Four Irish guys will take on the Mongol Rally this summer in a 12-year-old Renault Clio. I recently spoke to Ben Ruddy about this adventure of a lifetime, all in aid of raising funds for the Dublin Simon Community.
1. Tell us what is ‘Mayo to Mongolia’?
Mayo to Mongolia is Ireland’s entry into the Mongol Rally 2018. We are three Mayo men (Ben Ruddy, Joe McGing, David Kelly) and one Wicklow native (Luke Cafferky). Billed as ‘the greatest motoring adventure on the planet’, the Mongol Rally is an unassisted rally from Europe to Mongolia that takes place every year to raise money for charities across the world.
There are only three rules for the rally:
1. You can only take a farcically small vehicle with an engine of 1.2-litres or less.
2. You’re completely on your own.
3. You’ve got to raise a minimum of £1000 for charity.
Always wanting to push the boundaries, we aim to rally to Mongolia and back again over three months this summer. We’re considering Mongolia the half-way point, not the end point. We’ll take the Silk Route there by heading south through Turkey, the Caucuses, Iran, and almost every ‘Stan’ on the map.
On this path we’ll cross several deserts (such as the Gobi Desert), drive through the remnants of the Aral Sea, and hit over half the height of Everest traversing the world’s second highest road called the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. Our way home will take us north through Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
2. What motivated you to take this trip?
Having previously backpacked all over the world, we wanted to see if we could do a trip spanning the world overland. Of course, we could have made this trip in a 4×4, but we wanted something to challenge us. We’re thinking that ‘If nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong’. Taking a totally unsuitable vehicle to cross the world in sets the stage for some fun happenings and plenty of break downs.
Participating in the Mongol Rally gives us a chance to help others too. While we’re financing the trip ourselves, we’ll be using it as a platform to raise awareness for the great work the Dublin Simon Community are engaged in, and to raise money on their behalf. To date we’ve raised almost €4,000 for our charity and hope to reach €5,000 before we depart on July 9th.
3. What vehicle are you using?
We are using a Renault Clio generously sponsored to us by J.J. Burke Car Sales in Co. Mayo. It’s only had one female driver from new in 2006 so it’s probably been driven very well up until now. The poor thing doesn’t know what it’s in for very shortly! We’ll definitely be putting it through its paces as we cover the 20,000km+ and 40 countries on the round trip between here and the Far East. We chose the Clio because it fits within the 1.2-litre guidelines for the rally, although it will make for some interesting times looking for parts if we break down in Asia with a car from Europe.
4. How are you preparing the car for this journey?
We’re in the process of fitting a sump guard to the bottom of the car at this very moment, and we’ll certainly need it as the roads become almost non-existent, particularly in Mongolia. We also have our eyes peeled for a set of all-terrain tyres with steel rims, because at the moment the Clio is sitting pretty (if not appropriately) on some shiny alloys.
Recently we refitted the car with a leisure battery, power invertor, several USB charging ports, front spot lights, and side mounted lights for illuminating our camp site at night time. We plan to spend the vast amount of time camping to reduce costs on the journey.
On top of the car we have a half-sized roof box for storage, mounted next to which is a flat panel box for a spare tyre, two jerry cans, and a high-lift jack.
5. What will you be playing on the stereo on the way?
While there’s four of us doing the rally, and each with different tastes, we’ll try to keep it appropriate for the moment we are in – blasting “Back In The U.S.S.R.” will be a must for the Russian border crossing; the English version of the 1979 Eurovision hit “Dschinghis Khan” will guide us as we crisscross the Mongolian Steppe, and Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” playing on loop will keep us going as the sun sets on the horizon.
6. If people want to support you on your mission how can they do it?
I have to say, we are extremely happy to have some wonderful sponsors behind us as we undertake this charity journey. J.J. Burke Car Sales for our wheels, Irish Ferries to get us across the ocean to the continent, Irish start-up company Hairy Eyes Sunglasses for helping keep our retinas safe in the blazing sun of the deserts, Tracker Shop Ireland for fitting our car with GPS tracking, and ABL CCTV for helping with modifications.
Our efforts to fundraise for our charity take precedence as we prepare to hit the road, and we would encourage people to donate to our GoFundMe page for the Dublin Simon Community We have signed a pledge with the Dublin Simon Community that 100% of donations received will go towards them.
The team would like to also raise at least €500 for the international NGO ‘Cool Earth’ who work to halt rainforest destruction, in an effort to offset the carbon footprint of our undertakings. If readers would like to donate to this very worthy cause, they can see our fundraising efforts here.
7. How can people follow your journey?
Please follow along on our journey from July through October on Facebook or on our website. We will have live bi-weekly updates from the road with Mid West Radio (96.1 FM), and if you’re curious where we are in the world, you can track our precise location online with our friends at www.trackershop.ie.
We wish the guys a safe journey to Mongolia and back!