Bolton to Bishkek 2012

Between 5th and 22nd August 2012, JSG will be doing his annual charity stint. This time, driving from Bolton, UK to Bishkek, Krygysztan for Build Africa. You can find out all the details below, but he'd rather you just click the big donate button...

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About the Rally

Another year, another chance for everyone to sponsor me...

I've been told that rallying across Africa, twice just doesn't cut it for deserving donations any more. That driving to Georgia when the Russian tanks were invading just wasn't enough of a challenge. And that getting trapped in Sierra Leone is all a bit passé now. Even trekking to Syria in the middle of a civil war isn't that adventurous.

This year's rally is as follows:

  • 5th Aug: depart on a 5,000 mile trip from Bolton (OK, Manchester), UK to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. A country so poor they can't even afford vowels.
  • The end point is only 200 from China.
  • This should be less taxing than Sierra Leone, Syria, etc, right?

The route

Clearly a few hurdles are needed to convince you all to dig deep...

The Challenge

Whilst I set off on 5th August, I didn't sign up to rally until 8th July. I have less than 4 weeks to do ALL preparations. I need to:

  • Buy a car for no more than a couple of hundred pounds off eBay.To make this harder, I am only going to buy a car that doesn't work.
    Update: I've bought a Toyota Avensis with 140,000+ miles on the clock. It doesn't even start at least half the time; dodgy electrics.
  • Get the car transferred into my name.This means getting the V5 returned within the 4 weeks before I go, otherwise I'm not allowed to cross a number of the borders with it. Ever bought a second hand car? You'll know it can easily take more than 4 weeks for the DVLA to return these forms to you, then.
  • Send my passport off to 4 different embassies to get 4 different visas.And for some of them like Russia, I need to get invitations to the country arranged first. Russian visa processing time: 7 days. Uzbekisatan: 10 days. Kazakhstan: 10 days. Kyrgysztan: 3 days. That's 30 days. Plus the time the passports will be at the whim of Royal Mail. I only have 27 days to get them all and set off.
  • Drive the entire distance on my own. 5,000+ miles in under 3 weeks with no co-driver, map-reader, or anybody on-board to help if the car breaks down. And I really need to plan a route before I go. And book ferries. And flights back.
  • Use no proper camping gear.I am not even taking a tent. Instead, I can look forward to 20+ nights of sleeping in the car. The car that smells of rotting canine (they didn't mention that feature in the eBay listing).
  • Prepare everything I need to take for a budget of ~£100This has to cover tools, drink, spare parts, drink, food, drink, any extra clothes I need, etc.
  • Take no time off work to prepare the car, the route, anything.I'm allowing myself 2x Saturdays to get absolutely everything prepped that is needed. And at least one of those days is going to be spent putting stickers all over the car. So, 16 hours of total preparation for a 5,000+ mile trip across 15 countries.
  • Possibly most importantly, the car smells of dog. Wet dog. Big wet dog.This bothers me more than most things.

If this doesn't count as enough of a challenge, I give up; you can all sponsor me to go to diving in the Bahamas.
Update: I've decided to go to the Bahamas for a week when I get back anyway - I need a proper holiday after this!

The Car

A 1998 Toyota Avensis GS with 140,000 miles on the clock.

The issues I've found with it so far: The electrics completely die at random, cutting the engine and everything out. Broken sunroof, broken fan, broken rear windows, broken indicators, broken CD player, broken wing mirror, destroyed track rod ends, the exhaust is blowing, and it smells of dog.

Pre-Launch Updates

Live updates are shown to the top-right of this page. Previous updates from before I was tweeting my progress are below.

Have quickly put this page together and set up a Just Giving page. As much as I haven't even got time to do the travel essentials, the charity bits come first...

I am the proud owner of a V5 for the Chavensis. This actually worried me more than any of the visas or other preparation - there's no bribing the DVLA! So, biggest hurdle in the preparations sorted. And I've sent off for a Russian visa.

Kazakhstan visa arrived. Frantically trying to get my letter of invitation for Russia so I can send off for that visa.

Wrote a list up of everything I need to do in the next 3 weeks in preparation. The list contains 170 items. Gulp.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan visas applied for. Fingers crossed I filled in all the paperwork correctly at 3am.

Picked up the car. And it's broken. The electrics keep cutting out completely. Managed to get it home, though; I'll class that as a success.

I have agreed to enter the 2012 London - Tashkent Rally, or, rather the Bolton-Bishkek as I've renamed it. Less than 4 weeks to get everything ready, including buying a car...

Update: Less than 40 minutes after agreeing to do the rally, I've bought a car on eBay. Whilst in France. The first one that the auction was ending on and that only cost a couple of hundred pounds.

Live Twitter Updates

The Route

Sun 5th
UK - Nurburgring (600 miles)
Mon 6th
Nurburgring - Bratislava (600 miles)
Tue 7th
Bratislava - Sibiu (460 miles)
Wed 8th
Sibiu - Bucharest (200 miles)
Thu 9th
Bucharest - Odessa (360 miles)
Fri 10th
Rest day (0 miles)
Sat 11th
Odessa - Donets'k (430 miles)
Sun 12th
Donets'k - Volgograd (390 miles)
Mon 13th
Rest day (0 miles)
Tue 14th
Volgograd - Astrakhan (260 miles)
Wed 15th
Astrakhan - Atyrau (210 miles)
Thu 16th
(to Sat 18th) Atyrau - Nukus
Sun 19th
Rest day (0 miles)
Mon 20th
Nukus - Samarkand (490 miles)
Tue 21st
Samarkand - Tashkent (180 miles)
Wed 22nd
Tashkent - Bishkek (360 miles)
The car
1998 Toyota Chavensis
Before & After
Some Links