“Miracle Whipped”: Scorching the tar from Mumbai to Goa

Author: 
Sarika

Sarika Upadhyay is an MBA in Finance who works part-time for a multinational German company. She is a full-time mother and wife. She likes to live life on her own terms as she is not afraid to be herself and to take the road less traveled.

She loves to travel and is a fitness enthusiast. In her spare time, she’s also a blogger. Dancing gives her tremendous energy and joy. To fulfill her desire of love for nature and travel, she willingly organizes ‘excursions’ but with like-minded friends.

She likes to reach out to people in need of help and is willing to go out of her way to render assistance.

Times Women's Drive 2019 road map from Mumbai to Goa

Times Women's Drive 2019 road map from Mumbai to Goa.

Editor's Note: Sarika recently participated in the Times Women's Drive 2019, a motorsport that invites women from Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad to team up and drive all the way to Goa. In its 10th edition this year, the two-day rally was flagged off on 3rd May. Each team had to follow a detailed Rules Book to cover the segments of the course in a given amount of time at a given average speed, taking short breaks along the way but avoiding penalty points. The winners were crowned on 5th May at a gala awards ceremony in Goa.

What follows below is Sarika's experience.


It’s so difficult to get women out of their shell, their comfort zone, their commitments and responsibilities! Of the 100 or so whom I asked to join me in a long drive from Mumbai to Goa via Ganpati Phule, only 2 showed that confidence.

We named our team of three ’Miracle Whipped’, possibly for miraculously whipping us up, out of nowhere, for a whole new experience. And when we did dare to step out, it really boosted our confidence, our individuality and gave us a whole new world of learning experiences.

Our trio had to drive 650 kms one way to Goa along with the Times Rally; the return journey was on our own. With 121 cars from Mumbai alone, and total of 314 cars across states, from cities like Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, the ‘All-Woman-Drive’ had 2 to 3 participants in each car. Pretty daunting for the organisers, I must say, to have more than 940 women to manage and to handle their tantrums!

It was crazy preparing for it. We had mixed feelings of lot of enthusiasm from first timers, lots of questions and jitters, and super excitement of the adventurous road ahead.

Nervousness was near the top, accompanied by an intense zeal to be the winners in the very first attempt! The to-do list was long, starting from getting all the documents ready (one heck of a task), taking rally insurance for car and rally license for driver (toughest of the lot), a lot of shopping (the best part :P), making sure to look different and better from the rest (Like they say, woman don’t dress for men, they dress to make other woman jealous!), deciding what to wear on the awards night and so on... but foremost was understanding the calculations and the tulip chart and hats off to my team: Sheena Dinesh (pro in calculations, dedicated and hardworking lady) and Kanchan Pansare (a focused Tulip Chart Champ and an excellent partner).

 
Sample Tulip chart and Time-Speed-Distance calculations provided by the organisers of the Times Women's Drive 2019.

Sample Tulip chart and Time-Speed-Distance calculations provided by the organisers of the Times Women's Drive 2019.

 

Driving through the scenic countryside with rough, uneven and patchy roads all along the endless Western Ghats, our biggest challenge was maintaining the prescribed speed limits on such roads with focused calculations on serpentine hilly roads — a competitively comforting relief being that every team was facing the same challenge. However, some did cheat by getting high-end automatic cars where you can set the speed limit and other parameters as desired.

In addition, we had to make sure not to miss out on any turns on the Tulip chart and check points with times where one has to control one's bladder as there was no time to visit the loo.

Accurate calculations, mindful navigation and cautious yet alert driving all had to go hand in hand, and along with it, we kept fun and our adventurous spirit at it’s peak.

Our team drove tirelessly for nearly 10 hours on both the days. The organisers surely didn’t let the victory of 4.5 lac rupees be an easy affair!

Fun memories and highlights of the trip for us:

  • Car with Shagun - No. 101
  • We were probably the only group in Goa who carried milk bottles with us instead of chilled beer and wine!
  • Our Navigator (Kanchan Pansare) had a license but doesn’t know how to drive. A quality of our navigator being that she was big time confused about the directions i.e., Left/ Right! However, she was perfect with Tulip chart and we never went wrong in directions. She was vigilant enough to keep a track on my cars odometer and the Tulip chart turns always matched. Other than places where she said left (instead of right) and I had to stop the car looking if at all there is a left turn around, we did manage well!
  • Our Team Correspondent (Sheena Dinesh) has no clue about driving or navigation. Reaching Mumbai at 11 pm from Ahmedabad, just one day before the flag off of event, she learnt the speed calculations till 2 am that night and like a dedicated officer that she really is, religiously did all the calculations throughout the way and gave us accurate timing. Not only this, whenever we lost focus, she always got us back to the grind. With a stick in her hand, she was the one who kept us together and bound.
  • Briefing session was at Lalit, Mumbai, But it was a little disappointment as it started 1.5 hours late from its scheduled time. Based on its experience (and knowing that woman are never punctual) we assumed that the flag-off will also be late. We laid back at home enjoying hot homemade yummilicious Paneer and Brocolli parathas while miscalculating the message sent by the organisers. We left assuming that we will still reach early but we were super late. Luckily flag-off was just 5 mins away from home and we reached just on our scheduled time.
     
    Cars lining up for flag-off at Mumbai for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

    Cars lining up for flag-off at Mumbai for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

     
     
    Cars at the flag-off at Pune for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

    Cars at the flag-off at Pune for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

     
  • Crossing a bridge over a stream in the Western Ghats.

    Crossing a bridge over a stream in the Western Ghats.

    We started well and reached the first Time Control (TC) on time. However, we missed the second one. That gave us straight penalty of 30 minutes. (We later realised that winners have a max penalty of 12/13mins. so, a bad sportsmanship tip is, if you miss a TC, reach Goa by the main road (better highways) and start having fun sooner rather than following the rally route.😜)

  • A jeep went off road on a single thin road. All the vehicles after that stopped and waited for the car to get back on road. To all those women who missed their prizes, you deserve a special award for showing humanity and real woman power!
  • Our AC compressor couldn’t take the load for a nonstop journey and probably the hill road, we got some smell at 250kms and had to continue the rally without AC! At 320 kms we reached Ganpati Phule, Ratnagiri and was told by local mechanic that it will have to be changed and that if we continue using AC in this condition, the car will get jammed.
  • We decided to continue the rally without AC on day 2 as we still thought we had chances to win. And that’s the funny part because we already had 1 hr 30 mins of penalties. This weather is possibly the best time for the car air conditioner to go bad.🙄
  • We remained as per schedule on Day 2 except the last leg which was a free zone (no time constraints) we took our lunch break around 3 pm for good 50 mins as we had 2.5 hours to cover remaining 90 kms.
     
    Taking a break mid-way during the Times Women's Drive 2019. (From left to right) Sheena, Kanchan and Sarika.

    Taking a break mid-way during the Times Women's Drive 2019. (From left to right) Sheena, Kanchan and Sarika.

     
  • Now when we start with our stomachs full, Google tells us that the final leg will take 2.5 hours to reach coz of heavy traffic in Goa and then starts the fun part as we had to reach on time. All the juggling, speeding, driving tactics came to use now! We overtook each and every Rally car which came our way (And that gave us our much needed “Kick” from the event), we left behind each car we met on the way.. except a Polo (Same as mine) which overtook us.. and now the challenge wasn’t reaching the final destination on time (as we were already late) the challenge was defeating the other car! We addressed it as “Didi” as the cars were from same family (Volkswagen Polo) with a lady driver (Car 84 Belonging to “Rupal Vyas”).. that was the only car which was giving us a tough fight! That was the fun part of driving when we both kept overtaking each other in heavy traffic of Goa City! We used all possible tactics and raced like there is no tomorrow (Warning: This is not for those who love their life. 😊) In the last 5 mins we took the correct left turn and won the game. They reached 5 mins after us!
  • We didn’t win the Rally but this final stretch gave us the feel of victory that too in terrible conditions of driving without an air conditioner in broad daylight with heavy traffic. Add bad road conditions throughout the 2 days of rally!
     
    End of the Times Women's Drive 2019 at Goa.

    End of the Times Women's Drive 2019 at Goa.

     
 
Prize distribution at Holiday Inn, Goa on the night of May 5th for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

Prize distribution at Holiday Inn, Goa on the night of May 5th for the Times Women's Drive 2019.

 
 
Team 'Miracle Whipped' in a celebratory mood with medals.

Team 'Miracle Whipped' in a celebratory mood with medals.

 

Our stay at Ganpati Phule was at Nakshatra Beach Resort by O’nest. It was a superb resort located at a little hill rise and facing the sea. We reached just in time for a mesmerising sunset view from our room.

We stayed at Radisson Blu resort at Goa and it surely was a treat after a long 2-day journey. With a lavish buffet for dinner and breakfast, we surely made the most out of it.

We pampered ourselves in the most well deserving way the next day with breakfast and lunch at Radisson Blu, spa experience at Taj Exotica and dinner at Holiday Inn. And a lot of fun time at the beach and pool.

 
A view from our hotel room at Radisson Blu, Goa.

A view from our hotel room at Radisson Blu, Goa.

 
Sunset at Goa

Sunset at Goa

Some handy tips for those who sometime wish to take part in the Times Women’s Drive next year:

  • Documentation part is very lengthy and specially the rally insurance which has to be taken separately is a big headache. So better to prepare well in time.
  • The women participating are full-on enthu about car decoration and this rally is the only place where you find women willingly wearing the same clothes - same colour.
  • Follow the Tulip charts blindly (first time experience for us). They are easy to understand and interpret and must be used as a Bible.
  • You need one person all the time doing calculations of the Time, Speed and Distance formula.
  • The roles of all three participants are equally important: the Driver to maintain speed and avoid mishaps; the Navigator to keep a track on time and keep navigating the route; and the Team Correspondent to do the calculations. One mistake and you are out of the game!

It was a good experience over all. I don’t know if we will participate again, but the zeal and enthusiasm of over a thousand women coming together from various cities was completely incomparable. So many stories, so much of confidence put together, so much to learn from each one of them. But there, we all came together, let our hair loose and danced our heart out to celebrate womanhood.

Comments

Great adventure shows your spirit to enjoy life. Do remain fit and enjoy life to its fullest zeal with more great adventures with family,friends and solo.

More often than not, it’s about the journey than the destination. The exhilaration you feel during the race is more important than any medal. Salute to your adventurous spirit. And beautiful write-up as usual.

Keep on driving!

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