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'Intense adventure': Calgary couple completes 4,400-km rickshaw run across India

Matt Daw, Heather Wicksted and their American travel companion Max Kent recently completed their trek across India in their three-wheeled rickshaw vehicle. (Supplied) Matt Daw, Heather Wicksted and their American travel companion Max Kent recently completed their trek across India in their three-wheeled rickshaw vehicle. (Supplied)
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A Calgary couple has officially completed a 4,400-kilometre journey on a three-wheeled rickshaw across India, battling congested cities, water-logged streets and uneven roads in an effort to raise funds for local youth bicycle programs.

Heather Wicksted and Matthew Daw are travel junkies known for getting out of their comfort zones and raising awareness about causes they care about through their online blog, Reason2Roam.

The pair’s latest adventure saw them participate in Rickshaw Run India from April 6 to 20, setting off in a small-gas powered rickshaw from Shillong in the country’s north all the way down south to Fort Kochi.

Funds were raised along the way for Two Wheel View, a non-profit that operates bicycle programs for Calgary youth.

Daw said having access to bicycles is a cause that’s near and dear to the couple’s heart. He added that this journey on three wheels came with no shortage of challenges.

“India is a very intense place and that intensity comes at you from every point on the compass, so even when you're driving down a highway, you never know if a vehicle might be coming the other direction,” he said.

“There may be goats on the road, there are cows on the road. There are always people on the roads, and then your rickshaw runs low on gas and you might need to find fuel or the entire country might be under construction at the same time on this incredible road system that's hard to drive on.”

Wicksted said that the people that helped them along the way are what truly made their trip memorable.

“So we got stopped a lot of times by police, and initially it's a little bit nerve wracking to be pulled over when you've done nothing wrong, but nine times out of 10 that turned into a cup of chai and a selfie with random police officers on the side of the road,” she laughed.

“So again, it just reinforced what an amazing incredible country that India is.”

Wicksted and Daw had a third traveller with them as well, Max Kent, a Canadian they had met prior during a bicycle trip along the Great Divide in the United States.

“My favourite thing was that everyone thought Max was our son,” said Daw.

“And as a result, everyone stopped us for a selfie. We had people in big trucks pulling over, veering us off to the edge and waving us to pull over in the middle of nowhere so they could get a photo. It was one of the major highlights of the last couple weeks."

The Rickshaw Run India featured 70 teams with about 168 people competing along the way to race across the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone finished, some vehicles broke down and some competitors suffered minor injuries.

“I thought it was gonna be a walk in the park,” Wicksted said.

“But finishing this race is something I'm very proud that all three of us accomplished together, we had so much fun and met a lot of wonderful people along the way."

(Supplied)

Wicksted and Daw will now travel to Azerbaijan for a cycling trip along the Pamir Highway where they hope to raise more funds for Two Wheel View.

For more information on how to support fundraising efforts, you can visit their website at reason2roam.com.

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