Crossing the Rubikhan

The Mongol Rally



The Mongol Rally is a 10,000-mile transcontinental excursion from Goodwood, UK to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. While the event is not actually a race – in fact, the first teams to roll into Ulaanbaatar are often scolded for their haste – the rally is by no means a walk in the desert (err, park). Our route will take us across some of the harshest terrain on the planet, and we’ll have no support (mechanical, logistical, or legal) along the way. To top it all off, we intend to complete the rally in a vehicle utterly unsuited for carrying three fully grown males, all of their equipment, and a bunch of spare parts over some of the highest mountain passes and driest deserts in the world. Some might label us reckless (or just downright idiotic), but we’re not participating in the Mongol Rally solely to satiate our collective wanderlust,
or to break in a new vehicle, or to test our friendships, or to visit relatives in the sleepy Kazakh idyll of Taldykorgan. (Spoiler alert: we have no relatives in Taldykorgan.) See, we’re also raising money for the Cool Earth Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages, two important charities that are working tirelessly, and often thanklessly, to make the world a better place. Our team goal is to raise at least $3,000 for charity – double the amount required to participate in the rally. So, by supporting us on the rally, you’re really supporting these causes too! In return, we’ll keep you up to date with blog posts, pictures, and video. Follow us as we bargain for goods in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, starve on a 3-day ferry ride across the Caspian Sea, bribe the guards at the Kazakhstan border, and sleep under the stars in the Gobi Desert.




The Route

Our route will take us across western Europe and down through the Balkans, over the Anatolian plateau and into the Caucasus, across the Caspian Sea, through the deserts and mountain passes of Central Asia, and finally over the barren Mongolian steppe, before ending in Ulaanbaatar. Check out the map below for more details, or click here to launch our interactive route map!


The Causes


Cool Earth Foundation

Each minute, nearly 150 acres of rainforest are destroyed, releasing nearly 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the environment – the equivalent of 4,800 laps around the planet. The Cool Earth Foundation, the official charity of the 2014 Mongol Rally, is committed to halting the destruction of these ecosystems. In five years alone, Cool Earth has saved over 330,000 acres of forest, and has shielded millions more from destruction.
To put things into perspective, it costs just £60 to protect an acre of rainforest. By donating to Crossing the Rubikhans, you are contributing directly to Cool Earth’s efforts to make the planet a healthier place – and that’s something you should feel good about.


SOS Children's Villages

SOS Children’s Villages is the official team charity of Crossing the Rubikhan. This international non-profit provides family-based care to children who have been abandoned, orphaned, or displaced by conflict. By placing children into the nurturing care of foster families, SOS ensures that these children receive the individualized support that they require in order to thrive.
The foster families are clustered into small villages, and we have been invited to visit several of these communities along our journey. We will gladly pass on any gifts or messages you might have for the children, and together, we can ensure that they receive the support that they deserve.


The Team

Team Crossing the Rubikhan is comprised of four three young friends who met during their first year of undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College. Although their academic backgrounds run the gamut from literary theory to international diplomacy, these strapping young lads do share several things in common: a thirst for adventure, a desire to impact the world in a positive manner, and an utter lack of mechanical knowledge.

*Addendum: sadly, Keshav can no longer participate in the Mongol Rally, due to an incredible job opportunity in India with the MIT Poverty Action Lab. You can read our eulogy for Shav right here. We’ll miss ya bud, but we know you’re off to do big things!



As the team's unofficial fitness guru, Nicholas “Nick Lachey” Allen’s skills include pushing, pulling, and lifting heavy objects, including, we hope, small vehicles and Keshav. However, we are still unsure if Nick’s natural aptitude with BMI-measuring calipers will translate to real tools. A recent ethnomusicology course has Nick questioning whether he truly belongs in this image-obsessed American society, or whether he should swap real estate and the elliptical for pastoralism and buzkashi, a Central Asian variant of polo played with a headless goat carcass instead of a ball. Or maybe he'll just corner the local creatine market. It would be uncharacteristic for Nick to pass up such a lucrative scheme.



    Benjie “Benjie” Jenkins grew up on Baltimore’s only Nairobi-themed game reserve. An ardent Francophile, Benjie’s Napoleon complex is manifested in a desire to expose the people of Central Asia to the wonders of merlot and existentialism. He's exceptionally eager to give readings of “Le Mythe de Sisyphe” – in the original French, of course – to the kids at the SOS Children's Village in Urgench. However, don’t let Benjie's blonde locks and big words fool you: he's fit to bribe and grovel with the best of them. He also knows a thing or two about vehicle repairs, with extensive mechanical knowledge gained solely from a well-thumbed copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”



      Cooper “Gall-Peters Projection” Thomas grew up in Portland, Oregon, where his neighbors were an independent bookstore owner, a professional drum circler, a patchouli patch, and an urban goat farm. Ever the softie, Cooper finds himself most at peace when he's pursuing his passions for obscure indigenous music and arboreal photography. The rally will give Cooper a chance to accomplish his greatest life goal: a pilgrimage to Kyzyl, the legendary Southern Siberian enclave of the Tuvan throat singers. Our greatest fear is that Cooper, overcome by the unprecedented kinship and mutual understanding he finds with Tuvan tribal leaders, will abandon any desire to return home.

        Keshav (Teammate Emeritus)

        Keshav (Teammate Emeritus)

        Keshav “Machiavelli” Poddar is a man whose stature is dwarfed by his ambition and his fashion sense. In his native village he has become something of a pariah for embracing the consumption of meat, just one of the ways he exploits other creatures in a constant quest for domination. Yet, Keshav's quick wit, analytical mind, and superior understanding of society mean that putting him in power will probably benefit all of us in the end, much as we hate to admit it. During the rally, Shav would have served the double role of hunter and hood ornament, wielding a crossbow from his precarious perch on the front of the car, watching for passing rabbits and yaks to eat for dinner.


          The Car

          This is the car that we plan to drive to Mongolia. Seriously. She’s a 2004 Suzuki Alto, and she boasts a 1.06-liter engine and about six inches of legroom. You can read more about her in our blog post.

          Thank you!

          Without the support of these awesome sponsors and individuals, we would not be able to participate in the Mongol Rally. Here’s to you!




          Goal Zero designs high-quality portable solar power equipment, including lightweight solar panels, power packs, and inverters. The company’s critically acclaimed products enable off-the-grid adventurers (such as ourselves) to power mission-critical electronics—think satellite internet routers, cameras, laptops, communications equipment, and the like—wherever the sun shines. Goal Zero’s products are compact, affordable, easy to use, and sustainable—in other words, they’re perfect for our 10,000-mile journey.

          Not only is Goal Zero committed to bringing sustainable technologies to the market, but the company also contributes generously to humanitarian causes. Goal Zero supported relief efforts for the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami in 2011, for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and for Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Founder Robert Workman also happens to run a non-profit organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are proud to fly the colors of such a compassionate and conscientious company. And in keeping with the charitable mission of the rally, we intend to donate all of our Goal Zero equipment to charity once we reach the finish line.

          You can learn more about the company and its products by visiting the Goal Zero website.


          Unsurprisingly, it is nigh impossible to locate a serviceable internet connection in the middle of the Karakum Desert. (Or, for that matter, in the Kyzyl Kum Desert, the Gobi Desert, or the Caspian Sea.) Fortunately, the kind folks at Roadpost, a satellite communications company that’s been around longer than we have, just hooked us up with a satellite internet terminal. This handy handheld device should allow us to connect to the internet from virtually any location on the planet, barring dungeons and the bottom of the sea. Of course, the connection isn’t blazingly fast – lest we forget, the device must connect to a network of 66 satellites zipping around the planet at 6,876 MPH – but then again, we don’t intend to use the router for online shopping, or for Skyping with our girlfriends. (RIGHT, NICK?)

          The folks at Roadpost have also been tremendously helpful, and patient, throughout the setup and configuration processes. (Special shoutout to Lu, who tolerated our bad jokes while we rummaged around for some necessary documentation.) Thanks to Roadpost’s generous support, we’ll be able to keep you up to speed on our progress, no matter how far off the beaten tracks our misguided sense of direction route may lead us.



          Vision Sign has generously agreed to help us print our car decals. Headquartered in Sterling, Virginia, the company has been designing, producing, and applying custom car wraps and graphics for over 20 years. Suffice to say, their work is top-notch, and their prices are very reasonable as well. Whether you’re seeking custom car lettering for your souped up Suzuki (sound familiar?), or shiny racing strips, or tinted windows, or flames, or all of the above, chances are, Vision Sign has you covered. Plus, the folks at Vision Sign are incredibly pleasant to deal with. Jason, in particular, has been incredibly helpful and supportive of our mission. Thanks, guys, for helping to make our little Suzuki a little more rally-worthy…on the outside, at least!



          Cool Moon Ice Cream Co., located in Portland’s über-hip Pearl District, is known throughout the Pacific Northwest for its high-quality local ingredients, fantastic selection of flavors (from innovative concoctions like Fig and Goat Cheese to classics like Mint Chip and Oregon Strawberry), welcoming ambience, and exceptionally good-looking staff. Incidentally, Cooper spent two summers working at Cool Moon, and he’s proud to declare the company an official sponsor of Team Crossing the Rubikhan. After narrowly avoiding such occupational hazards as “scooper’s claw” (read: carpal tunnel), a physical dependence on Butter Almond Brickle ice cream, and the occasional gluten-related lawsuit (just kidding!), Cooper has a profound appreciation for the folks working behind the counter. And he is excited to spread the Gospel of Delicious Frozen Desserts to the farthest reaches of Eurasia.



          Canvas Host is a progressive web hosting company headquartered in Cooper’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. Unlike many of its competitors, Canvas Host is committed to sustainable business practices: it is the first web hosting company in the Pacific Northwest to use 100% wind energy to power its operations. Plus, the folks over at Canvas Host are generally awesome people to work with. We’re delighted to have them onboard as a primary team sponsor.


          Big Frog, a custom apparel company with brick-and-mortar storefronts located across the country (including one in Portland!), is another primary team sponsor. Big Frog boasts excellent service, quick turnaround times, and unparalleled order flexibility; in fact, as we discovered, you can even bring in your own clothes for printing! On that note, stay tuned for the official, limited edition Crossing the Rubikhan onesie.


          We owe the tech wizards over at TeoThemes a hearty thank you for helping us build this beautiful website. Pretty nice, right? We won’t even try to take credit for its slick design.




          Special shout-outs to the following people, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us on our journey:


          ·Mike Malachowsky: this talented visual artist designed our team logo. He draws lots of other cool stuff too. Much love homie!

          ·Samantha Oh: Sam took our team photos. A fearless photographer, Sam prefers to shoot lions, great white sharks, and other ferocious creatures. So, we’re incredibly grateful that she was willing to photograph such docile creatures as ourselves.

          ·Our families: your support really means the world to us. We’ll do our very best to send you updates from the road, and to return to the States with all of our organs in place.

          ·Donors: thank you, thank you, thank you! Words truly cannot express our gratitude.

          • Cathy Allegra
          • Bill Allen
          • Karen Allen
          • Kent Allen
          • Neal Allen
          • Armar Archbold
          • Katharine Baetjer
          • Walter Baetjer
          • Millicent Bain
          • Sue Batler
          • Tim Batler
          • Jane Beebe
          • Julie Beeler
          • Scott Brandstetter
          • Dean Brenner
          • Jeff Brownwood
          • Sara Brownwood
          • Diane Brush
          • Tony Brush
          • Walton Brush
          • Linda Cangiano
          • Lena Carleton
          • Tom Chokel
          • Deepak Chowdhury
          • Nancy Church
          • Laura Cooper
          • Margo Cooper
          • Pattie Dillon
          • Peter Dillon
          • Theo Downes-LeGuin


          • Holly Dunn
          • Jonathan Farber
          • Margaret Fenwick
          • Wesley Finnerty
          • Robert Flint
          • Deborah Garretson
          • Stephen Gomez
          • Neal Goren
          • Tom Grey
          • Carol Guensburg
          • Jody Guth
          • Joe Guth
          • Karen Guth
          • Colin Hanrahan
          • Dixon Harvey
          • Lindsay Haut
          • Wes Harris
          • Renata Hackley
          • Chip Hill
          • Nancy Hill
          • John Hornady
          • Katharine Baetjer Hornady
          • Barbara Horneffer
          • Ned Horneffer
          • Sharon Ivey
          • Annie Jenkins
          • Henry Jenkins
          • Courtenay Jenkins
          • Brad Johnson
          • Richard Kadin


          • A. Alberto Kelso
          • Tyler Kolle
          • Carol Ladd
          • Ellen Lehman
          • Annie Lionni
          • Trisha Luing
          • Lisa Luo
          • Elizabeth Lummus
          • James Mahoney
          • Jerry Marcyk
          • Michelle Marcyk
          • David Markowitz
          • Kelly Markowitz
          • Cecily Matthai
          • Lawrence McQueen
          • Julia Miller
          • Eugenia Moore
          • Dorrit Morley
          • Pam Nissley
          • Sally O’Brien
          • Peggy O’Shea
          • Michael Parets
          • Ajay Poddar
          • Ranjini Poddar
          • Jim Poggi
          • Nancy Rome
          • John Russell
          • Tracy Russell
          • Sarah Santa Maria
          • Patty Scheid


          • Riley Scheid
          • Russ Scheid
          • Sean Schultz
          • Felicia Schwartz
          • Robin Shaffert
          • Alan Shikani
          • Caryl Siems
          • Robert Siems
          • Eva Solarik
          • Viktor Solarik
          • Peter Steinberg
          • Deva Rajan
          • David Tanner
          • James Tanner
          • Nicki Tanner
          • Harold Tanner
          • Peggy Tanner
          • Charlotte Tarantino
          • Paul Tarantino
          • Christina de Tessan
          • Anna Thomas
          • Fiona Thomas
          • Jeffrey Thomas
          • Leslie Thomas
          • Michael M. Thomas
          • Molly Thornton
          • Betsy Woodruff
          • John Wright
          • Maggie Wright



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