It took me 27 years to understand that touring on 2 wheels is my passion, that I should take a break from my busy schedule and meet my grandparents time to time and that I can achieve both the goals together. So on the first Saturday of September-2016, I decided to leave for Devrukh (my mom’s native place). The plan was to reach Devrukh by Saturday afternoon, spent a night there and leave for Chiplun (my dad’s native place) the next day i.e. Sunday and ride back to Pune on the same day.
Sometime during the planning phase, it occurred to me that my ex-colleague Swapnil’s grandparents also hail from the same geography. The moment he heard the plan, he was up for it.
Post the long Pune-Kanyakumari-Pune trip in January and the short Purandar trip (I am yet to write about it), I didn’t get a chance to ride my bike away from the city chaos. Riding the bike on highways is a soothing experience, unlike the stressful city commutes. Like every other trip, the week before this one also went in anticipation and excitement. I like such weeks where you are eagerly awaiting for the weekend dreaming about the long bike ride!
On Saturday morning, we started off at 5 am and took the same route that I did with Shohrat for the 1st day of the Kanyakumari ride which got me a nostalgic feeling. Unlike last time, now I had the LED Aux lights fitted on my bike as the stock headlamp is pretty useless on highways. With road well illuminated in the dark, I was able to carry good speed and was really enjoying the ride in the dark. Switching to Motul oil had really made the difference as the engine felt smooth at high revs.
Just before the Khanadala ghat (Satara) we stopped for breakfast. We sipped some hot tea along with poha watching the sun slowly rising above the green fields. Back on the road, the traffic was slowly increasing. Unlike city traffic that is getting worse day by day, the traffic on the highway is still better. Riding the motorcycle on highways can be immense fun if you respect each and every vehicle around you. Being geared from head to toe and with the saddle bag mounted on the bike, you do get noticed and sometimes become a point of attraction and discussion.
By 8.30 we reached Karad where exited the Pune – Banglore highway and resumed our ride on the two-way single road towards Kokrud-Malkapur. The road was not in the best condition but having a loaded saddle bag does help to maintain the stability. The road may have been narrow but it was passing through green fields on both the sides. By 11 am we are climbing down the Amba ghat heading for a stop at Swapnil’s Mom’s house at Sakharpa.
Swapnil’s grandmom was feeling ecstatic after seeing him after close to a decade. There are very few things in this world that make your heart go warm and grandparents showering their love on you is certainly one of them.
After 45 mins or so, overwhelmed with the emotions, we left for Devrukh and reached my Nana’s place on time for lunch. Post lunch, my grandfather suggested us to ride to Ganpatipule and be back by dinner. Taking his advice we left for Ganapatipule; he was eager to join us but the dark clouds in the sky made him change his mind. We rode barely for a kilometer and it started pouring heavily. Amidst the heavy rain, my excitement to ride to Ganpatipule quickly faded off and I started considering the option to ride back but Swpanil insisted that “Abhi Nahi, toh Kabhi Nahi (It is Now, Or Never)”.
I knew that my DSG jacket and pant won’t hold much of the rain but it was a real test of my new Track Breed shoes that I bought from Lets Gear Up after having pathetic experience with Biking Brotherhood shoes. The rain water did sip inside the shoes until I adjust my riding pant to cover the top of the shoe. However till I realized this, it was too late and the shoes had become mini swimming pools wherein my feet were terribly uncomfortable. Luckily, just 30 km before Ganpatipule, the rain stopped and the Sun came out. My ride was spoiled by the thoughts of damaging the new shoes and I was trying to come up with ways to rescuing them.On the way, I bought a tissue roll and some talcum powder which I thought of using once we reach Ganapatipule.
By 5 pm we were in Ganapatipule right outside the prestigious temple. They were hardly any visitors and the fact that we had the temple all for ourselves was quite surprising. Once out of our riding gear, we went inside the temple turn by turn so that one of us could look after our belongings. While Swapnil was inside, I made small balls of tissue paper and stuffed them inside the shoes hoping that the shoes will dry a bit and will be more bearable to wear. Before putting the shoes back on my feet, I sprinkled a generous amount of talcum powder on my feet that worked quite well till the end of the day.
After the temple visit, we went on the beach and sat on the benches staring at the sea and the sight of the sun going down. Just after the sunset we thought of having an early dinner so were looking for a good restaurant to treat ourselves with Kokan delicacies. Unfortunately, 6.30 seemed to be too early for folks in Ganapatipule to serve dinner. Dropping the idea dinner, we fueled ourselves up with the biscuits that we were carrying. We were just about to leave and when a guy on his bike approached us with a smile. This guy was Dhritiman Chakraborty who had rode alone from Banglore with his KTM Duke 390. We had a friendly chat wherein he told us that he will be riding further northwards the next day. The road from
The road from Nivali phata (the exit point on Mumbai-Goa Highway) till Ganpatipule is a bit unusual. The road is in good condition but is covered with barren land on both the sides. There are negligible houses compared to the overcrowded cities. One of the positive of being on the bike is that you get 100% experience and feel of the surroundings when compared to being in a car where the percentage drops to 40! The view from the tiny helmet visor feels extravagant compared to that from the window of a car. The same road while returning back in the dark was a nightmare. The road was in great condition for most of the part but without the white markings. Hence, a majority of the folks drove dangerously fast from the opposite with high beam ON blinding us completely and forcing us to rely on our judgment and luck to ride.
Because of the LED Aux lights, I was able to see the road (not completely though) but Swapnil was having a terrible time. For most of the part, he was used my bike’s tail lamp as a reference point to ride. Having been grown up in the city and being used to lights, people and noise around, the ride within the dark woods between Ganpatipule to Devrukh was scary, to say the least. I was sure of the road but still used to consult the locals making sure that I was not overconfident. We reached my Nana’s place by 9 pm just on time for dinner. Before the dinner, we made a point to stuff newspaper roles inside our shoes and leave them overnight to absorb the water that had sipped in the afternoon due to the rain.
After the much-needed dinner with family, both of us went to sleep remembering all the events in the day and feeling content about the manner in which we spent it !