A trip like no other: Florian Brückner, Marcel Brendel and Adrian Winheim covered 4240 kilometres on a rickshaw in India.

Across India on Three Wheels

That was the motto for an adventure that two colleagues from Koenig & Bauer recently undertook together with a friend of theirs to raise money for a good cause. Florian Brückner and Adrian Winheim – one an assembly technician, the other a quality assurance specialist – invested a good portion of their annual vacation in the trip of a lifetime in January this year. Under the team name ‘Indergalactic’, they completed a journey of 4,240 kilometres across India in their brightly painted rickshaw ‘Flotter Otto’ (literally ‘Speedy Otto’).

People & Professions
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The primary objective of what is called the Rickshaw Run – devised by fund-raising travel organisers The Adventurists – is to promote protection of the world’s rainforests, while at the same time offering a unique adventure in the company of friends. When you set out to travel across a far-off country in one of the most basic means of transportation imaginable, hardship and setbacks are more or less pre-programmed. Along with all the personal gain from new experiences – not to mention the bumps and bruises picked up along the way – each of the 69 teams also gives something back to the environment by making a donation of 500 euros to the Cool Earth Organisation as a contribution to rainforest protection projects. 

In addition, our three adventurers decided to raise money for a regional cause: the parents’ initiative ‘Regenbogen’ (Rainbow) provides support to the families of children suffering from leukaemia and tumours in Würzburg and the surrounding area. Donations are used, among other things, to maintain the family-oriented decoration of the university hospital clinics known as ‘Rainbow’, ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Lighthouse’, to gift the young patients a few hours of happiness with music and hospital clowns, and to provide psychosocial support for the whole family during and after therapy. When it comes to such a fantastic project, Koenig & Bauer is also delighted to contribute – and supported Team Indergalactic with a corresponding donation. In the end, over 300 donations were pledged, adding up to a proud total of 16,230 euros.

But now back to the actual story: the road trip through the land where the cow is sacred

The adventure began for Florian, Adrian and Marcel on 29 December 2023. In Kochi, the starting point for the trip, they met up with the other teams and took a seat in their rickshaw for the first time. They also learned a few technical tricks as an introduction to the vehicle which was to be their companion for the next 15 days – so as to be prepared when (and not simply in case) they found themselves stranded at the roadside.

The start signal was given on 1 January 2024 – the 170 participants revved up their engines and set off on the more than 4,000 kilometre journey to Shillong. The teams were allowed to choose their own route, and the speed at which they travelled was also left to the rickshaw drivers themselves. The only requirement was that they arrive in time for the farewell event at the finishing line on 16 January. Team Indergalactic had plenty of experiences over the 15 days that their trip took: they visited the ruined city of Hampi, explored the holy city of Varanasi and experienced its rituals, and took a detour into the world’s highest mountain range – the Himalayas. They joined a safari in an elephant reserve and were welcomed joyfully by the locals when they accidentally gatecrashed an Indian wedding.

But the journey also presented a few difficulties: when the team attempted to cross through a tiger reserve, they were stopped by the local authorities. That didn’t, however, hold Team Indergalactic back. With a concerted effort and the help of a few locals, they heaved the rickshaw onto the back of a small lorry, which then brought them to their next destination. The stark temperature differences in the inland regions brought layering back into fashion when the group realised that they had packed their luggage with somewhat warmer Indian climes in mind. The constant exhaust fumes, poor air quality and rough roads also meant that this road trip was definitely not a comfortable one. But the team successfully mastered all the challenges and reached the finish line with just one breakdown along the way – a torn clutch cable that they were quickly able to replace. And so the three friends were able to enjoy the parade at the finish and the celebration that followed in the evening! The concluding beach holiday in Goa was a well-earned reward.

Back in Germany, they could hardly believe their luck. The diligent social media efforts had paid off. Numerous regional media outlets had caught wind of their trip and could hardly wait to interview them on their return. The total donations also surpassed one target after another, as more and more people became aware of the good cause being supported. “When I was out shopping yesterday, I was suddenly greeted by someone who had seen us on television,” says Adrian with a smile. 

The journey undertaken by Florian, Adrian and Marcel goes to prove once more: rewards abound for those who embrace the spirit of adventure and pursue worthy goals. For more impressions from the journey, you can check out the group’s Instagram account.