Training Trip No. 1 - What we learned.

24 February 2017

Welcome to edition number 3 of the Mission Mongolia blog series, the fact that I am writing to you today means that we survived our first training trip around Europe last weekend! First of all I would like to formally apologise to you all for taking so long to update you on how the trip went, but my body has been in a state of temporary shut down since our return. One of the main things we learnt from this training trip is that this will not be a holiday, I think every member of the crew was amazed at just how tiring doing that amount of driving actually is! But it was a massive confidence boost for everyone to learn that we are capable of long driving stints, and also to know that the vehicle can handle the abuse!

The Trip:

Fully stocked up on Redbull and biscuits, the crew set off for Dover at 4am on Friday morning knowing that we had the just the weekend to reach our intended checkpoints sprawled at various points throughout mainland Europe.

Fairly early on we realised that sleeping in a moving vehicle would be a lot more difficult than we originally anticipated. One of the modifications that has been made was to refit the vehicle with suspension suited to carrying heavy payloads- perfect for us as we will be carrying a lot of spare gear. What we didn’t realise is just how hard this suspension made the ride, anyone sleeping (or trying) at the back of the van will experience quite the ride, especially if we encounter a particularly bumpy section of tarmac. 

Specific highlights of the weekend included accidently driving with the handbrake on and almost gassing the sleeping crew, a Czech petrol station failing to mention they don’t accept payment by card until after we filled up the tank (with no ATMs nearby and no spare Czech Koruna in the cab!) and of course running out of water-free Diesel 40 miles from home on the M20!

Even so, there is no feeling like a minibus of friends tackling the open road! There is something that is quite unique about sitting down to dinner in Vienna and then breakfast in Luxembourg, brushing your teeth when you are travelling 60mph on an empty AutoRoute and carefully driving a sleeping crew through the snowy Alps in the middle of the night!

Final mileage of our European adventure totalled 2597 and the crew drove almost non-stop for over 60 hours. We managed to squeeze in extra checkpoints at Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna in Austria, so overall we are very pleased that our timings and route planning were almost spot on; with us running ahead of schedule instead of behind schedule. Everyone of the crew proved their worth navigating using only a map and we are pleased to say that the GPS was only used once to get the team out of the centre of Prague. Most importantly, the crew worked perfectly together to overcome all issues and we are extremely happy with the team dynamic!

In other news Avtrader Marco Pozzato will be running the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday the 27th of April with all funds going to the charities supported by the Mission Mongolia project. We are told he is expecting to post a very respectable time of sub 1 hour and 30 minutes. For anyone who wants to come down and support him, a crowd will be meeting in Brighton to cheer him on. There is still time to support him by visiting his Justgiving page here:

Mission Mongolia