Harrogate YouTube star survives bandits on Rickshaw Run

Across India - Cory McLeod's trusty Tuk Tuk.

Across India - Cory McLeod's trusty Tuk Tuk.

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If you ever wondered what happened to the young Harrogate man who became a YouTube sensation after his dad compiled a video made up of one photo from every day of his life, then wonder no more.

Cory McLeod is currently on a Tuk Tuk riding 3,500km across India for charity as part of The Rickshaw Run.

Harrogate charity adventurer Cory McLeod with villagers in India.

Harrogate charity adventurer Cory McLeod with villagers in India.

Already, he’s had to combat the front wheel coming off on the first day whilst driving out of Shillong in north-east India.

And there’s been the matter of a confrontation with bandits in Bihar.

Now aged nearly 24, the famous six-and-a-half minute video, 21 Years, brought Cory international fame and requests for interviews on TV shows across the globe after it went viral in 2012.

Despite attracting 6,382,595 views, Cory’s life has returned to normal since then, depending on whether readers consider travelling 3,500km across India on an unreliable three-wheel moped with a cousin and a friend ‘normal’ behaviour.

Fundraising for Cool Earth, a charity dedicated to saving millions of acres of endangered rainforests, isn’t exactly proving to be easy.

But Cory’s spirit remains unbroken. Emailing the Harrogate Advertiser from somewhere in India he said: “We set off in the monsoon season, with no route, no back-up plan and no knowledge of the India or the Indian language.

“So far we’ve suffered from sleep deprivation, ‘Delhi belly’, regular mechanical breakdowns and occasional heatstroke.

“This is the first trip where I’ve really wished I’d done more preparation! But it’s all in a great cause and we’ve visited a few orphanges on the way. The scenery and wildlife is incredible, too.”

Travelling with cousin Daniel Jimenez and friend Sam Hodson - plus a few ‘instant best friends’ they didn’t know previously - the idea was hatched while Cory, originally from Starbeck, was working abroad.

He said: “I always had it in mind to be one of my future ventures abroad. Then earlier this year, whilst working in Dubai, my Spanish flat mate mentioned the same idea, so over a drink it was decided we were doing it, along with my friend Sam, my cousin Dan and my flat mate’s brother. But I made it very difficult for myself by arriving back in the UK only a few weeks before I was due to leave.”

With a top speed of 60mph, the Tuk Tuk may not sound fast but it’s the vehicle of choice in much of the sub-continent.

Although for charity, The Rickshaw Run is also a race which means Cory’s team are competing against other teams of Tuk-Tuk enthusiasts to be the first to arrive at their final destination of Cochin in south India.

It hasn’t helped their chances that the intrepid trio were confronted by bandits in the first week of their journey.

Cory said: “It’s been our scariest moment so far. Because of problems with our Tuk Tuk, we pulled over at a mechanics in a remote village in Bihar. Within seconds we were surrounded by a few hundred intimidating locals.

“It was already getting dark so myself and Sam and myself decided to get the three girls out of there straightaway, heading for the nearest town on our two working Rickshaws, whilst the other four guys stayed till everything was fixed.

“Just to add to my nerves, the front lights failed so we had to drive for two hours on the highway with the girls shining IPhone torch lights on the ground to see where we were going.

“Later on we received a text saying everyone else had got away unscathed once the vehicle was fixed, despite local gang members threatening to stab them at one point!”

Cory’s team in The Rickshaw Run is called SuperDannyGoesBallisticTukTuksAreAtrocious

Follow updates on Cory on Instagram at @corymcleod77

Sponsor him at JustGiving website