cell, Alan, Don and I loaded up and slipped out of Battersea Park into the night, our adventure had begun.