Spirit of adventure
Two friends, one car and 10,000 miles certainly adds up to an ‘epic trip’, as Laura Cartledge discovers.
For two thrill-seeking friends turning 30 was never going to be marked with just a quiet pint down the pub.
“It was Steve’s idea really – between us we do come up with hair brain schemes,” grins Alec Wilding. “The madder the idea is, the more we are likely to do it.”
There are plenty of words you could use to describe the Mongol Rally and ‘mad’ seems a tame one.
In fact the 10,000 mile challenge claims ‘if nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong’.
Thankfully Alec, from Worthing, and Steve Lilley, from Bognor Regis, are no strangers to adventure.
“We met out in Thailand, we were both there when the tsunami hit,” Alec recalls. “He was the first English person I met and I couldn’t believe he was from Bognor.
“We were sat on the other side of the world and realised we had mutual friends.”
With the bar set high from the start, this daring duo knew they would need something special to mark their birthday milestone.
“We see this as the ultimate trip,” reveals Alec. “And feel this is the time to do it.
“I said to myself ‘then I can turn 30 and settle down’,” he grins, “but I secretly know that is a lot of nonsense. It is what I am saying to appease my girlfriend.”
For such an epic event, the Mongol Rally has a surprisingly short list of requirements – get a car, raise money and finally drive to Mongolia.
The hunt for ‘a banger’ to drive saw Steve contact local dealerships before a reply from Nissan Yeomans in Bognor Regis allowed them to claim their dream motor.
“We were keen to get a Nissan Micra they are meant to be bombproof, hopefully not literally,” laughs Alec, “but we know spare parts are meant to be easy to get everywhere.”
Spare parts may be the least of their worries however as Alec recalls the first time he and Steve met the Micra.
“The guy said ‘here’s the keys, you can go and have a look but I am not sure it’s going to start’,” smiles Alec. “It didn’t.”
Another slight problem is that the engine size is just bigger than the one litre guideline, but flexibility is given if there is a ‘comedy factor’.
This currently means Alec and Steve are toying with turning it into a pirate ship ‘complete with a sail and cannons’.
Next they focused on the fund-raising element, choosing Mind as the charity to benefit from the £1,000 target.
“It’s a cause that rings home for both of us,” explains Alec.
“My full time profession is as a paramedic for the London Ambulance Service and I know through my job that it is an area that is really under-funded at the moment.”
The donations page received £200 in the first 24 hours alone, leaving the friends ‘overwhelmed by the response’.
“It’s nice, not just to be doing it, but everyone getting on board,” Alec admits.
This extends to local businesses as the fund-raising effort sees parts of the car up for sale to sponsors.
“Some of the teams have approached the likes of Red Bull but we are big fans of Mr Toys Flying Wok Noodles and would love it is the car was covered in businesses like that,” reveals Alec.
“It’s an international rally and we want to represent West Sussex.”
It may be a case of ‘so far so good’ but there is still the issue of the drive to conquer.
Thousands of miles sounds a long way before you consider the route will take them across mountains and desert, through countries they’ve never heard of without even a support car or GPS.
Yet Alec believes ‘the amount of time spent in a tiny car with one person’ will be the biggest test.
“I am lucky, we are lucky, that we are both similar minded,” he confesses.
“Actually the more we have been planning and talking about it the more we realise we might be the perfect team.
“It’s going to be quite tough, it is 10,000 miles and you have to get through certain countries by the visa time requirement…” he adds.
“July seems like a long way away but there is still a lot to do.”
Amazingly Alec says they ‘don’t want to plan too much’ as they hope to keep it true to the rally’s beginning when ‘friends got in a car and wanted to see how far they could drive’.
And they are not joking when they say the only thing that is booked is ‘two kingsize hotel rooms’ at the Hilton, Moscow, to enjoy on the journey home.
“Our idols are the guys who did the rally last year in a mini with a red phonebox on the roof while wearing bowler hats,” Alec beams.
“For us it just has to be done, if nothing else it will be fun.”
Images courtesy of The Adventurists
March 12, 2015 Motors and Gadgets