19th September 2012
Day 4: The Unexpected Scenic Return Journey.
Plan was to start from Goa at around 5:30 AM and reach Mumbai before 10:00 PM, however, nothing worked as per plan.
The day started really early for me, to be precise 3:30.
Reason: Mosquitos. There was a window in the room which was supposed to be shut all the time, but I was unaware of it and opened it before going to sleep. At around 2:30 AM, I could sense some insects biting me, I tried to ignore them and go back to sleep, as I knew that I have a long day ahead and I need proper rest for it. However things got out of control and I didn’t get any sleep till 3:15 AM.
I decided to start riding without wasting time. I was on the saddle at 4:00 AM.I was pretty dark till then. I decided to ride slowly as I was not very sure of the route and had to locate the direction boards. After coming to Margaon I thought that I will ride through Ponda city as the route I had taken while coming to Colva Beach might not be safe at this hour. I don’t know what struck me, despite deciding against it, I took the same route that avoids Ponda city. I came to a junction, which I hadn’t noticed while going to Colva, now I was confused which out of the four roads was the correct one. At this hour it was difficult to find a person who could have guided me. I then took out my mobile and switched on the GPS, it showed me a direction, but thanks to my superb direction-sense I ended up in someone’s house, took a U-turn and came back to the same junction. This time I found a person, probably a truck driver and asked him directions for Belgaum.
He gave me proper detailed directions and also told me about a shortcut after the Goa border. I was riding very very slow, I was mostly doing 50-60 kmph since the start, probably because the road was completely new to me and I was a bit apprehensive about it. The atmosphere was very spooky, not even a single soul around. It was around 5:15 AM when I joined NH748.
I was very hungry by now, as I didn’t have anything since morning and started to look for some eatery en route. Not even a single shop was open at this hour. The hunger kept on increasing but having no choice I kept moving ahead, stopped once for a photo break.
The well lit but desolate roads…
Upon joining the NH748 things had started to get better, I could see other vehicles on the road. The milestones suggested that Mulem was the next big town. I decided to rush to Mulem, hoping that it would have some shops open and would offer me an opportunity to fill my empty stomach. By the time I reached Mulem it was around 6:00 and it was still dark and foggy. A few meters ahead I noticed lots of cars and bikes parked alongside the road and lots of people walking around. Upon reaching there I saw that there was a tea stall, which was stocked with biscuits and tea. Without thinking for even a split second I parked my bike and went in there. I repeat I was damn hungry, I ignored the strange looks others were throwing at me, courtesy the yellow bike and riding gear, I ordered a packet of good day biscuits and tea, I guess it devoured them within a couple of mins and the other people again started looking at me. I ordered one more round and then decided to move ahead. Luckily things were falling in place now, I had filled my empty stomach and the streets were now filled with daylight. I knew that I have already wasted a lot of time (as per my one km per minute calculation) and now the plan was to cover up some distance quickly.
I could see some boards showing directions to “Mulem National Park” but give the speeds I was doing I wasn’t left with much choice other than riding. The road soon turned into a wonderful series of bends and I got a feeling that I have to stop again for some clicks… I stopped once to click the turns in the road and then moved ahead, soon after a couple of kms, I noticed something on my right and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I was like “FCUK, this is awesome, it can’t get any better” I had to stop, parked my bike at the edge of the road and pulled out my camera and clicked this:
But I wasn’t satisfied with the capture and started walking back and forth for a better viewpoint, but alas there was none. I again geared up and started moving at speeds less than 10 kmph, as I was hardly able to focus on the road. Again after a hundred meter I found another spot but couldn’t capture anything worthwhile. I moved ahead and then found the actual viewpoint. It was truly one of the bestest sights I have ever seen, the huge mountains covered with clouds and I was above them. It was a sight to behold. I made futile attempts to capture the view in camera. This is all I could get.
A HDR of the scenic view
After a few mins I came back to reality and saw two tucks drivers washing their trucks there. I enquired about the route, they said ‘if you want to go to Belgaum don’t take this highway, immediately after the border check post, you will find a small road on your left where nobody will be going, take that route, that is shorter and much more better than the highway, and since you are on bike you will have no issues on that road. The highway is nowadays littered with potholes and you have heavy traffic’.
Thanked them for their advice and moved ahead. This road was supposed to take me to Khanapur form where I would join the NH748 again and head to Belgaum.
It was already 7:40 AM and I had hardly covered any distance.I started to increase my speed and tackle the corners at good speeds, but soon I had to stop as I had reached the Goa-Karnataka border and the cop indicated me to stop.
Cop: How many bottles are you carrying?
Cop: bottles of alcohol.
Cop: park you bike and open your bag.
Me: Sir I have packed it with great difficulty, and trust me I don’t have any bottles.
He didn’t listen to me and I had to open up my bag to make his believe me.
Before leaving I said “thanks for wasting 20 precious minutes of mine”
As directed by the truck drivers I took the road on the left. The road was not in very good condition, but it made me happy. It was a desolate road, no vehicles around, and yes no tarmac for the first few kms. Stopped for a photo break and then moved ahead.
The road was really amazing, after a few kms of gravel-ish road it turned into smooth tarmac. I was easily doing 100-120 kmph again. This was the first time in the day that I was doing such speeds. But Nature had other plans. I soon came to a point where there were green probably-rice fields on both sides, and the fields were barricaded with a fence. I pulled out my camera bag and started clicking. Saw a villager coming asked for his permission and clicked him also. After clicking showed him the snap and boy he was elated.
The cleanest NS around..:P
Finally I was happy that I could click a good pic of the spider web… this was a dream pic for me…
I was standing at the same spot for about 45 mins, trying to get some good shots, when suddenly my inner voice said “sir you have to reach Mumbai also and you have done hardly 100 kms in ~270 mins. I then decide that I won’t stop any more till I reach Khanapur. I started riding at good speeds again. I repeat, I love riding through forest roads, roads having thick canopy on both sides. After 7-8 kms the road again started to get bad, I didn’t mind it though, as along with bad road came another spot where Nature forced me to stop and make another fruitless attempt to capture its beauty in the camera sensor. Nevertheless I clicked a few, this one is one of them. I wish the pic could tell you guys what the place actually looked like.
The roads after this point were good till the gate of ‘Bhimagad Wildlife Sanctuary’ and allowed me to cover the distance very quickly. I crossed a couple of points where a handful of people were waiting for some mode of commute, may be a bus or something. This made me think, we get all the facilities in city, we have trains, buses, cars, etc etc, and just imagine about these people, they have a couple of buses from the govt. serving their daily commuting needs. Hard life I must say.
I reached gate of ‘Bhimagad Wildlife Sanctuary’ at around 8:45 AM. The roads ahead of this were really bad, well most of us would say so.
Now the board says that Belgaum is 47 kms from here. That means starting at 4:00 AM I had covered a total of 100 kms in 5 hours i.e. 300 mins, an average speed of 20 kmph. I now knew that I will be super late than my plan. Then I decided that I will not take any breaks till Belgaum, apart from asking directions, and ride as fast as possible depending on the road condition. I reached Belgaum at around 9:50 AM and after confirming the directions I joined NH4. This was such a relief for me. Now I knew that I can make up the lost time. Atleast I can make my average speed 35 kmph for the entire return trip. Within some time I started feeling hungry, so I stopped at the road-side dhaba “SriRam Dhaba” near Ghatprabha reservoir. It was around 25 kms from Belgaum.
The kitchen didn’t at all make me comfortable, but still I decided to have something over there and then ride back home. Even the jugs were chained to the table. After having puri-bhajji and a 500 ml of thumbs up. I thought of clicking some pics as these would most probably be the last pics of the trip.
I started back at around 10:15 AM and was instantaneously doing 120+ kmph, hats off to the Pulsar NS, it is super fast while accelerating. Now the plan was to ride continuously. I had to drop the plan within the next 10-15 mins as I started feeling sleepy, thanks to the enormous amount of sleep I had last night. Decided not to take any chances, stopped my bike and spotted a small tree with a good layer of grass underneath it, yeah that was my bed, decided to take a power nap, as that was the best solution I could think of. I was not sure how far would I need to go for a coffee shop, hence power nap it was. A villager came and asked me what am I trying to do , I just said that I need some sleep. Strapped my bag and helmet to my leg and went to sleep. I guess I needed it badly as I didn’t even realize how quickly I went into deep sleep. Soon I woke up and saw it was already 10:45 AM. So I had a good sleep of about 10-15 mins. I was feeling very refreshed.
Plan was to utilize this fresh energy and ride as far as possible before the next break. Started off quickly.
10:55 A.M. : I saw a milestone Pune – 275 kms. I kept doing 1205+ kmph continuously, and decided not to stop before 100 kms. I kept pushing myself. After about 110 kms the low-fuel indicator started glowing, I pulled over at the nearest petrol pump and tanked up and started again. I was just the road and me and noting else mattered. I kept on telling myself that lets ride a bit more cross Karad, then will stop. Crossed Karad, then I told myself that lets cross Satara and then stop for lunch.
1:00 P.M. : I saw a milestone Pune – 90 kms. I was happy with the speed I had covered the distance, so decided to slow down a bit. For the next 10-20 mins I was doing sub 120 kmph speeds.
Soon I realized that I will be home even before sunset. It was a good feeling. I stopped for lunch after Surur. I knew I would be riding fast as the roads were very well known to me from this point. Took atleast a 60 min lunch break, got rid of the tiredness that had crept into me. Refuelled at the nesrest petrol bunk and started the final leg of my journey, plan was to take the next break after Dehu-road. This part as usual was uneventful and boring. I was lucky that I didn’t get much traffic I guess if I woyld have been on the same stretch at around 5:00 PM things would have been completely different. I however took a break after about 40 kms to release the pressure of my urinary bladder.
As mentioned before the roads were pretty well know to me and once I neared Pune, I recollected the oops moment of Day 1 and said to myself ‘ no matter what happens, you are going to ride slow in the diversions’.
I do Pune- Mumbai almost every weekend, hence didn’t stop at Lonavala also, headed home directly. I kept on lowering the speed as I came closer to my destination, I had a fantastic, safe ride till now, didn’t want to ruin it now. I guess I was home by around 6:10 PM.
The ride ended, but even after parking my bike, I didn’t feel like getting off it. It felt like as if it was just yesterday when I started the journey, I was so apprehensive about it, and now after ~1870 kms I was still hungry for more. But I had to stay happy with what I got.
I would really thank Bajaj for the Pulsar 200NS. It was rock stable during the entire ride, the handling inspires confidence and blah blah blah… 😛
Sometimes we underestimate ourselves, sometimes we need to throw away our inhibitions, sometimes we need to do something that makes us believe ‘ yes I can do it’, sometimes we need to take paths that others don’t , sometimes we need to thank ourselves for taking those paths, sometimes all we need to do is trust our machines, sometimes we just need to become one with the machine and the road, sometimes we just need to let ourselves free and lets our minds wander, wandering that is not limited by any physical limitation.
Would like to end the log by quoting James and Lars from Metallica \m/
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
And with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave
Call me what you will
But I’ll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll redefine anywhere
Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home
See you soon with may be another solo triplog