Ride to Gaganbavda, Kolhapur

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,

The riders:
Apoorva, Kapil, Naijo and Deepak

The place:
Gaganbavda, Kolhapur

Gaganbavda- a cool place perched somewhere in midst of the beautiful Sahyadris, the thrilling serpentine roads leading to the destination, the joy of riding through the breathtaking scenery of the Konkan region- similar to the refreshing fragrance of a fresh cup of morning tea, though still cool as a shade of a tree under the hot baking sun. If words leave something to be desired, the images of the place fill it up. The ride through Ratnagiri was simply out of this world. How rightly is it said “Swapn nisargaache sundar, hirvi dharti, taambdi maati”- it’s a phrase I came across while riding back. That’s Konkan for you.

I didn’t need any reason to cancel plans for Ganpatipule and head straight to the peak called Gaganbavda. Grateful to Kapil, for his immediate affirmation, meaning that I wouldn’t be riding alone, to Apoorva - who turned out at the last minute and was the centre of all the fun and jokes on the journey and at the destination, and finally to Naijo-aka-Purushottam, who had plenty of related experiences to narrate all along the way.

Our route concluding a distance of 990 kms both ways:

Mumbai- Panvel- Wadkhal- Poladpur- Khed- Chiplun- Sangameshwar- Ratnagiri- Lanja- Rajapur- Vaibhavwadi- Bhuibavda Ghat- Gaganbavda.

Return from Gaganbavda via Karul Ghat to Talera heading to Rajapur again towards Mumbai.

The ride was good enough for an experience- all the delays in the world arising out of a flat front tyre in midst of nowhere- locating a puncture shop to find the repair guy absconding. Carry the tyre some 10 kms away for repairs only to come back again to fix the wobbly mount on the rims. Apoorva heading and losing himself in some different direction. The waiter at the restaurant almost starving us to death by delaying lunch as much as possible. Riding through some unknown winding roads in total darkness with lights on our bikes and stars as the only visible objects on earth at that point of time. A ride encircling an ascend in a happy mood, later becoming a scary memory knowing the route we passed through was one of the deadliest ghat sections standing- that’s Bhuibavda Ghat connecting Vaibhavwadi to Gaganbavda. Narrow enough for not more than a truck to drive, meager boulders along the way with ample rock falling signs and at an altitude and vertical drops enough to scare the guts out of you if you happen to ride during the day- we were sure that we couldn’t do that stretch in daylight, darkness helped us accomplish the feat- the scary identity of the section hidden under the blanket of the night.

Gaganbavda was chilly as would any other place at a high altitude- not a tourist attraction- rather a kind of a pilgrim spot- one of the abodes of Shri Gagangiri Maharaj. Not much options for accommodation sparing Chavan Lodge, a miniscule MTDC barrack and the Ashram right at the top. Found a place at Chavan Lodge for 310 bucks with extra two mattresses adding up another 100 to the amount- that’s pretty cheap for 4 people getting down to the divided average amount with good facilities like a good working colour television- which didn’t show anything more than two channels. Hot water for morning bath, which wasn’t put to use either. Food was ok from the taste point of view, but attractive enough for being served hot on a chilly winter evening. Swallowed whatever was served till my stomach could take it no further.

Everyone had sufficient and a comfortable sleep at night. A good oily breakfast and roll to Gagangad in the early hours of the morning to kick start our day. Again a front flat tyre putting in some more hurdle of delays- but finally leaving the place through one of the most thrilling ghat sections I have been, the Karul Ghat which connects Kolhapur with the Konkan region. Some 20 kms of a thrilling and equally scary ride descending down to the plains. Again an out-of-the-world riding experience through Ratnagiri, blessed with curves and curves to add delight to a biker’s journey. Kapil and Apoorva swished ahead and I stopped occasionally for some clicks. Naijo decided to stay back at Ratnagiri to make most of his available leaves from office in visiting Ganpatipule and nearby attractions. End of the day’s work for the sun and night to take over- enjoyed riding in the dark, confidence of NH17 showing up for the fun. Took as fewer stops cutting down on time to reach home. Finally Vashi comes at 11.00 p.m. and Kapil leaves for his home- I head with Apoorva to his place to see the pics on a bigger screen. An unforgetful ride, the joy of rolling on great roads one could ask for. A satisfied mind and body finally bidding good bye to a dream with finishing touches from memories of the ride in the form of pictures.

Thanks again to all you three for the wonderful company making this a truly memorable trip. The hangover of an intoxicating ride is still alive, I blink my eye and I see images of those places flash in front- maybe I need to ride there again, don’t I?

Well that’s pretty long reading, now its showtime…. Enjoy the pics HERE!!!

A Trip Way Round

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Had been to Satara this Sunday to attend my friend's wedding. Was a good excuse to ride for some distance too and luckily got an off from office for Monday so that I could ride out as I had planned it.

This is what my route was like.
Mumbai- Lonavla- Pune- Satara- Khatav- Satara- Wai- Panchgani- Mahableshwar- Pratapgad- Poladpur-Mumbai.

Total distance covered both ways:
832 kms

Left on Sunday morning around 8 am and reached Khatav at 5.00 in the evening. Rode at my own pace, took stops wherever and whenever the surroundings or even the roads asked me to click a few memories. Thought for some thrill on the Khambatki, but the stretch was flooded with trailers and buses. The Pune-Satara road is a great one, but the roads from Satara towards the village were fantastic, no more than 15 feet wide- but not an inch of a bump. Loved cruising all the way keeping my neck and eyes busy on the ride through the countryside.

Once the wedding was over, got out wandering to get a clear and that amazing view of the sky which here in the city is separated by blankets of pollution. It was extremely cold, more than the ridiculous morgue-like AC-cooling in office, but enjoyed every bit of it. Not a ray of light in the dark, nor a sound of a pin drop and the sky studded with heavenly jewels- a telescope was missing here :) What a serene experience that was!!!

Got up next morning and left for the remaining part of the route. Once again riding back through the village in the morning was amazing. Took to Panchgani via Wai and fell in love with the Pasarni ghat section, funny quote this- but even the straights are zig-zagged. Enjoyed every inch of riding till Panchgani. Rode on the table mountain - was my second visit there, but still amazed at the flat structure, nothing short of nature's wonder. Some sight seeing of distant places like Kamalgad and Raireshwar, but through the binoculars. Left for Mahableshwar after some moments.

Reached Mahableshwar lingering around for some time before leaving for Pratapgad- time was on the shorter side. Nightmare struck when the front forks started leaking oil and somehow made their way onto the disc resulting in non-existent braking even with full force on the brake lever. Had to vigorously wipe the disc to avoid any mishap ahead. Thankfully that didn't happen again, though I was continuously keeping a check by feathering the brakes.

Reached the foothills of the historic and impregnable fort of Pratapgad. The view from down below is as ecstatic as the view from up there. Its like an Emperor seated on its throne served by the hills looking skywards in all its pride. A standing testimonial to the bravery and wit of a great ruler Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj. You people would have come across the story during your school days, so not going on a history lecture ;) Didn't take much time getting up there and the bike goes right up till the entrance of the staircase. Tried to scan and see each and every corner of the fort and the view around from up there, but still missed out on the backside- realized this when descending the ghats. Finally after a walk-through and state of satisfaction, thirst and hunger broke their silence. Not even a drop of water went inside since the start of the day. Looked out for a good place to eat and finally found one. What best to have than what the mavlas used to? Pithale Bhakri complemented by stuffed brinjals, onions, pickles and spicy ghati masala. Ate up till the brim of the stomach and finally sealing it off by a glass of cool buttermilk.

Started back home by 4.30 p.m. riding through the scenic but not so well-surfaced Ambaneli ghats, stopping occasionally for some pics. A halt at Poladpur for some tea plus a respite for the back and butt. Rode continuously till Karnala to again stop for some hot batata wada and tea to take me in a fresh and awake mood ahead. Wish I had a more powerful headlight and a new visor :( Reached home by 10.30 p.m. taking a much needed hot bath and dinner before dozing off with fresh memories in mind.

Thanks for reading a looooooong mail. Wish you like the pics- I know they aren't
clear, but that's the best a phone cam can do. HERE they are.

Visiting the impregnable called Janjira

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Vinod and I had been to a ride to Murud Janjira Fort.

Here's the distance log:

Thane to Vashi: 22 kms
Vashi to Wadkhal: 67 kms
Wadkhal to Alibag: 26 kms
Alibag to Murud: 58 kms

Total distance one way:
173 kms.

Roads till Wadkhal are great as usual. Wadkhal to Alibag- bad roads but not that worse. Alibag to Murud- ocassional bumpy stretches but including some great roads full of curves.

First we could sight the half-constructed Padmadurg (Kasa) fort far in the sea, which even today stands as a failure symbol to compete against the mighty Janjira. Viewing the Janjira fort from outside is a marvellous sight, though inside most of the monuments are in ruins. The sweet water lake is dirty and full of moss and the palace stands its identity only with its walls. The canons are one of the biggest I've seen- wondering how did they get it up there.

Enough words, now let the pics do the talking HERE

Harihareshwar ride with Sanket

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A short ride with Dr. Sanket to Harihareshwar.

Total distance covered both ways: approx 450 kms.

Route: Vashi-Belapur-Panvel (via JNPT road)- Wadkhal- Indapur- Mangaon- Mhasla- Harihareshwar.

Seriously wont recommend this place to anyone at this moment- at least not on bike, neither a car. Odd 40 kms out of the 60 kms from Mangaon to the place is in a mess. Had to ride at crawling space over those bumps and on the return came across heavy rains with the same messy roads with mud making it scaringly slippery.

But we had our own share of fun- having Parle-G biscuits on a dark night with steaming hot tea was an experience.

The pics HERE

Trip to the capital of a LEGEND

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(Ride/hike/trek to Raigad Fort)

Dont usually keep track of distances, but one way was exactly 233 kms. Took halts at my own sweet wish, giving my new Nokia 6233 some clicking exercises. Loved riding on the Mbai-Goa highway again. The village roads from Mahad towards Raigad fort were narrow and a bit bouncy, but still was able to sustain speeds of 80 kph before hitting the steep curved ghats.

Reached Raigad and decided to take a climb instead of getting up there via the ropeway/cable car (costs Rs.140/-). Had food before the climb- a big mistake I made. There are a total of 1476 steps excluding the pathway (its some 2500+ feet above sea level, if I remember its 2851 to be exact). Hardly climbed around 500 steps and all the food that went in came out in reverse gear..... I thought I couldnt make it to the top, luckily there was a local guy who was just pushing me to get on. Finally got up and thought never to stop till the top, I've never drank so much water in such a short time. I was carrying a 1 litre bottle and it got refilled and empty 5 times till the time I reached up.

The steps are big and you have to stretch your legs a bit extra, that added effort and the hot sun sucking out all the moisture in me. But finally did make it and getting up there made all my pains disappear. From down you can never imagine that its such a vast area. People said that it takes a lot of time to cover the entire place, but I've covered and clicked each and every corner of the fort in the given time that I had. It was such a different feeling to see, touch and feel something that stood testimonials to gone history- a place where the legend called Shivaji Maharaj stayed and took his last breath too. I could feel the walls talking to me and saying that they're now in ruins, but standing the test of time- they had seen all what had happened. And I was time and again rolling my palms over them as a mode of communication of my appreciation and sorrow.

Started the descend with some energy still left in my legs, visited the tomb of Shivaji's mother Jijabai which is down below and a km away. It was already getting dark and by the time I reached Mahad it was completely dark. No Vinod this time, and I had to manage things myself. Got behind a Qualis which was doing pretty good speeds and followed him till Vadkhal Naka. Came non-stop till home, will my back, thighs and butt absolutely sore :P

The pics HERE


Refreshing Tapola

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Had the privilege and opportunity to ride in the company of Vinod once again. Initially the ride was decided for Srivardhan, but after reaching our halt at Wadkhal, Srivardhan seemed too near to ride. So we said Mahableshwar, but then extended to Tapola- the place till date I have just admired in pictures. Was a one day ride- left at 8 in the morning and returned by 9.30 p.m.

The Mumbai-Goa Highway is at its usual best- can cruise comfortably over 100 kph all day long :) Your bike not permitting that is another issue :P

Courtesy of Vinod, following is the distance log: Home (Jogeshwari) to Palm Beach Road: 35 Km
Palm Beach Road To Wadkhal Naka: 60 Km
Wadkhal Naka To Poladpur Naka: 115 Km
Poladpur To Mahableshwar Check Post: 40 Km
Mahableshwar Check Post to Tapola Lake : 31Km
Mahableshwar Temple To Home (Jogeshwari): 280Km

Total Distance Covered:

Riding back in the dark would have been a scary experience if Vinod wasnt there. Maybe I can just sit on his tail riding during the day, but night- nothing beats him. I could make out his excellent anticipation skills and his vision in the dark- needs an applaud. And the reflectors on his Clover jacket makes a wonderful sight when light hits it- dont know if he realised it, but I was continuously dipping just to see it glow :))

Enough said, here are the PICS

Splash Sprint to Bhandardara

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Usually as it happens when someone doesn't go on a ride for a long time, the ride-bug out of its hibernation starts biting, leaving behind that itching sensation. Frankly to tell you people, its tough to get rid of it. The only solution- head on the open highway and sing along with your machine. You'd aware of the phrase "A motorcycle can't sing on the streets of a city", Seriously it cries in stop and go traffic- just hate to use the clutch again and again. So getting back to the point- couldn't resist the temptation- on a lookout for an opportunity to leave the city far behind. Lonavla was like a visit to the grocery store and monsoon invites bigger crowds plus no fun taking those curves to Amby Valley due to wet roads. Its was Thursday with Sunday fast approaching- had to plan for some new place. No time to waste, get on the net to hunt around for a place and come across Bhandardara. I remember Ishtiaque praising the place a lot, but recommended it for an overnight stay. Checked out the route and distance details- around 350+ kms from Mumbai, no big deal and ideal for a one day ride. Found the websites pretty appreciative of the place and monsoon was the best season to visit - for the beautiful waterfalls. Done!!! HAS TO BE BHANDARDARA.

Didn't want to make this a group ride, as the notice was too short, with heavy rains lashing all over and covering 350 kms in a day, after all halts at a brisk space would be asking a bit too much with riding in a group. So decided to keep a group ride out of the picture. But decided to seek Vinod's interest, who is ever ready to come on a ride. Kapil too was interested in the ride but had to opt out at the last moment owing to an unfortunate incident- his cousin met with an accident and was in a critical condition. Again gave a thought to myself of posting it as a group ride, but then taking into account the safety concern of others, one more time decided against it - just Vinod and me. Wanted to rip open the engine and just ride as fast as we could. I remember our last Mahableshwar Trip which was of a similar nature- was at short notice, had to return back before dark and hence we were on our own riding and chasing each other in the process.. I still remember leaving at 8.30 in the morning and reaching Poladpur at 10.15, covering a distance of approx 170 kms in this time with two breaks included. This style of riding would never bring a thought of a group ride. So nothing stopping us. We're prepared and raring to go - Bhandardara here we come!

Its Sunday, I am up on time with the sun still below the horizon, excited and eager to get out of the house, was through with the bike check-ups overnight. As usual had to calmly listen to mom's lectures as I am never found at home on Sundays and add to that heavy rains asking me to step out of home and throwing up a challenge for a game. Lecture is over, offer a small prayer to the almighty for a safe ride for both of us. Taking a tip from Vinod, I click my tripmeter reset to 0 kms. Vinod punctually is on time waiting for me on NH3 (Mumbai-Nasik Highway). We both meeting up after a long time, warm greetings and wishing each other the best of ride ahead. No speed limitations :P But ride for at least 50 kms before for a halt. So off we are under heavy rains, slugging it out with the downpour trying to wet us, but I managed to keep myself dry. I had properly wrapped myself in raincoat and Vinod in his windcheaters failed the war. Those windcheaters could only cheat the wind and not the rain. We kept riding at between speeds of 80-100 kph with the road inspite of rains providing confidence with good grip to our tyres. 

In Shahapur, 50 kms up on the tripmeter and it was time to take a stop- Vinod was totally drenched and shivering. Eyes fell on a small restaurant to warm ourselves up with some snacks and tea. Poor Vinod, his clothes had sucked in half the amount of rain on the way :D Hot pakodas and tea for the much needed heat inside. Vinodbhai tries an innovative method with to patch himself up with a plastic bag that he is carrying- cuts the bottom of the bag and just wears it like a neckless/sleeveless t-shirt. Innovative thinking that- but still the rains were at a bigger hand - I offer him my spare nylon football jersey. Poor chap was still getting wet and shivering. Time to proceed and we're off again.

The rains still pouring down heavily, but we're fighting it back at high speeds until we hit Igatpuri. The place was in a jam with traffic moving at snails pace. We were sneeking through in-between gaps like a reptile and kept moving ahead. I came across a small waterfall just passing by amidst the traffic jam . Waived Vinod to carry on and I pulled my bike over as much to the left as I could to take a pic. 

Had to really hurry with the cam as it was raining. On my bike again and finally was out of the jam- there was traffic on the road, but vehicles pretty much moving at a brisk pace. Vinod had already surged ahead and had to catch up. Riding downslope and an idiot truck driver honking madly for a side. No way could he get ahead of me as there was a car in front just a few metres away and then again some traffic and I too was doing a pretty good speed i.e around 60-70 kph. He doesn't give up on his acoustics, frustrated I glance my RVM to see whats wrong with him and hell... a crater comes up. Try to brake as hard as I could- avoiding a lock-up, but BANG I still hit it badly. I was sure at that speed the front rim would have come in for some treatment. Gave the idiot an ugly stare, but he isn't fazed and carries on with his reckless driving skills. Vinod had disappeared ahead and had to catch up with him. Just as I try to speed up, I realize that I had a major rim-out. Take a halt amongst heavy rains on the ghats to find one of the worst bend on my wheels. 

But couldn't do much about it- had to ride and reach out for Vinod. Get on with the game- twisting on the accelerator. Am about to gather speed and hardly roll on for some distance- I get lost and wrapped in a thick fog cover. Chilling experience that- but the party gets spoiled by equal bad roads. 

Ride with careful balance over loose gravel with a blurred vision of Vinod waiting for me. Get on with the game, rolling on, stopping occasionally to attend nature's calls. Finally we're at Ghoti, crawl through the market with people giving us the stares we've got so used to. Bump over the railway tracks and we're on the beautiful stretch. 

Recollect memories of our Shirdi trip roaring away on our bikes. This time was in no mood to repeat the feat- completely soaked roads and the beautiful greenery all round forcing me to stop time and again to click, with some excited paddy workers wanting me to take their snap too- didn't feel like disappointing them.

They're happy as if I am going to send them copies of the snaps by post ;) Poor Vinod is losing out on his patience as he too used to stop seeing me taking halts. Enough of pics- we ride on till we hit Pimpalgaon, take right for Bhandardara- the straight road goes to Sinnar.

Ascending bad roads and rains pressurizing us to keep a check all the time. The ascend is complete and I come across one of the most beautiful scapes I've ever seen in my life. 

I look back at the pics only to find they simply don't do justice to the beauty of the place. Also the pics automatically got resized to smaller ones- only god and the camera know how it happened. 

Now Vinod is really losing his cool with me stopping even more than before. I signal him to get ahead and I will catch up with him. But his usual care-for- others habit, which I, in fact everyone appreciates so much- doesn't allow him to go ahead, he's there waiting as a spectator watching me go excited with the cam at the scenery. I pacify his anger by clicking a pic of him too with hills in the background- surprisingly he still manages a smile :P

I resolve not to click any further pics and ride until we reach a significant landmark. Though the roads were still bad, it was fun riding looking around to find people in a celebration mood in the rain camping at any place they wished to stop, was a smiling ride all the way. Finally we come across a major landmark in the form of Wilson Dam. 

Now even Vinod cannot resist for some pics- it's a landmark after all. For me even a weird shaped tree seems worth for a click. Click a dozen of pics from as much angles as I could. The dam was a huge one, the biggest I had seen in person- earlier being the Modak Sagar at Vaitarna. Though the floodgates being closed, there was enough water to keep the banks as far from each other. The view of the scenery in the distance from the bridge with water just flowing into eternity was a refreshing experience. 

"India is such a beautiful country" I said to myself- we've not even seen a percent of what our motherland has to offer. I wish and hope that I spent most of the free time of my life exploring different shades of her, from the sweltering desert heat to the spine-chilling temperatures in the Himalayas, appreciating and thanking her for all that she had offered us since our existence. Also the time when I hang up my riding boots, I with a content mind should feel that though riding was never the purpose of my life, I had taken it through paradise when it still existed. Ooooops got a bit off-track here- oh so we're still at Wilson Dam. Next spot- Umbrella/Randha falls, vroooooooooom- off we are.

Not much distance to cover and we're at the place in quick time. The place was quite crowded and rains were not prepared to back out. The path leading to the falls was completely submerged under the wild flow. 

No one could ever in their imagination would think of going near. Was tough getting the cam out in the rain for a click. Used my helmet as a rain-shield, and with Vinod not willing to take off his lid and showing his handsome face- you'll always see him with his helmet-on in most of the pics. 

I try to get as close to the edge to get a good pic of the wonderful falls- shivering in fear. 

Am done with the pics with eyes and mind both satisfied soaking up the beauty of the surroundings. We both realize that nothing has gone inside our stomachs since Shahapur. With no restaurants nearby in sight, we manage with some kaanda-bhajis and tea-cuttings. The bhajis were indeed tasty, very different in taste and with the cold weather and hungry stomachs, it was a tastefully satisfying experience. But we're still hungry for actual food- hence next mission was to hunt for a good restaurant.

We head back through the same route, but this time we stumble across the open space at Lake Arthur, with the savage winds forcing us to hang-off of our bikes as if we're taking a sharp curve- scary experience that. Speed had to be near perfect so that we don't land on the ground either being too slow or going too fast. 

We reach the MTDC restaurant to find it completely occupied. 

Space was the secondary reason to run away from that place, the first being that we just couldn't stand the sight of people greedily gulping down hot steaming food with us standing like hungry hyenas. 

But luckily come across a make-shift restaurant for the season built with bamboos and tarpaulin. Drenched Vinod rushes in the kitchen to warm and dry himself. In the meantime I request for a quick order for food- a veggie plate for me and chicken for Vinod. The food wasn't good enough to cast an impression upon- but at least we were full. 

Took some time-off relaxing before heading off for back home. Time to take a U-turn, we again wish each other a safe ride ahead. Not stopping much this time, we keep riding before taking a halt after the Igatpuri Ghats at a Dhaba. Have some biscuits with a packet of biscuits from Vinod's collection. 

On our bikes again and we ride non-stop to Thane gratifying our need for speed in short bursts. Well my place is finally up with Vinod still to ride to Jogeshwari. The ending-scene of appreciative hugs for each other with prospective desires of riding together again. 

A formation ride for a short distance before the roads splits out into two, with us heading for our respective dwellings. Was a great ride and with company like that of Vinod's- it was a ride to remember. My hearty thanks to him for being with me on most of the rides and to you people for reading my looooong logs.

The distance log here- courtesy Vinod.

Home (Jogeshwari) to Thane IRB Toll Naka: 28 Km
Thane IRB Toll Naka to Shahpur: 48 Km
Shahpur to Kasara Ghat: 35 Km
Kasara Ghat to Ghoti: 24 Km
Ghoti to Pimpalgoan: 10 Km
Pimpalgoan to Shendi (Bhandardara Dam): 24 Km
Shendi (Bhandardara Dam) to Randha Fall: 10 Km

Randha Fall to Home (Jogeshwari): 182 Km. Total Distance Covered: 361Km.

To Saputara under a downpour

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Nothing much to write about. Riding under heavy rains as soon as we cross the Maharashtra border..... The hunting around for food at Dharampur like hungry hyenas. The plush green surroundings of the Dangs Forest Reserve and the Vansda National Park. The serpentine climb towards Saputara. The wonderful accomodation, awesome food at Purohits and the horrible ride back to Mumbai....

No cams this time- Sanket's Nokia 6630 1.3MP cam helped click some memories.

Here they are...

Short sprint to Dahanu and back

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And the road becomes my bride..

I have stripped of all but pride
so in her I do confide
and she keeps me satisfied
gives me all I need.................. METALLICA

This very much explains our experience on our sprint to Dahanu.

Glen (Wind 125), Parimal with his cousin Anish (P180 Classic), Sanket (P180 DTSi), Captain Jack aka Vinod (P180 DTSi) and myself (P150 DTSi).

Here are the pics.

Group Ride to Jawhar

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The destination:

The distance:
350 kms approx return

The riders and their machines:
Ishtiaque: Bullet Standard 500
Apoorva: Thunderbird 350
Vikram: Aquila 250
Krishna: Yezdi 250
Sameer: Pillion on the Yezdi
Glen: Wind 125
Rajeev: ZMA
Eric: ZMA
Vinod: Pulsar 180 DTSi
Sanket: Pulsar 180 DTSi
Prannoy: Pulsar 180 DTSi
Kapil: Pulsar 150 DTSi
Varun: Pulsar 150 Classic
Sunny: Pulsar 150 DTSi
Deepak: Pulsar 150 DTSi

Token of thanks:
At first my thanks to Ishtiaque- our thumping and touring Dadaji for the surprise turnout. To Kapil, Rajeev, Apoorva and Diamond for turning up at a last minute confirmation and to Vikram for riding all the way from Pune to join us.

Everything was planned and set for a wonderful day of riding. I always try to make sure that I get home early the previous night to get a good long sleep to enjoy the ride the next day and most important turn up at the meeting point on time. But as usual it’s similar fate for me. I always end up roaming out late and never find enough sleep. Came home at 2.30 in the night after hanging out and dining with Parimal, Sanket and Vikram. As a precautionary measure, had requested Vinod to wake me up early morning. Got a good firing from Mom being so late and riding early next morning. Washed up and lay flat on my back- the thought of the ride was shooing away sleep away from my eyes- wasn’t able to sleep at all. Tried to tight-wink my eyes to sleep but couldn’t. No option but to watch TV and finally at around 4 my eyes started getting heavy and I went to sleep. The phone rings and someone at the other ends says “Good morning Mr. Dongre” – I see my watch, 5:50 a.m…. yaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn….. what the hell good morning?? Spoiled my sleep. Suddenly am in my senses, it’s Vinod :D “Get ready, nahi to late ho jayega” he tells me. Damn, its riding day – I say fine. Get cracking and finish off everything by 6.45 and ready to leave. Call up Glen to find him at his breakfast table. As decided I reach the Cadbury’s flyover end before time. Get an sms from Akhilesh of not being able to make it despite his best efforts- the Saturday hangover was too strong to let him ride :)) No probs, next time. Call up Kapil and he is about to leave, he has no idea about Apoorva if he has left or if he’ll be coming for the ride.

Some minutes later Glen arrives, then Apoorva on his Thunderbird. Glen and myself spend some time checking out his bike asking all sorts of questions. Finally Kapil and Rajeev arrive in their awesome looking Fieldsheer jackets. Rajeev was looking more of a MotoGP racer with the jacket, a shiny new GP-One shell with a dark visor and with an even more shinier cherry red ZMA :) We decide not to waste any time and ride to Ghodbunder. 20 minutes of riding takes us to Ghodbunder with everyone waiting and we being the last of the pack to arrive. Sunny, Sameer and Krishna were to catch us up at Bhiwandi bypass ahead. Time for lift off….. engines revving - filling up the entire surrounding with a growl with people with their usual surprise glare. Anyways we’ve got used to that :P Vinod’s given the responsibility of leading the pack with Ishtiaque and me being the tail. I mumble a small prayer to the almighty for a safe ride for everyone ahead. Tap on the first cog and everyone’s off. Just as a train leaves the platform slowly and gradually picking speed, so was the group. The pack was actually looking like a train from far behind :) Vinod pauses up again on the bridge to check if no one is left behind… fine it is. Lets go!!!!

Just as we’re about to hit our decided speed of 80 kph- come across a bunch of packed traffic. Gawd!!! Why today- its Sunday and these number of vehicles??? The group gets separated with Ishtiaque, Vikram, Glen and me being left behind. Wriggle our way out of the mess and again as we’re about to pick up speed- again same story. This rolls on for some distance with me wondering if we’re actually going to ride in this manner all the way to our place. Due to the traffic no one took notice of Sunny, Krishna and Sameer, but thankfully we stumbled upon them. The fore-runners were waiting ahead for us to regroup- small introduction among the newer guys and we’re off. Crap…. Same mess again… traffic. We lose a lot of time due to some foolish car drivers who think they could actually crawl their cars out from a 3 feet gap. The next pre-decided halt was Manor and it was quite some distance away with we same three being left behind. I decided to stay with Vikram with Ishtiaque trailing as we rode on. Found Sunny waiting ahead for us. The road was amply clear of traffic and with Ishtiaque being the tail and there to take care of Vikram, Sunny and myself decided to have a small burst. Same old story- my bike getting its nose ahead in the drag :P clocked a best of 122 kph in the sprint. Suddenly we find Krishna and Sameer in sight fiddling around with the Yezdi. Some small niggle- but is quickly done away with.

We’re off and reach Manor in a short time. Give a breather to our engines before heading to our usual stopover at the restaurant for some refreshments. Vinod, Prannoy, Ishtiaque and Sanket move earlier and I decide to lead the rest of the pack till the restaurant. I decide to ride slow to not overcross the right turn that we would be taking for the restaurant and this slow process makes us lose the other four. I come across a place which looks very similar like the one we stop at, but I had my doubts and I still ride on. Sunny comes honking all the way and says that we have come far ahead. Agreeing to him we take a right for the place and reach only to find that my feeling was right. It wasn’t that place- and nobody even including myself remembers that its Sarovar that we stop at. Try to call the other people but network not getting through. After trying a lot we finally decide to get in and have some something to fill. Suddenly my phone rings and its Prannoy asking us where we are. We convey that we would be catching up only after we are full. The eating session takes longer time than expected with the sun rising overhead and with jackets on, we’ll be sweating a lot. Anyways we move out to catch up with the four with we three (Vikram, Sunny, Ishtiaque and me) being at the far end. Get onto a steady speed and finalllllly meet the rest at Charoti Naka. Sanket was at his usual best of showering some unusual vocabularical phrases on me :))

75% of the distance was covered, and riding mostly on straightish highways- it was about time to look at the track ahead at leaning angles. The roads turned out to be exactly as I had posted in my plan- twists and twists and twists and to complement that the quality of the roads was simply superb- I don’t remember if we bumped up our seats anytime except for a couple of speed breakers while passing villages. Being at the tail and watching the group ahead is an experience. Seems like a caterpillar is making its way swerving around branches of a tree. Glen who had a scary time at Malshej Ghats was in his own mood taking curves like pros- was having a gala time riding. Everyone had to stop as Diamond was filling dizzy and dehydrated with Ishtiaque helping him out with some water. A brief nap again riding some distance with everyone trying out Apoorva’s TB which was like operating a machine gun without a barrel than riding it, just shakes you up :P

Getting off from the place and we finally reach Jawhar market and take into a shade under nearby shops feasting upon some sweet and juicy melons to cool off. Kapil is dead hungry and madly on a lookout for a restaurant. Ishtiaque wanders around to enquire about a waterfall nearby that he had heard about. To my thoughts, it was tough finding a waterfall in such a hot and dry place. He came back with information that it was some 8 kms away from the market. Poor Kapil had to keep himself hungry for some more time. Everyone rides off with some sections giving scares- roads were to the edges of the cliff with hardly 10 feet wide. That was the end of tarmac riding and time for some off roading. A local fellow says that bikes won’t go till the place, but everyone was in a mood for adventure and we decided to take to the rough track. Was wondering how Ishtiaque with his Bullet 500, Apoorva with his TB and Vikram on his Aquila would be handling their machines - but they came out well as we did.

Getting off our bikes, sweating badly in the scorching sun and what do we see…. WATER…. Everyone’s kind of so impatient that we start descending down the hill. No one was willing to delay any further of jumping into the water, firstly everyone was badly sweating and second the rocks were baking our feet taking away the chances of standing still at a place. Everyone gets rid of their clothes and splash into the water enjoying the welcome change. The place was void of anyone around and everyone was screaming with all their breath. I put Vinod’s and Vikram’s cams to work clicking a few of the moments before getting into the flow. I get a scare of my life when I step into a pit underwater with water above my head level and the problem is I don’t know to swim. I panic and just flutter for help, Vikram comes to my rescue and pushes me out- my whole body was shivering of fright. But seeing everyone enjoy makes me forget the scare and I am back again in the water but with caution. We spend a lot of time in the pool before making our climb up again, it was a tough climb, we had utilized all our energy splashing in the puddle and now stomachs are crying out for food and the throat for water. I was almost going to faint with my throat running dry before Kapil takes out a bottle from his bag. I owe him a big thanks as I do to Vikram. We take a small nap under a shade before riding off to the market again. There aren’t much restaurants to eat and the one available was too expensive for our liking. We find a melon-vendor again and everyone’s at it. Gulping down as much as we can- stomachs were full and having food that time would put us to sleep riding. Ishtiaque recommends that we ride all the way to Charoti and have food at a Dhaba which serves good food. Everyone’s affirmative and we ride off. This time the group breaks off, we come to a two-way road with one saying Mumbai and the other Charoti. We take the Charoti route and find everyone waiting ahead. This time everyone suggests that I lead till the next stop. Enjoyed riding this time too down the ghats effortlessly cruising around 80 kph without a worry of us hitting a bump.

We reach Charoti and get right into the Dhaba and to our misfortune nothing is available to eat except dal and parathas. Ishtiaque speaks to the restaurant fellow to get fresh chicken cooked. Kapil and myself being veggies order dal tadka, rajma with aaloo ka parathas. I have never eaten such tasty parathas in my life. The non-veggies too make around our table and just munching out their share. Kapil finishes off eating first and I am carrying on with people still around. Now the chicken arrives and I find everyone just disappeared from the table… these hungry demons. With reflexes as quick as Keanu Reeves in matrix, these fellas finish off the chicken in no time. The food was something that I will remember for a long long time. No guessing that I’ll be making a trip again just to eat those parathas there. A small rest before getting up again for the journey back home. Its already dark and we decide that experience riders be placed in between the group to take care of the newbies. I just check for some loose bolts and tighten my chain. Everyone’s off on the highway cruising along well as planned, people having the hazard blinkers on to be in sight. The pack is split again- Vikram doesn’t have much experience riding under such conditions and we are into a lower speed compared to the group ahead. Vikram is still trailing and needs to be taken care that we don’t lose him in the dark. As always Vinod puts his hand up to help on the occasion to cover-escort him, while we three zoom ahead taking a couple of more stops to regroup. Come across a bulleteer gentleman who has lost some of his stuff, but there wasn’t any way that we could have done and ride off the place. We slowly reach Ghodbunder, to find everyone’s left- we were that slow. Ishtiaque and Vinod leave for their homes, while Sanket and I decide to stopover at Vikram’s Mumbai residence. Get to Vikram’s place, take a nice hot shower to get away with the bit of stress, have food and flat I am on the bed.

My thanks to everyone who turned up to make it a fun-filled and safe ride. It was a perfect blend of cruising, swirling around, off roading, a bit of trekking, swimming- a truly adventure filled trip. I am sure everyone would have enjoyed the ride as I did.

Enjoy the pics here : http://www.picturetrail.com/gid10048472


Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels:

I still remember the day - I was on a call at a PCO along with my punctured Ranger Swing informing my friend that I won’t be able to make it to his place and would be heading back home. There comes along a shiny red Classic Pulsar in its usual growling style- staring hard straight at me through its big round head as if asking me what the hell are you doing here? That mean look of the machine shot out an illusionary arrow that pierced right through my senses, and I took a firm decision right at the place that if my day comes to buy a bike, it has to be the Pulsar and nothing else. I was madly in love with the CBZ earlier which I still am, but the attitude of the Pulsar that simply pours out of its design, the violent slashes on the tank, the panels were enough to set my heart racing and on fire, leave alone the feeling of riding it, it dislodged the CBZ if not out of my mind but certainly off its slot. I used to stare at other people rolling on their steeds with the burning passion and desire to have one with me some day. I knew I couldn’t afford one at that time, but I was sure of one universal fact, time and situations are never constant- they change and will change for the better. With a prolonged craving deep inside, the only thing I could do was just wait for my day.

More than two years pass by- it’s November 2003 and I get a better opportunity with a good boost in pay as well. So finally I could see my machine rushing towards me from the edge of the horizon and my wishes taking shape. As a usual habit before getting anything for myself, I started collecting whatever reviews I could get from owners, from the web, from magazines, newspapers and what not. Based on all the research which lasted for a month, which I found all good and satisfying, there was nothing holding me back to go in for one of my own. Just passing by a book stall, my eyes fall on a copy of Overdrive mentioning about the DTS-i version. No second thoughts, picked it up right away. The review and the test were excellent, or should I say it sounded like a paid review ;) only praises and praises and praises. I was on a lookout for some weaknesses of the machine, which I hardly came across in the matter. But my homework of getting reviews from people helped me out. Its mid December and I am finally into the process of getting my machine, the funny part is that I didn’t even know to ride a bike. So for some practice session, I asked for Revel’s (my friend) Splendor and the max I did was 20 kph in second gear- but nonetheless I got the confidence that I could handle a two wheeler after years of riding a bicycle :D

One of my friends was working in a general 2 wheeler showroom. Got it touch with him and he was as happy as me - I was getting business for him after all. So at the end of all the explanation for requirements of proof and documents, I rushed through all the formalities required for getting my steed booked, on installments obviously - didn’t have that heavy of a bank balance. The difference in installments between the 180 and 150 wasn’t much and I decided to go in for the former as I wanted the best available. The dealer enquires about my experience of riding. With a modest grin on my face I say none- I had just got my learner’s licence :P He suggests that I go in for a 150, the 180 would be too much for me to handle , mileage is ridiculous and will give lot of problems in course of time. That time there wasn’t anyone to guide me and my knowledge about bikes was not even in decimal percentage. I said fine – I’ll go for the 150. He shows me a blue 150, got very eager and restless for a test ride, which I found tough taking. Couldn’t get the bike rolling in 1^st gear, was stalling now and again. But finally after 10-12 retries, I finally got it on the move. Had a hard time handling it- was a huge machine compared to the Splendor I had got on once, the weight and power both were on the higher side and so were the handlebars J Was satisfied for sure, but the blue colour was somewhat that my eyes couldn’t accept and I asked him for a black one. So deal was struck and he committed me delivery for my black 150 in 7 days with RTO registration. Its December 29^th 2003, the dealer stood firm to his commitment on delivery. It was a day which had more than one reason to be joyous- one being taking delivery of my first bike and second Rahul Dravid had just hit a boundary off Stuart McGill to take India to its win in Australia after considerable number of years.

I take my friend along to the showroom to take delivery of my bike as I knew I couldn’t ride it at all, that was a secondary reason anyway, first being I still didn’t have a proper licence and the nervousness on my face would be a happy and open invitation to cops to extort money from a poor rider like me L Trusting my friend, I took delivery of my black beauty- didn’t got around checking for things being in the right place. The odometer reading 30 kms – that was because the bike had been bought from the Bhiwandi Showroom, and with hardly any fuel in the tank I ask my friend to get it our on the road with me as a pillion. Gave it a treat worth 200 bucks of Power from a nearby HP bunk. Next stop was at a sweet shop for a buy- gave my friend a packet as a sign of thanks and appreciation and took the other for our ritual proceedings on arrival of a new member in our family. Back home, my mom and sis were ready with coconut, flowers and incense sticks- very eager to welcome the new member. Bang goes the coconut on the floor followed by our traditional pooja ceremony, sweets are distributed to our neighbours who are equally overjoyed on seeing the first Pulsar in their area J I could see signs of worry on my mom’s face, I ask her to come on the road- I take the bike along and thankfully this time I don’t stall it in gear. I show her that I am confident and able enough to handle it.

The travel routine to office was still by bus, was madly waiting for my pukka licence to come. I joined the bajajpulsar group for more information skills on riding and maintenance. I remember seeing their ride pic in some issue of Overdrive where BAL had invited them to test ride the new DTS-i. Wow, what a privilege??? I sincerely owe and appreciate the group for the most of the things which I’ve learnt till date. I come to know they’re having a meet on the 25^th of Jan 2004, which I didn’t want to miss. Unfortunately my licence still hadn’t come- I get on the head of the agent to expedite the matter. Thankfully on 23^rd January 2004, I got my pukka licence, the test ride at the RTO wasn’t that stringent and tough. Next on the list was riding gear, the awareness which I got being on the bajajpulsar group. As a Mclaren fan and supporter I bought myself a black DC Mclaren design helmet. Had to ride to office the next day and didn’t want to ride without a helmet. Mika was my favourite F1 driver and after his retirement, as a tribute to him I decided to pass on to his name on to my machine, to which people assumed the name of some bakwas boring bhangra singer :))

From 29^th Dec 2003 to 24^th Jan 2004 my machine had just clocked 255 kms. Got my machine on the road and out of my area for the first time all by myself. Rode to office like a horse with blinkers, nor looking here nor there, was only looking at the path I was supposed to. Stalled a couple of times in traffic owing to nervousness, but the primary electric start came to the rescue. Took a sigh of relief once I reached office and came back home without much worry. I was excited for the next day’s meet, will be meeting a lot of other riders. I remember Arpan being kind enough to call me up and confirming my attendance for the meet. So 25^th January 2004- my first group meet and the odometer just crossing the 300 kms mark. Was a delighting experience meeting Prannoy, Sunny, Arpan and others. Prannoy’s bike was as new as mine and from that day onwards we’re having a competition of clocking the most number of kms :)) Right now I think I’m quite ahead of him – just 10kms to go for the 48,000 mark, which hopefully I’ll be completing today.

So that was the start of my biking life. Today I can rightfully call it as my secondary soul, a soul as it is always there, something that I cannot live without and secondary because on the contradicting part to my former words, it had parted me on occasions, but that was when I used to take it for a refresh at the service centres. Its painful to even part with your machine for a day, ask Kedar how he felt when had to give his bike for a mag change :( Anyways that doesn’t end here. Adding to it, I found a true friend who has always stood by me in the sunny-happy days and the dark times. It has been there with me when I was happy meeting and chatting with you lovely friends thinking how wonderful this gift of life is, and at other times when had things not going my way, worries and tensions on the rise with tears in my eyes- still it was there besides me. Its been the medium through which I got opportunities to meet someone whom I loved so much, it has seen me happy involved in deep conversations with her even without being jealous a bit. It was there seeing me alone weeping when we parted, limitations stood in between and all it could do was just watch helplessly, but always tried to calm me down when on the move.

It has always been neutral irrespective of the circumstances it has been in. It has crashed on more than one occasion, I believe it holds the record on the group for the max number of crashes, but it stood up and ran as if nothing has happened. I remember last year’s floods, it weaved out through deep water like a half-submerged submarine - the time when more than half of the people I saw with their machines dead and refusing to start. It carried me all the way home without a slight stopover. That’s the lesson it has taught me, be firm and just keep running- whatever the circumstances, call it “THE UNSHAKEABLE”.

People will term it as a machine which runs on fuel and all reasons behind it moving on the road is purely scientific, but not to me. For myself it has its own distinct identity- ITS ALIVE, it does feel the pain when it gets a heavy jerk courtesy our merciless roads, and I apologise for me being not cautious enough to avoid the bump. Its got its share of pats whenever its has come out calm and composed out of stretches which I wasn’t confident of going through at speeds. When aboard, I always feel one with it as if we’ve been carved out of a single block, hence I come to know about even a small niggle, as you feel if there’s something wrong in your own body. I always love riding as it does, hates to sit idle- it wants to roll miles like munching peanuts and I see to it that both of our wishes are fulfilled whenever I get an opportunity.

Going on a long ride is like meditation for me, my state of mind is like that of an idle needle of a voltameter, no outside charge to move its from its position, absolutely zero, no thinking- the only thing I do is feel. Feel the wind that is constantly embracing and hugging you, as if it is welcoming you to see the wonderful art of god that nature is. The first rays of the morning sun melting down the chilly bits of frost inside you, warming you for the day’s ride ahead. I owe all these gifts to my bike, all these wouldn’t have been possible in its absence. I would have been sitting like a couch potato in a bus with the same-everywhere feeling of the air-conditioner and some stupid movie playing, waiting for my destination - whereas on my machine, I’ve inhaled every bit of air that has come along my path, I’ve felt the road that I passed, through the tyre grooves kissing and talking to the road. I sincerely thank my bike and the person who invented the motorcycle, they’ve made me experience heaven being right here on this planet.

I pamper it a lot, try to get the best fuel and oil available. Give it a bath in a manner as I would have to an infant. Always insist on original parts to keep both of us satisfied, and it counter-thanks me for all this by running smooth and wonderfully well. But sometimes we both get bored of doing the routine commuting speeds and occasionally it urges me to take the throttle grip to the other end. It extends the best of cooperation when I maneuver it at high speeds through traffic on the highway- as if its saying don’t worry I’ll help you take it.

The best part is as I’ve said earlier, it has bought me very good friends in life, it’s been a boat that has taken me to a treasure island and given me real gems. Not to mention it has also enjoyed ferrying a lot of my female friends, even more than I do :D Don’t know if its psychological, but it responds so differently whenever there is a female pillion behind, it feels much zippy and peppier compared to riding solo. It has served me modestly as a faithful associate and I try my best to keep it around in the vicinity of my eye-sight. Maybe one day by the grace of god and the wishes of you good people turns me lucky to go in for an SBK, still I doubt that I will be able to part with my machine. Surely your first bike has its corner in your heart, but my machine doesn’t deserve a corner coz it is already a portion of my heart. It’ll be the same for me even after years down the line and I’ll try my best to keep it as it looks today….. its special.

On the concluding part- what do you call something who never leaves you, someone who pacifies you and calms you down in depression, always alert at your commands yet never complains. Confers upon you the bliss of heaven right here, helps you make new and good friends. A world where people say today its hard to find a good friend, its got me plenty. How do you thank someone who does all these for you? I believe you simply can’t do it enough. Then would you still call it a machine, surely not. It means so much to me- should I call it my shadow….. or a reflection of myself. I won’t go wrong if I do…….. would I ?

Ride on, Ride Safe....