The Mission

The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Last Day

One of the things that makes PtoP so exciting is the extreme efforts crews take to stay in the race. There are cars with new suspensions, new radiators, new windscreens and even new crew members but all still pressing forward to Paris. It takes courage to keep going despite the fact that the car is broken and held together with gaffer tape.

But it also takes courage (perhaps more courage) to know when to call a halt, to acknowledge that going on doesn't make sense and that despite all the planning, effort, attention to detail, money and sheer graft on the route the race is over for this car and this crew.

And that's what's happened to Rhubarb and Custard. It's proved impossible to rebuild the carburettors and make them serviceable. As a result it would be a struggle to drive back to the hotel never mind catch the rally 2000 km away. It seems absurd that a car which has otherwise nothing wrong with it, has been brought low by an invisible problem when the rally car park is full of crippled cars that nonetheless are able to keep going.

However it would be folly to attempt to catch the rally under our own steam and not much better to have the car trucked along the route - what can't be fixed in a workshop can't be repaired in the field and we would at best be limping along and require constant attention and it's more likely that the car would simply die.

So, like Napoleon and Hitler before us, we've been beaten by Russia, almost exactly half way through the rally. We have the offer to rejoin in a different car at a later point but at least tonight I don't find that appealing. The point was to take Rhubarb and Custard the whole way and that can't be.

We've had some wonderful messages of sympathy from friends, family and other crews for which we are grateful. Even the staff at the hotel gave us their support and I confess that I had a tearful moment when I was writing thank you notes to the sweeps, medics, organiser's and marshals.

We've had a great time and it seems that at least this time it wasn't meant to be. Don't give up on the blog though. There will be time for further reflection and comment before we close the book.


  1. Hello! Every day I read your blog, and worried about your crew. It is a pity that the car broke down so seriously. I support you with all my heart. Tatiana Sinko.

  2. Sigh...sorry to hear that. Tough desicion. 3 days in the visa is a bit short, 2 more days and I wouldn't hesitate to continue the repair and trying to catch up. Lesson learned and put in my blackbook, never accept a refurbished tank.

  3. Choked on the words as I read "Last Day" to Paul's dad.
    A decision that would make a wife happy and relieved.
    But can we still have Explorer Beard Day 25 please?

  4. Adam Shutkever4 July 2016 at 06:41

    Bad luck old boy- time to get that beard shaved off ?

  5. Sorry to hear that your valiant effort has fallen short of the final goal, but a tremendous effort and well done for carrying on for so long in the face of such frustrations. Having had a few myself I can attest that there is nothing more exasperating than a car which keeps conking out, let alone doing it thousands of miles from your destination.

    I'd like to say that you will be returning to a happier more functioning place, but I'm afraid, in your absence, Blighty has also suffered a catastrophic breakdown which will take rather more than a new carburettor to fix.

    See you soon