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Mongol Rally: How To Drive 7,000 Miles Without A Clutch

I day I joined the Cads was my birthday and before the sun was high, my new team and I were racing our way across Kazakhstan in search of random adventures and misadventures.

Honestly, life was pretty good. We were driving through some of the most beautiful places in the world to visit.

That is until Victoria, our glorious  kia picanto, decided to give me an early birthday present in the form of the clutch cable snapping.

Thank you Victoria, it’s just what I always wanted for my birthday.

This wasn’t the first time the Cads had this issue and it wouldn’t be the last.

Victoria had given  this same present twice before. I suppose that since the third time happened on my birthday, it was her way of welcoming me into team after I my first car was totaled in Russia, and spent the afternoon with Cobra and Chesse (Our friendly Russian cops).

We tried fixing it a couple times but each time it snapped within an hour of leaving the “mechanics”.

That is when we came to the brilliant conclusion we were wasting our money on a problem that would never be fixed.

We came to the only logical decision – to drive the remaining 7,000 miles without a clutch.

Now you might be wondering how to actually drive a car without a clutch. Well, it’s not that hard.

1- Before you start the car, you put it in first gear and then turn the key. This makes the car bump start itself.

2- Afterwards, you have to match the revs in the engine with the correct gear you want to change into as you are driving down the road.

3- When you think the revs are close to matching, you pop it out of gear and hold it right next to the gear you want to shift into.

4- When the revs match perfectly, the gear pops itself into place. No peddle necessary.

Now that you got the picture, you are probably thinking this is a great solution to such a problem, right?

Right and wrong.

Yes, it did eventually get us to our destination; however, not without a couple of major issues.

1– We couldn’t completely stop the car. If we stopped, the car would die.

This meant we had to start the process all over.

2- Starting the car this way only worked about 60% of the time. The other 40%, we had to get out of the car and push it until it finally gave in and started.

Now here it is important to remember the first problem.

We couldn’t STOP! Imagine three people outside a car, in the middle of nowhere, on the worst roads ever created by man, trying to push start a car.

“Believe it or not this is a road…..actually this is a good road.”

Now imagine three people frantically running down the highway to jump into the moving car they just started while simultaneously dodging several man size pot holes, rocks, and even other traffic.

Yeah! Now we are RALLYING!

On the rally,you lose track of what was, at one time, your ordinary routine, a fact I love about the last 4 months of my life.

I soon found that praying for the car to start, pushing the car, chasing after the car, and jumping into the car, moving down the highway, became apart of my daily life.

I know it sounds strange, but I have to say, I loved it.

If I had to choose between worrying about bills, a mortgage, grocery shopping, or push starting a car up a beautiful mountain range and then running after said car and jumping into it at least 200 times in 40 days.

Well, you know where I’m going with this…..

Little Mongol Rally Photo shoot… get in line ladies.

Since we always had to restart the car it stopped, we simply couldn’t allow it to stop.

This meant driving in any sort of traffic that we were starting and stopping the car a million times, and remember that the car only started itself 60% of the time.

So not only were we trying our hardest to drive without stopping, but also pushing the car through several traffic jams to get it started whenever it stopped.

If you have ever been to Asia, you know how insane the traffic jams can become, and honestly, after traveling their roads, I can’t help wonder if most of the jams are cause by cars having to be pushed and jump started.

Did I mind these problems?

One good thing about the car stalling so much…..Camel chasing.

I’m not going to lie. Every time the car started itself, especially on a hill, everyone cheered and patted each other on the back, but I would be lying if I didn’t say,

One fun fact about me, is that in these moments. I never felt more like a rallier than when I had to push our clutchless car uphill while making our own road in the steeps of Mongolia.

Apart of me loved it.

We were on the rally, without a clutch, through some of the hardest roads on the planet. It wasn’t easy.

It pushed us to our limits. It tested our commitment. And it strengthened our resolve to persevere through it all.

There was no turning back. We HAD to finish the rally. And even though Ulaanbaatar isn’t one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I was still excited to get there.

46 thoughts on “Mongol Rally: How To Drive 7,000 Miles Without A Clutch”

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    Yikes! My car’s clutch cable snapped two weeks ago, and I nearly had a heart attack. I was in the middle of downtown Málaga and thought it was the end of the world – good one you (and you saved yourself loads of money, believe me!)

    1. Wow I glad you where alright. Yea after about a week I was so used to driving without a clutch that when I took over another teams car for a day, that had a clutch, I had to learn to reuse it.

  2. You know . . . a working clutch isn’t usually thought of an ‘optional’ part of a car that’s taking you on a massive road trip.

    But then again, this sounds like it’s exactly in the spirit of the Rally.

  3. What an awesome experience! It’s moments like those that make a trip a lifetime memory. You never forget when something like that goes wrong, but you adapt to overcome it. Nice!

  4. I can’t lie, I laughed out loud imaging three people try to get into a car after it finally started!

  5. Jen At Dapperhouse

    This reminds me of my ancient hatchback toyota corolla I drove in college – I had to pop it to start everytime too – lol 🙂 What an exciting article!!

  6. This looks insane! I don’t even know what a clutch is but I’m pretty sure I would veto this adventure!

  7. This looks insane! I don’t even know what a clutch is but I’m pretty sure I would veto this adventure!

  8. Janelle Dangerfield Shank

    i agree that does look insane! i wish i was more chill about stuff like this. nope lol

  9. That’s one of those experiences that you remember and talk about years later. 🙂 Hurrah that everyone was all-in and not grouching, that makes a world of difference. 😉

  10. I can see how much fun you guys got by just looking at the photos. I don’t know if I know what to do if I ever have a clutch issue on my vehicle. Glad you managed to do something and made it to work. What a fun road trip you guys had.

  11. Felicia Franceschelli

    How interesting. I fortunately do not have a clutch in my car but this like an adventure to me!

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