Ride Date: 4th January, 2015
What do you do on the first Sunday of the year??
No prizes for guessing.
You ride…. You warm up your saddle and ride… no matter how long or how small it is.
The company of certain people make the ride even better.
Ashu planned a ride to Velas beach on the konkan coast, it was primarily an overnight plan which got shelved into a single day plan thanks to a working Saturday in my office. Chintan, now being my roommate, knew about the plan and joined in.
Ashu was starting from Pune and Chintan and I were starting from Airoli, and we were supposed to meet at Mangaon at 9:15 A.M. We were aware of the condition of NH17 so we decided to start at around 7:00 A.M. and meet Ashu at Mangaon. The ride till Panvel was super quick, with just a small sweet thing to remember. One of the toll plaza workers on the newly opened Kharghar toll plaza, slightly held his fluorescent jacket with one hand and gave me a thumbs up, it took me a couple of seconds to realize that he did it because I was wearing a similar jacket on top of my riding Jacket. I wanted to find a good spot to capture the sunrise hence, was kind of in a hurry as, but unfortunately I found none and soon we were on NH17. I decided to ride on till we found a good spot to click. However I soon gave up the thought as I started feeling that I would miss capturing the sunrise if I don’t stop soon. It was still foggy in the distance.
NH17 was moderately busy at that time, it was around 7:45 A.M. by the time we finished clicking. Both Chintan and I have ridden on the NH17 recently so we knew it was laden with deadly potholes. However we were able to maintain good speeds and soon I took another stop to click the fog filled fields and the horizon filled with the early morning rays being emanated from the sun lazily pulling itself up. This was just after the toll plaza that suddenly comes up on NH17.
The road at times turns to worse and cars and heavy vehicles slow down drastically to maneuver the potholes thereby slowing us down also. However we were able to maintain decent speeds and I indicated Chintan to stop and we stopped. Actually I assumed that we had reached Mangaon but Chintan told me that Mangaon main junction is another 10 kms away. It was already 9:15 A.M. but thanks to the improved road we reached Mangaon in a jiffy. I stopped by the side of the road to attend a call from Ashu, and after describing put locations we met up. Following the customary greetings we decided to have breakfast as all of us were hungry. Ashu suggested that we fork out from NH17 to the road to Velas and then stop for breakfast. Since I was running low on fuel I told them to go ahead and stop somewhere within 5 kms from the junction at Mangaon, while I would fill up and catch up with them.
I went a couple of kms backwards to fill up in the HP petrol pump. Thanks to a malfunction in the age old pump I got some extra petrol. I took the road to Srivardhan which also leads to Velas. Soon I spotted my fellow rider’s bikes at hotel Moon Palace, a small restaurant cum lodge by the side of the road. Once We settled down for breakfast and ordered some poha and chai, we started discussing the route. I had actually not paid much attention to the route given the fact that Ashu had planned it. Once I saw the route I realized that I had been on the same route a couple of weeks back during the anniversary of Naked wolves Mumbai and Pune. I didn’t want to do the same route again. I told Ashu that I don’t want to do this route again to which he responded that he was open to other options. I suggested we do a route which was not clearly visible on the google maps in my mobile and which I had planned to do during my Tarkarli ride, but couldn’t.
The route ran kind of parallel to Kashedi ghats, and would connect us to NH17 at the southern end of the ghats. The interesting part was the mobile google maps was showing an incomplete route suggesting that there is no road in a particular stretch. This was good enough to get Ashu’s attention. We decided that we would drop the Velas Beach plan and do this instead.
After a relaxed breakfast we started back towards NH17 and headed towards Poladpur, because that was the point where our route would start. Looking at the map I kind of guessed that this would be the road that I always saw but never explored, this was the same road on the right side after the small bridge towards Mahabaleshwar from Poladpur. Thanks to the wonderfully smooth stretch of NH17 we reached Poladpur in no time. Ashu wanted to get his tyre pressure checked and we stopped to look for a place to get that done. We were pretty sure that the area we were entering won’t have any restaurants, hence we brought a bottle of water also.
The initial stretch of the road looked promising, full of loose stones and dust with a bit of uphill incline. Ashu as leading us and I was riding behind Chintan. While riding I noticed one thing, I hardly felt like stopping to click. Maybe the absence of the green color made me skip the otherwise compulsory photo stops. Everything was so green-less barring some trees. We were supposed to follow the straight route and most of the times we had to take the road on the right whenever we came across a Y junction or a fork. Gradually the road improved and we could maintain decent speeds. We were supposed to cross Ganjawane and then head towards Paithan and get connected to NH17 near Khed.
While riding there were occasions wherein we could see the NH17 running along with us on the other mountain. We kept on riding and after a while I thought to stop for some clicks. The road and the view was not to my liking but a picture is better than nothing.
I guess I was the slowest one among the lot, every time Ashu and Chintan had to wait for me. After riding through some villages the road became pretty smooth. We were riding at moderate speeds. We crossed Ganjawane and while riding ahead we saw a small road on our right. Ashu and I exchanged looks and decided to skip it and continue with the already decided route. Most of the time we explore whatever we see on our way, but this was not the day for it I guess. After a while we decided to stop and have a look at the GPS just to confirm the route. We were surprised to see our location, we were not at all on the decided route and had deviated a long way from it. Seemed like we missed some right turn and continued straight.
Looking at the GPS we understood that we needed to cross Paithan and the take a left turn somewhere. We started back and reached the same turn which we skipped and fortunately we saw a local and asked him for directions and he told us that we need to take that road to reach Khed. He also added that the road was in good condition. This came as a surprise for us as the mobile google maps didn’t even have the road, and that was the basis of this plan, to explore the route that was not displayed in the map. Thanking him we proceeded.
The road was actually in great shape, I can safely say that this was the best stretch of road we came across after leaving NH17. We stopped for a much deserved photo break.
The road soon turned from smooth tarmac to an uneven surface of tarmac-less gravel. View although not green was good. During our break we discussed that this would be a very good route to do in monsoons. The road pointed towards a mountain wall with a small temple in the distance and some houses.
We were descending now and passed a small village and then we started climbing up again. Ashu and Chintan stopped at a point and I decided to go ahead and check out some more points to click. It was almost 10 mins still they didn’t catch up with me. I started to worry and stopped. Luckily the point where I stopped gave me a clear view of the area where Ashu and Chintan were doing a photo-shoot. I decided to move ahead and stop over at some point where I could see something to click.
There was a village ahead and I stopped just before it to give myself a chance to click it. I did some time pass and soon my fellow riders came over and we started again.
The remaining ride was pretty simple and thankfully uneventful. Chintan and Ashu again stopped at a point and I went ahead. There was Y junction in the road again full of loose gravel on one side and some graphitti by the locals on the other road. The person riding in front always stops at the junctions to make sure all take the correct route. I was the first person to reach this spot, I waited for some time but these people didn’t turn up and I don’t know why I started ahead and kept riding until I came across a small bridge on the right side of the road.
Soon we got connected to NH 17 and decided to stop for lunch before we hit Kashedi. We stopped at a relatively less crowded dhaba. While having breakfast Ashu had specified that he would do this route only if we return via Pune so that he has company till Pune. But since we had already got late he suggested that we should continue direct to Mumbai rather than coming via Pune. Future ride plans and past ride memories seemed to be the best appetizer before the lunch arrives.
Finally after lunch we started towards Mumbai and Pune respectively. The rest of the ride was mundane barring the kashedi gahts which always gets you alive.
The funny thing is once you are back from the ride you feel like riding again.
See you soon with another ride blog