Weekend Group Ride to Ratnagiri

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , , , ,

"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world."….Gustave Flaubert

Interest for a group outing evinced by the regulars on a Saturday meet turned out to be one of the most wonderful rides with my dear biker buddies. I didn’t expect everybody to turn up- was a bolter when the count turned out to be more than the interested candidates. Since the last year everyone has turned nocturnal- all want a night ride and that too on NH17!!! Great going!

500 kms even at night for our chaps is a cake walk and with company as big as this- it would have been a rocking party ride. Deciding on a destination 500 kms away from the bustle would land up somewhere in the south corner of the State. So Malvan it was and Tambarde was the beach we would be riding to- all Vinod’s plan. A small issue cropped up- Vaibhav had a hectic day on Friday and no ways could he ride under stress. He was as eager as everyone else, and didn’t at all feel like leaving him out. With change of plans it was now decided to move early on Saturday morning. Not even once did it strike that leaving on Saturday morning for a 500 kms ride would mean an overnight sleep outing. Where do we have the time to site see?

Got onto the keyboard again hunting on the terms that the place has to be on NH17 and secondly we should be there by noon. Came across Bhatye beach in Ratnagiri which satisfied both of the criteria. My colleague Vikas a native of Ratnagiri, helped in providing the other details and places of interests around Bhatye. Thought of giving the other guys a treat ride through Amba Ghat – a longer route for return but worth it. Plan’s up- though like every time, have to run around on mails for confirmation.

The day arrives, meet up with Arjun, Glen and Vinod at Kanjur and rehearse a short group ride till our meet up point at Vashi. Except for Vaibhav and Sanket who were to join late, everyone was pretty much on time. Sanket didn’t make it and decided to catch us up on the way. Suddenly someone on a Silver Pulsar 180 comes near and starts revving like crazy- maybe one of those envious maniacs I thought. Once we spot the BN sticker at the rear of the bike, it didn’t take time to realize it was our very own Praveen aka PPS, who disappeared the same way he burst on the scene. We regroup in a riding formation and with Vinod in the lead we roll towards our destination.

Through those lovely roads of Palm Beach and JNPT enjoying the cool morning breeze in a terrible summer season that we were experiencing in Mumbai. We stop over at Palaspe Naka for refuel and with Sanket arriving a few minutes later- the group was complete. Here we are on NH17 riding in an eye-candy staggered formation, but not before laughing our lungs out at Sanket’s wicked jokes. Sweeping the lovely curves at Karnala and onto the straights from Wadkhal, we take our first scheduled stop for Breakfast at Kolad.

Wada-misal with fried chillies and tea to top up, the halt goes into extension with talks on all available topics and with Sanket around there was no shortage of jokes either.

Everyone leaves Kolad with me and Glen dragging and catch up with the guys waiting at Poladpur enjoying tea, lemon juice, golas and what not.

It’s decided to ditch a formation ride on Kashedi and let everyone enjoy the ghats on their own but well within their control. Vaibhav is off, followed by Vinod and me on the chase. Wasn’t at my best taking those curves- maybe my last crash had added to the psyche and my bike wasn’t at its handling best either. Thought its more to do with the frame of mind than the bike. Tried to go round the curves as I would normally and a fishtail is what I got. My bike wasn’t inspiring any confidence and I carried at normal pace to catch up with Vaibhav who wasn’t to be seen till I touched the peak of Parshuram Ghat- but never found him. Everybody arrives including Vaibhav who had stopped in between for the trailing pack.

Everyone takes a quick shade gulping down glass after glass of kokam sharbat. Like the earlier, this halt too was turning out to be a laughter session. With a few clicks here and there, everyone’s off in small packs. 

A few in between halts under tree shades to escape the summer sun, crossing the bridge over the creek we reach Ratnagiri. Sanket, Dhananjay and myself go hotel hunting. We locate one suggested by a local, but to find it all locked and put up for sale. Drop into one nearby lodge and fix up the deal for a double room for 1500/- which worked out to Rs.150/- per head…not bad. Get the rest of the pack to the rooms. Luggage is dumped, everyone’ getting fresh in the meantime Vinod and Dhananjay bargain for dinner arrangements.

Though tired after a hot afternoon’s ride, everybody is hungry as starved wolves and on the lookout to crash into the first restaurant we would find for lunch. Some more delay as Arjun gets a rear tyre puncture. 

Till the time the puncture is fixed, Vinod and myself creep into a rickshaw taking a short sleep. 

Some moments later we’re having lunch in an ok type of restaurant with ok type of food and ridiculous furniture and seating arrangements. We expected comfort after a half-day ride, but then the chair felt like sitting on some rock.

We’re out of the restaurant, though not satisfied with food but at least with filled stomachs and the energy to carry forward. Next POI (point of interest) was Ratnagiri Fort. Wriggling through the narrow lanes we come to face with the vast ocean at the foothills of the fort. Like myself, am sure the mammoth view of the ocean took away all the tiredness and the day’s heat out of everyone.

We proceed to Ratnagiri fort and stare down the now extended jetty thinking to ride till the end. The site of a car parked on the jetty excites us all…YIPEEE! Since the past 3 years, I’ve been waiting for this day. After a few clicks on the fort, we rush down to the jetty.

Like excited and happy pups, everyone is completely freaked out. Everyone clicking and clicking in their own angles and from occupied corners. Solo, group, with bikes, without bikes- we click click click till the sun goes down.

We’re back to the hotel after doing rounds of the city, shopping for fish and…. ahem….other required stuff for the night ;) 

In the meanwhile the table was set up, we went out strolling to have glimpse of the rotating beam of the Ratnagiri light house. By the time we are back, everything was set with snacks and baatlis are out. There was an outbreak of laughter since we took our seats. Didn’t know what time we got cracking and how many hours had passed, until Parimal called up at 11.00 pm, who had left Pune at 5 in the evening and had covered more than 450 kms in 6 hours including the 100 kms stretch of between Karad and Chiplun via Kumbharli ghats- takes some guts to ride through that stretch at night. I myself would give it a skip and look for an alternative if I were in his place. Nonetheless his induction into the already running laughter-blaster raised the graph.

Being the only group at the place, we were least bothered about distraction to anybody. Through with dinner and already past midnight, we decided to head to Bhatye beach. Looking up at the stars and the light house awake and on its duty and flaunting our HIDs up in the sky.

While everyone headed back to the hotel, Dhananjay, Alkesh and me rode towards Pawas for some distance to check out the HID in the P220 projector. We’re back to find everybody in the room capturing places for the night’s sleep. Luckily I did get a place, where at one point I thought I might have to sleep out. The lights went off one by one and everyone was deep in sleep, a few trying to emulate the Ducati’s and Harleys through their noses :D Good night Ratnagiri!

Sanket, Vaibhav, Sarang and Dhananjay planned to leave early via NH17 and were gone before our eyes opened. Even Glen and Revel went missing though their bikes were out- came to know they had gone to the beach. Brushed up, had tea and tried to get to the beach from the rocky path. It was suicide point…dead vertical drop landing nowhere but on the waves below violently hitting the rocks. A local pointed us the way to the beach called Kurli. Within a few minutes, everyone were rolling on their bikes on the beach like Spanish fighter bulls going berserk on the field.

Despite being a hydrophobian, it was the best experience I ever had in water and same goes with everybody. Except our bikes and us, there was nobody on the beach. 

A long time was spent in water, jumping over the waves, hurling sand balls at each other, swimming in hardly waist deep water with Vinod getting over worried about us. Was over an hour and we are still lost in our playfulness. Gradually everyone was out with Arjun and me not prepared to leave the waves behind. Poor guy lost his specs in the waves and couldn't trace till the end. Unfortunately in the end with a very heavy heart had to come out. But from one activity to the other- we are back on our bikes marking our territories on sand. Arjun was in full WRC mode drifting his ZMA all over. Glen was speeding from one end to the other suggesting us the method of drying oneself in quick time.

We were back at the lodge and gave the bikes a good wash. Vinod had given a good splash to my bike and it was my turn to return the favour :D

Had bath, packed up, had poha for breakfast cooked very generously in oil. A short halt for refuel and we (Vinod, Arjun, Alkesh and myself) split from the rest of the pack (Glen, Revel and Parimal) from Haathkhamba. A few kms of riding through NH17 and villages took us to the foothills of the gorgeous Amba Ghat. The 3 sped ahead and I rode at my own place clicking those inviting twisties. The love story was over in an hours time and we took a halt under a shady tree.

Carrying on with the ride we stopped over to have juice instead of lunch that would make us drowsy on the arrow straight NH4. Till the time juice was being made, Arjun kept us entertained with his hanging skills :P Mind you he was also riding without his specs and with a dark visor which would come into play as soon as it got dark.

Touched NH4 and we planned to ride as much as possible without breaks. Though we couldn’t resist a sunflower field on the way.

Carried on riding with throats getting dried up, but Vinodbhaiya was happy overtaking cars displaying his multi-talented skills to the car drivers. Fortunately we did halt over at Kaapurhol for tea and water and later for refueling Arjun’s ZMA.

An hour later we were at Lonavla on the last pre-decided stop for tea after which it was a non stop cruise till EEH near Airoli.

Was the end of a wonderful trip that we all had. One of the best trips we had as a group, though I wished everyone was there at Kurli beach. Would have been a complete blast like the boat ride we had to Suvarnagad. Hearty thanks to everyone who made this trip a success and brought about experiences to be cherished as memories for the rest of the life. Thanksgiving apart, my thumbs up to Sarang for being so controlled on his 180, Revel on his Hunk was a surgeon’s knife on an autopsy and Arjun for riding for 500+ kms without his specs not to mention his leaning skills on Kashedi- this guy’s a champ rider :) All in all an unforgettable event.

Moments from the memorable ride

Also pics clicked by VAIBHAV (some of the snaps above are flicked from his album) and SARANG.

Just another one day outing

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,

I think that travel comes from some deep urge to see the world, like the urge that brings up a worm in an Irish bog to see the moon when it is full.... Lord Dunsany

Since the day we've been given off's on 2nd and 4th Saturday's, I've tried to use it in the best way I could. Doesn't turn out be great everytime though, but then sometimes it does. Like the last Malshej ride, it was Alkesh again as my tour operator for the weekend. He hardly negates or disagrees to any riding plans- even with a 72 kg pillion. Initially this ride was planned to Lavasa with colleagues who mostly belonging to the intra-city sprinting species had tasted their own dose of biking nirvana on their one-off ride to Indapur. Their sky-high level excitement and the eagerness to ride out again bought pleasant feelings and anticipation of new biker buddies. Unfortunately my expectations got a back-kick and they all dropped out of the ride.
I've never cancelled any planned rides till date, except for the Amboli trip where it was a compulsion as my P150 landed with a ceased engine- but then I did ride to Amboli with Alkesh once I was through with the running in. So coming back to this ride I asked Alkesh if we could carry on ahead with the plans with some slight changes to the destination. Being in no mood to back out- we decided to make it a circular ride starting Mumbai passing through Pune-Mulshi-Tamhini-Mangaon-Diveagar and back to Mumbai via NH17. Well, I had my own selfish element in the route. Varandha, Bhuibavda, Amboli, Kumbharli, Karul, Phonda, Amba, Parsani, Ambenali....had ridden through all these Deccan-Konkan connecting ghats and with only Tamhini unexplored- the ride plan was up.

Sun's up on Saturday and we meet up at Vashi at 7.30 as I had to drop my bike at Revel's place. Soon we're on Palm Beach road, soaking up the rays of the morning sun through our eyes, feeling and inhaling the fresh breeze with visors flipped up, trees on the divider passing your eye in a hurry-flurry....aaaaah! being pillion is not that bad anyways...never saw Salil cribbing about being pillion- now I know why. Bumping over those 16-strip speed breakers of JNPT, its our first halt for cost-saving refuel at Palaspe Naka.
Into cruise-control again on NH4 and though the P220 pillion seat being not the most comfortable, was enjoying my ride as pillion till we landed up at Hotel Rishabh, Khopoli.
Unlike the lovely dinner you get here, the breakfast was contrastingly terrible. I would suggest never to have breakfast here…..yeah, tea is really good- but then only tea, nothing else. Called up Sanket to confirm the exact diversion from NH4 towards Tamhini.

Alkesh offered me to ride for a short distance and with a few twisties still left I couldn’t refuse. At blast right from the word go- touched 115 kph, not bad considering a heavy pillion. Khopoli was long gone and ascending the ghat section scrapping the centre stand at every curve (its so irritating) we take a halt for a click at the last hairpin before touching the expressway.
Later dropped into Lonavla Petroleum Depot, not for refuel but just to say hello to Mr. Laalsaab- my witness for the SaddleSore. He was overjoyed to see me and enquired if everything went smooth with the documentation of the SS. With still long way to go, we had to unfortunately turn down his tea offer.

I carried on riding in the same fashion with places passing in a flurry- till I hear Alkesh screaming from behind. I slow down and ask him the matter….”abey kitna chalaayega tu” he asks. I burst into a loud laughter and told him to wait till Dehu Road. It wasn’t me for riding, but he had gone stiff sitting for this long. Dehu road is here and time for a butt break and cool refreshing neera… 4 gulps of it.

It was the end of the zipping love affair with the 220 and I was back to where I belonged. Alkesh was all charged up, could make out by his restraint to come down below 100. At this pace reaching Chandni Chowk was quick. Soon we were swaying from one side to the other on the twisties of Mutha Ghat. Alkesh ensured that I was constantly thrilled by running wide of the curve on the outside or venture too close to the inside and occasionally some real hard braking. But this was only on visible corners…on blinders he was well in control.

At the dam for a few clicks…below and over.

A glance on the other side of the dam, and eyes get a fix….a barren land with water left behind in huge depressions and bare trees in the middle of it. We could spot tyre marks of the trucks that went uptil some distance after which it was trail-hunting to get the bike till the place. Alkesh on the bike and me on foot, both in opposite directions.
Well I did find a narrow path in between rocks. Yellings brought Alkesh back, took over the bike and was on the job of maneuvering the machine between some extremely narrow passages. But then finally we were there and it seemed like absolute heaven. My phone was on the job clicking the serene environment.

Spend a lot of time at the place and I was back on the job pulling the bike out of slender channels following the tyre marks left behind while coming.

We were rolling on the tarmac again with the 220 getting taste of the tight hairpins after its last adventure on the Saat Paayri ghats at Toranmal.

You can never get tired of Lavasa….the tight corners make it thrilling and more exciting everytime you come here.
The ascend was complete and we touch the entrance of the Lavasa city. In the meanwhile Alkesh had a breather, I went around to click the wonderful roads.

We left Lavasa for Mulshi and after a mixed bag of good and bouncy roads, we’re down the lake with our bare feet feeling the crystal clear waters of Mulshi Lake.

I felt I was in paradise, with the water so pure at your feet, the hills on the other side full of greenery, the blue sky with its cloud friends and except for the breeze singing in your ears…there was not a decibel around- only if I could spot angels flying around…..Losing oneself in the hurricane life on a city, you realize your very existence when you’re at a place as this.

Didn’t feel like getting my feet out, but with hunger and the schedule to see more places, we had to bid adieu to this beautiful place.

Alkesh in a Dakar Rally mood was ripping away to glory despite the bad roads….my butts like a seismograph could feel the earthquake generated by the rolling wheels of the 220. It got too high on my Richter scale and a restaurant compelled a halt…a halt to bring back the sensation down there and of course for some food.

Didn’t want to have the same old snacky stuff we get here in the city, hence ordered a Pitthala Thaali, while Alkesh made up with two portions of Poha. Steaming hot pitthala, spicy kharda, pickles, bhaakri and rest made up for an awesome lunch. Till the time I was gorging it down my gullet- I completely forgot about my stiff bottom.

Stopover on Tamhini ghats for clicks.

Thankfully it was end of the torture as the roads were good till Mangaon.

Mad traffic at Mangaon and with the sun inching closer to the horizon, I took over the bike and quickened up the pace to reach Diveagar before the sun disappears. Roads were good except for some 3-4 kms of bouncers, I could easily sustain speeds around 80-90 keeping an eye on the sun precisely measuring its day-end journey. All plans flopped as we hit a total jam in the Diveagar market. By the time we reached the beach, the sun was gone after its day’s duty. But nonetheless, the light on the horizon was still delightful.

Alkesh fulfilled his wish of riding on the beach and was all over the place like a kid let loose after a year’s confinement.

Looking at the watch- it was past 7.30 p.m. and time to head back, but not before a visit to the Golden Ganesh Temple- couldnt capture as photography was prohibited.

I took over again and it was an easy paced ride till Mangaon. Had tea to keep fresh for the rest of the journey. With a 89 kg pillion behind, the high beam of the P220 was pointing towards the nests on the trees. Was a bit difficult to ride- the projectors couldn’t stand up to the blinding high beam of the oncoming traffic….aaargh, wish I had HIDs. Small halts for refuel, tea and visor swaps made us touch Vashi at 12.30. Took over my P150 from Revel’s place who was fast asleep by then….. felt bad seeing to have left it behind. Reached home in half an hour and followed by Alkesh’s confirmation sms of having reached- it was curtains and a satisfying sleep after a wonderful days journey.

Our route and distance:
Mumbai-Lonavla-Pune-Mutha-Lavasa-Mutha-Mulshi-Tamhinighat-Mangaon-Diveagar Beach-Mangaon-Pen-Panvel-Mumbai: 595 kms