22nd November 2012
Finally The Day had arrived, the day when I set off for the ride of my life, the day when I hit the open roads, the day when I head out of this concrete jungle. I was informed by Wrangler officials that my flag off would be from Wrangler Exclusive showroom in Infinity mall, Malad at 12 noon.
After an elongated photo session I finally started out for the ride…
3:30 P.M.: I reached Panvel, and was disappointed to see a long traffic jam near the Expressway start. I decided to stop at McDonald and grab a bite as I hadn’t had any proper food since morning. I wanted to ride as far as possible, but at the same time I had promised myself that I would ride safe and ride healthy.
It was already late and I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover any distance today, hence I decided to stop at Lonavala, which I have never done in my life. I took the usual highway till Lonavala. The ride was a normal ride, I stopped at Khandala ghat for a photobreak. While I was clicking pics, I saw a truck struggling its way up. I then started to ponder, are these truck drivers the ‘true wanderers’, does wandering need to be done on two wheels itself? Why can’t someone become a truck driver and wander around? I looked at the driver, he smiled and I reciprocated with bigger smile.
Without any further delay I started off and was soon on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. I don’t particularly like the expressway may be because its bumpy. But for sure this is one marvelous piece of architecture. the fastest means of road transport between Mumbai and Pune.
5:00 P.M:: I reached Lonavala, my destination for the day, took out some cash from the ATM and then headed to look for a hotel. Then I was like, it’s just 5:00 PM, I can ride for at least 2 more hours which means I can cover at least 100 kms. So I dropped the idea of spending the night in Lonavala.
Now the question was where should I go?
I choose Aamby Valley. I decided to spend the night there and then head out in the morning. I had never thought that I will even think of spending a night so close to Kharghar, but as luck would have it. Without wasting any more time I headed for Aamby Valley. As soon as I took the turn for Aamby, a guy in KTM Duke 200 zoomed passed me. Then suddenly he slowed down a bit ahead. I kept moving at my speed and overtook him, then after a moment he again overtook me. I just laughed inside my helmet and carried on.
I am somehow not very comfortable with smooth highways, so I started to wander. I guess this is one thing that comes naturally to me.
Wandering Starts NOW!!!!!
The sun was rapidly moving down into the horizon, I was like “chill dude, I have to ride, why are you in a hurry”. But nature has its ways, hence I moved ahead and wanted to find some shelter for the night. I thought I will not stop at tiger point, but the sunset forced me to stop there. I was surprised to see dozens of tourists even on a working day over there.
After a few clicks I moved towards Aamby, I knew that a room in Aamby would cost me a bomb and I would not be able to afford it, still I moved on hoping to find some shelter in the nearby villages. On my way I saw two kids coming down from Aamby, most probably they were working in Aamby. I asked them about options for shelter other than Aamby. One of them said that there is a place where the daily workers stay. I asked him if I would be allowed there. He replied “It is a place where labourers stay so you won’t be comfortable.” I thanked him and moved ahead.
I came to a junction where the left road would take me to Aamby and the right one would take to some villages. I found a shop in the junction; on inquiring about shelter he pointed his finger towards a house and said that I can find a place to stay there.
On reaching the place, I found it was all dark, with lights on only in the first floor. In a few minutes someone emerged out of the darkness and I told him about my plans to stay there for the night. He directed me towards a sofa and told me “ wait here, I will go and speak to the manager.”
After about 10-15 mins he came back with his manager Mr. Deepak. Deepak informed me that staying there would not be possible as the entire building is occupied by labourers. He said that there are around 300 people sleeping in this building at night. Most of them are at work now and will return by 12. And moreover it wont be safe for my luggage also, as someone or the other would steal it. He further commented that I can find something a bit ahead towards Lonavala, and he even rode with me to help me find a place, but alas the hotel where we went said that they do not have rooms. I thanked Deepak and started back to Lonavala.
On my way I saw a resort. I went in and enquired about the rates from the watchman. He said that the minimum cost is Rs 4500/-. But fortunately the manager came in there and I explained him about the True Wanderers thing and all and after much bargain he settled down for Rs 2500/-. I agreed as that was the best option, given that i didn’t want to go to Lonavala again.
I quickly un-strapped my saddle bags from the bike and went into my cottage,started seeing the pics for the day and started blogging. After all that was what I was supposed to do for the next 7 days. RIDE….. EAT…. BLOG…. SLEEP…..REPEAT
I guess I was the only one there, who seemed to have lost his way and ended up there. But As they say “True Wanderers are free to wander, but are never lost”
I was satisfied with the ride I did today, Although I would have preferred to ride more, but still I thought that stopping at this point would be the best as I had decided that on Day 2 I will ride from Aamby to Tahmini Ghats through a not-so-commonly-used route and stay away from the highway as decided.
Total Kms done on Day 1: 200, out of which 110 was to and fro distance to the flag-off point.