Several days into the Challenge now so high time I shared some reflections. Let me put it simply: riding a rickshaw ain’t easy! Even on the largely flat roads of coastal Bangladesh it is, at the very best of times, like climbing an endless mountain on a road bike. Then there are the many bridges great and small, each requiring an effort akin to a mountain stage sprint finish in the Tour de France, with only the briefest respite on the downhill. Throw in the many inclines so slight your eyes cannot be sure if they are real, only your legs know for sure. And the sometimes long brick or crumbling sections of road, some sandy, each one a test for rider, machine and indeed passenger. You get the picture.
But all 10 teams, whether well trained or not so well prepared are surviving. The trick is to find a rhythm to take you along…
…and to look forward to the time to swap with your ride partner, sit back and enjoy the ride, the lush, paddy filled landscape, smiling, curious and cheering people, make some phone calls, take some pictures, chat to the kids running alongside, or stop for a daber pain (coconut water) fix. Yes! There is something very luxurious about being pulled across country at the perfect pedal-pace, able to observe and sense all that you are passing.
But a rickshaw challenger gets only so much rest. So four days in, our knees tested, backsides bruised and muscles expanding but aching we were ready for a cruise on another icon of this country of rivers: the ferry boat. Our rickshaws were not far away: they joined us for the crossing of the mighty Meghna river to Barisal.