It was an early January morning. We were managing through our lecture and Yash says, ‘I might get an R15 v2.0’. I was shocked! Upon asking why, he said he needed an upgrade from his present bike even though he loved it.
Over the next few days we explored different options for his new bike. Finally on the 10th of February, he bought himself the Pulsar 200 NS. It was a brilliant day for him, but the bug had been passed on to me.
I decided it was time for me to upgrade as well and I needed it too since touring meant pushing my Honda Stunner to it’s very extreme. The CBR 250R C-ABS was my choice as I thought it hit the sweet spot. That is when this idea came to mind.
We started deciding that a big trip was due, since the small ones weren’t as entertaining as the kilometres piled on. Yash came up with the idea of riding to Daman. It was at perfect distance and Gujarat roads are absolutely brilliant. It was final then, we were to go to Daman at the end of the semester. We’d already ridden to the coast of Konkan and the ride was very successful.
But the semester still had 3 months to go. Those were spent day dreaming. We had this crazy idea to ride at night since that was something none of us had done. We thought about how much fun riding parallel on a deserted Gujarat highway would be.
During this time, one of Yash’s friends, Suraj, said he would also be joining.
Long story short, I got my CBR and the run-in was complete. The date was decided as the 1st of June (more on this later). We decided to leave early in the morning (late in the night?) at 3am to try our best to avoid as much traffic through the city as possible. Bookings were made at Hotel Emerald, Daman for 2 nights meanwhile also considering Hotel Sovereign as Suraj thought Emerald’s prices didn’t include taxes. The confusion was sorted out and the rooms were booked on the 29th.
Now, I was deciding on buying the Viaterra Claw from DSG since a while but when I finally went there, they were out of stock. Had to make-do with a cheap saddle bag for bought for 1600 INR from Probiker. I say ‘cheap’ because the handles were made of thick ribbon and it just felt like it would give away any moment. There was nothing except ‘sports’ written on it. With the fear of the saddle bags getting burnt, as many people have shared their experiences on this matter, I had no option on such short notice so I made my peace with it. Got nitrogen filled in the tire, a little more than the recommended level. Got the fuel topped up. Nothing like a full tank of petrol eh?
We (Yash and me) had our last exam today. I managed to set my routine for waking up at 12:00am since the last thing I wanted was fatigue or drowsiness to settle in while riding all the way. But the excitement just didn’t let it happen.
Somehow, Yash and I gave the last exam and unlike other people who were excited, I was both excited as well as eager to go home and prepare.
After reaching home, I packed my clothes, snacks, water and Gatorade and a basic medkit in the saddle bag.
This is when I realized something. My bike had no saree guard and even though I despise that ugly piece of metal, I did require it or my saddle bags would definitely touch the tires while leaning. I did manage a ‘jugaad’ by tying a generous amount of rope all the way around the tail lights, pillion grab rail and both the rear foot pegs. (On asking the Honda ASC guys after the trip, they said the saree guard needs to be purchased separately, which seemed a bit odd). All other preparations were made and it was time for me to sleep, which even though I hadn’t slept throughout the previous night, was somehow hard to come by.
Finally, I dozed off at about 7:00pm. Yash, on the other hand ran behind schedule and could get to bed only by 10pm. However, both of us managed to get up on time, which is what matters.
Although the heading says 1st June, it was pretty much the night of the 31st. Even though the alarm was set for 1:00am, I was up by 12:30am, and Yash, by 1am. I checked everything one last time and had a bath. It was time to put of my gear, the jacket, riding pants etc. and with every passing second I was feeling like the dream was about to come true, one steady kilometre at a time. I called up Yash to tell him I was leaving for his place and asked him to call Suraj up as well. Next thing, the saddle bags were fastened securely keeping in mind that the weight should be more towards the left side as I didn’t want to risk the bags getting burned. Said my goodbyes to my mother while the bike was idling beside me with the parking lights illuminating the dark street ahead. I sat on the bike and went towards the gate which the watchman closes at night. It’s always an amazing feeling when I ride my bike out even during the day, so it’s natural that his eyes were wide open when I woke him up by flashing my pass light and he saw me in the gear and the saddle bags on.
I calmly made my way to Yash’s house, enjoying the cool breeze as I went along. The streets were almost deserted save for the occasional Splendour guy near the local ‘tapri’ for a smoke. I reached at his place at exactly 2.58am knowing that we had to leave at 3am. Suraj hadn’t come yet, which was expected.
Yash was fastening the rope around his bag. He had taken a travel bag which was contoured in such a way that the ropes were tied easily under his NS. It wasn’t long before Suraj also joined in and we spent a good 10mintues trying to figure out a way to adjust his bag in a proper way. Now something to be noted here is, Suraj just had a basic helmet on, Yash had a jacket and elbow+knee guards and an LS2 helmet. I was wearing a pair of riding pants, something I would pay for badly in a couple of days. Finally, we checked the tire pressure and everything was okay except Yash’s Bike had a little less pressure in one of his tires.
‘Agla stop seedha Lonavla’ was the last words I heard from them and with that we rode out of Yash’s colony on the deserted streets of Pune as the pale yellow street lights shone on the road.
Somewhere, deep down under all the protective gear, I had a feeling, ‘THIS IS IT.’
As we rode along, we couldn’t go faster than 80kmph as it was pitch dark, even with the street lights on while exiting Pune on the highway towards Lonavla, a popular hill-station. Nothing more than the occasional truck was seen on the highway.
Now, I had only revved my bike till 5k RPM during the run-in, which allowed me to touch speeds of 100-110. After the first service, I didn’t ride much, since I had to concentrate on the on-going exams. This was especially exciting for me, because now I could push it further and experience speeds in excess of 110kmph. As we had decided earlier, Yash’s bike’s rear tire had low pressure so we would stop at the next petrol pump to refill the air. By the time we actually got out of Pune, I had started pushing the left side of the saddle bag down repeatedly, in an effort to save the right side from touching the silencer. I also asked Suraj a couple of times to keep an eye out.
Finally, at around 4:00am, we reached a petrol pump at Lonavla where we decided to take a break for a couple of minutes. I got off to see the bags. The saddle bag to the right was a good inch above the silencer.
The petrol pump was deserted except for one guy right at the back who was probably asleep in his chair. Yash decided against getting his tire topped up. Instead he said he was feeling a bit hungry and drowsy. This was a matter of concern, because we were just about an hour into our ride and he hadn’t slept for the past 2 nights in a row. So we decided to look for a place where we could grab a quick bite.
We spotted a shop about 5 minutes away which was open, remarkably, since the streets of Lonavla were pretty much deserted. Sadly, he had nothing except packaged food. I wasn’t very hungry myself because I’d had a bite to eat before I’d left but I could understand the importance of fresh hot food to a hungry person. We moved on to find a thela with a few locals gathered around for a cup of early morning tea. We decided to take a break. Yash and Suraj ordered a plate of egg bhurji and paav. After the meal, a cup of tea was due. The tea, sadly, was very watery. Over the cup of tea we discussed how people mix all kinds of crap in tea to save up on money and garnish it well.
With that, we left from Lonavla. Our next stop would Hotel Fountain at Ghodbunder in Thane (100km from where we last stopped), for proper breakfast. As we crossed the outskirts of Lonavla, I told the others that we would stop for a photo of the sun rise. After travelling a some distance, we could see the Khopoli sun breaking in and that led us to speed up a little. On the roads, at small intervals, crows were busy pecking away at tit bits. When we could finally see properly at about 6 am or so, we stopped to take a few photos as well as to ask directions.
We stopped by the roadside and Yash and Suraj went to talk to a trucker and ask about directions. Meanwhile, I was busy clicking a few pictures on my iPad. Sadly, there was a mountain towards the east so we couldn’t exactly see the sun itself. Suraj took his first picture of the entire trip on his S3 since he doesn’t like taking many pictures.
After a quick inspection of the saddle bags, we were off again. Our next stop was to be Hotel Fountain at Thane after which the roads were brilliant as Yash used to take that route often to go to Surat. Unfortunately, disaster was headed our way pretty soon.
After a few hours of riding at speeds of around a little less than hundred, we became quite unsure of the way and stopped to ask around. No one knew properly the route to Thane but thankfully the GPS on my phone as well as the boards pointed towards the right way from the ‘V’ junction we had stopped near. As we started making our way towards the other road on the ‘V’ as indicated by the GPS, I saw Yash stopped by a man nearby and pointing above him towards a board. The man had a serious look on his face so I decided to go ahead and see what the matter was with Suraj tailing behind and chose to overlook the board. Upon reaching, we learnt that the man was telling Yash that the road was the expressway, where 2-wheelers aren’t allowed. Almost instantly, we heard someone blowing his whistle. Of course, it was a cop. Thankfully we hadn’t gone on the Expressway so we turned around and the other two took the previous road again and halted while I rode up to the cop and asked him for directions for Thane. He asked us to go straight on the road we originally were and from their police station, head straight. I thanked him and we were on our way for a few minutes when disaster struck. Ahead of us, was a HUGE traffic jam.
‘That doesn’t sound so bad’ you would say? Well picture this, we were at a ‘Y’ junction with each of the other two roads being one ways and us having to go on the left one. What’s the bad part? There were trucks everywhere you looked including the road on which we were coming, which obviously implies that we couldn’t look anywhere in the first place. What’s even worse was that none of the trucks were on. They’d all stopped with none of them having any intention to move for quite some time. Some truck drivers had even gotten out of their trucks to see what the matter was. That was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
After being left stranded for a while and realizing that the situation wasn’t going to improve anytime soon, we decided to take advantage of us being on bikes and started making our way slowly between the trucks through any small space that could accommodate the width of our bikes, mine being the widest, I was going ahead. By now the radiator fan on my bike was throwing out hot air and it was all being thrown on the riding pants. Since the mesh doesn’t allow air to pass in or out, this just meant it would fry my thighs pretty soon. Thankfully, it was still 7am so the atmosphere wasn’t very hot as yet. Somehow we managed to push our bikes further ahead with people trying their best to give us space. Some other people on their bikes were dealing with the same problems. In another 5 minutes or so, we found a clearing nearby and decided to stop and decide what to do next. Turns out, that place was the Police Station which was mention previously by the cop. Yash and I stopped there to look back and find that Suraj was missing. We decided to park our bikes and wait for him at the Police Station and ask him to rendezvous with us there.
We tried calling him many times and each time he was at some different location since he always mentioned different landmarks around him, none of which we could quite locate.
The dehydration due to the gear had started getting to us. We decided to make a move towards Thane through the traffic. We decided to take the road on the right this time as the GPS showed that the left one goes ahead and meets the right one anyway. Besides, Suraj confirmed he was on that road and he asked us to meet him in front of a massive hoarding.
As we started, we made our way through the trucks again and could barely manage. Somehow, we made it to the other road only to find that more people were coming towards us on that road and the road had muddy water collected over it. ‘Screw it’, we thought and made our best attempt to cut through the incoming traffic, which primarily consisted of some trucks and some more trucks. With all kinds of vehicles honking and some two wheelers giving us the required room to move, we managed to make it to the place where the one way ended and stopped for a minute near a local dhaaba and saw how dirty it was. The canal flowing nearby smelled like…what a canal usually smells like. I gulped down a bit of water and headed straight on the road ahead which finally had less traffic. We tried our best to ride fast to cool ourselves down and in about 5min, we saw Suraj standing by the board and pulled over next to him. He told me how his front tire went into a pothole that went unseen by the water collected over it. Because of that, his legs and the front tire were all covered in mud. Soon Yash caught up as well and he told him what he went through. Apparently, some bystanders there were kind enough to help him get the bike out. Anxious to get away from there as soon as possible and to catch up on the time we lost, we rode towards Thane.
Unfortunately, we encountered a LOT of speed breakers on the way at the outskirts of Thane. There was literally a speed breaker at about every 200 meters. So, we couldn’t pick up speeds more than 40kmph.
What followed was another bad element for a tourer, traffic signals. We found ourselves standing between trucks again inching our way by but thankfully the trucks were moving too. This happened on the Mumbra bypass.
At about this time, Yash and Suraj told me later that they’d spotted people doing their business on the road side (answering calls, nature’s) which I, thankfully, didn’t see. After the traffic light incident, we were stuck with more trucks that were standing still. As we later found out, a cop had stopped traffic. While between the trucks, I saw a footpath to my left and could only see Suraj behind me. I am generally strictly against people riding on the footpath but this seemed to be a good half an hour to one hour stuck between the immobile trucks so I decided to just go for it. I edged my way towards the footpath with Suraj right behind me. Once on it, we rode past the stationary trucks. I felt bad for the people who were in their cars. As we were getting off the footpath, I saw my RVM to find a blue Pulsar NS behind Suraj. While getting off the footpath, I was a little careful not to let the engine guard touch. There I noticed the Cop who was too busy to notice three bikers getting off the footpath. As soon as we were down, Yash directed us to follow him and we entered Hotel Fountain.
Once there, we thought this would be a good break from the monotonous and tiring traffic jams since good food can work wonders, if it actually turns out to be good that is.
We parked our bikes between a couple of cars. The thing that was on our mind was the luggage. We were perplexed whether we should leave it there and risk something being stolen, or carry the load with us and spend time fastening and unfastening the ropes. Yash wanted to leave it there since the traffic jams had started to take a toll on him. I on the other hand, wanted to take it with us because it had valuables and the bags had no locks. I saw his point though and decided against it but took my iPad along with me. We tried talking to the watchman at the gate behind us to keep an eye on the bikes. Instead, he asked us to move our bikes to a different location, to the bike parking, and be responsible for our own luggage. The man looked drunk so I saw no point in trying to convince him. We went to freshen up after ordering food. Yash also wanted a Red Bull for his drowsiness. He went outside to buy one while I and Suraj waited inside the open-air restaurant for our food. The place was pretty crowded and we were lucky to be able to get a table for four.
Since the food took a while, I and Yash later went to look at the shops surrounding the Hotel. Interestingly, there was a shop that sold all types of crisps, sweets etc. all of which were imported. Yash bought a box of mints from there. As we headed back, it took only a couple of minutes for the food to arrive. I had ordered a cheese uttappa (which seemed like a completely different dish from what you get at Vaishali), Suraj, an onion uttappa and Yash had ordered a sandwich. Our choice for South Indian food was majorly because it would be served fast, I find it delicious, and it’s easy to digest.
After wrapping up, we made our way back to the bikes. I checked the bags and everything seemed to be in place. As we were putting on our gear and I was zipping up my jacket, I started to get pretty gloomy about the journey ahead. We had barely had any fun in the past few hours and stress was getting on to us by now. The only hope of things looking any brighter, was the fabled NH8. As Yash would sometimes say to me while sitting in a boring class ‘Woh feel nahi aa rahi,’ I just hoped things took a hundred and eighty degree turn soon.
We left Hotel Fountain at around 9:00am. At the first signal, an old, gentle guy in a Maruti asked Yash why we rode? What we got out of it?
“Main aqsar dekhta hoon, bikers ko. Kya yeh kisi tarah ka adventure hai?”. Before Yash could give an answer the innocent question, the signal turned green and the conversation came to an end. After that signal, we took a right and the next 160 kilometres were pure and absolute bliss! The roads were one of the best we have EVER ridden on. There was not a single patch where the road had potholes. The road was absolutely clean, the dividers looked colourful owing to the plants. To top it all off as it was still relatively early in the morning, there were very little cars and barely any trucks. I finally got a chance to open up my bike and I easily touched 120kmph. The bike felt absolutely stable and all concerns I had about the saddle bags touching the exhaust became secondary. The thrill of air passing you at 120kmph and adjusting yourself to be aerodynamic is just something else. Thankfully there weren’t any crazy drivers either so I could focus all my attention on enjoying the ride.
Yash touched speeds of 135-138kmph but said his bike wasn’t very stable at that speed. Suraj on the other hand was taking it easy on his 5 year old Pulsar since he said his handle was going haywire at times. He maintained speeds of about 90kmph and occasionally touched 100.
Cars seemed slow were overtaken in the blink of an eye (metaphorically of course). The roads were straight with just the right amount of curves to not make it boring and allow the perfect lean.
About halfway I stopped to the side of the road to gulp down half a bottle of Gatorade and half a power bar since I began to feel sleepy, something I couldn’t afford. It did the trick though. I and Yash also stopped at regular intervals to let Suraj catch up. Soon enough, we went under the ‘Welcome to Daman’ board, at which point the roads were horribly bad again but it didn’t matter this time.
Daman was much more crowded than we expected. It is a fact that we ride more for the journey and not the destination. The heat was rising by now and the Jacket, pants and gloves weren’t helping. After asking around and getting a couple of wring directions, we ultimately decided the follow the navigation on my phone to reach our hotel, Hotel Emerald on Sea face road.
Another 15 minutes and we were there. I went in to ask about our reservation. The lady at the reception was shocked at seeing me walk in. She confirmed our booking. We went outside and asked for a parking spot. The watchman asked us to just park in front of someone’s gate just adjacent to the hotel. Neither of us approved of it but we just wanted to relax for a while. We unpacked our stuff and made our way inside.
As we went in our room, the first thing we did was switch on the AC. At around 12.45pm, we were FINALLY in Daman, in our hotel room.
All of us freshened up and ate the food that was ordered. The tap water was saline, a big con. Food however, was not bad. After wrapping up, we took a well deserved nap.
In the evening, we strolled to a beach just down the road which turned out to be full of people and dumped with waste and beer bottles. A cop told us there was a beach at a little distance which was better so we decided to go there, the Devka beach. That one wasn’t any great either, just very lengthy. We bought a coconut each for coconut water which turned out to be oxidized and we thought we better not have it. All in all, the beaches were quite disappointing.
On our way back we spotted a domino’s and ordered food.
I had this urge since the beginning that we should cover a long distance at a stretch on this ride which for which I had my new bike to blame. We came up with the idea of going to Surat and riding back to Pune the next day. Daman turned out to be worse than what we’d expected and we had seen almost everything it had to offer, save for the churches. Yash also agreed upon the idea and since he has been to his uncle stayed in Surat, he had been there often. He said he knew of a place in Surat, which offered mouth watering chicken. Suraj seemed sceptical at first but eventually agreed.
Surat was roughly a hundred and thirty kilometres from Daman. This was really exciting for me since our trip from Surat to Pune would be around 450 kilometres. The receptionist was persistent about us vacating within 10 minutes since we were past the check-out time (11:00am). Even though we had cancelled our stay for that day, the hotel’s staff was genial about helping us out with our bags and filling our bottles with cold water.
We packed our bags and mounted them on the bikes and fastened the ropes. Yash and Suraj helped me in tying the saddle bags in a secure manner. In a matter of minutes, we were making our way out of Daman. The road, pretty much lead us straight out of Daman onto the highway.
Gujarat roads were again there to welcome us with open arms, albeit with a little more traffic. We gained good speeds again and pretty soon the average car was overtaken in the ‘blink of an eye’. We were doing speeds well above 100, Suraj included. During the first few kilometres, we stopped to refuel.
At the petrol pump, only Yash and I were getting our tanks filled while Suraj still had plenty of juice to go. Since he was at a distance, I yelled out to him and asked him to switch his headlight on so he’s easier to spot. When the attendant started to fill my tank, he asked me why I told Suraj to do so. Him being inquisitive was a good feeling.
Pretty soon we were back on the road. Without taking any breaks, I stopped when I saw the first board that showed Surat towards the left and waited for the others. Soon they joined me and we stopped by the side of the road. A herd of buffalo passed us by. The worst part about such a thing happening apart from grievances caused to the traffic is the road is absolutely mess up once they’ve passed.
Also, some ‘crazy lover’ had carved in a verse on the roadside.
After drinking a lot of water and a few pictures, we made our way to Surat, asking around as we did. Turns out it was another 10 kilometres from where we had stopped. We took a left and we were on a beautiful yet narrow road that was relatively less congested. It felt reassuring that we were riding all the way on India’s finest roads.
After a few kilometres, the ‘Welcome to Surat’ Board was in front of us and we stopped for a few pictures. A picture of the three of us was due so Suraj asked an ice-cream guy passing by with his hand cart and a friend to click a picture for us. The guy seemed extremely puzzled. Suraj tried explaining to him how to click the picture yet, he somehow couldn’t understand so we dropped the idea.
Heat had started to set in so we were eager to find our way to our Hotel. Once inside the city, Yash guided us the best he could, until we had to rely on the GPS navigation again.
The roads in Surat seemed as they were regularly paid attention to. There were no traffic signals but people managed to not ride like maniacs, although there were the occasional ‘triplies’ here and there but nothing compared to Pune.
Our hotel was just left from a flyover that was under construction. Whilst me and Yash parked our bikes, Suraj was already standing there since he had lost his way but asked around and reached just fine.
I was sceptical of the hotel at first but it turned out to be much better than the one in Daman.
The lobby was fantastic. The room was a no-nonsense. Compact, yet elegant in some weird way. Three beds, a TV, what seemed like a 10 year old AC, a fan dangerously close to the ground and a well-furnished bathroom.
We ordered food and tea. Sandwiches were quite decent and the paranthas were good. Although we still couldn’t figure out whether it was the readymade parantha or not as Suraj said he has had plenty of these at his office.
After getting fresh, Yash and I watched Gangs of Wasseypur on the iPad while Suraj was busy chatting and seeing his Facebook. In the evening we had decided to go to Yash’s uncle’s place. We went on mine and Yash’s bikes. The place was not far away, Surat is a small city. A few flyovers and a couple of turns later, we were there.
The were very courteous to us.
After some time, both of Yash’s cousins was kind enough to take us out for dinner and show us around the city, in their car.
We had chicken at the place which offered mouth-watering food (Tandoori Nights, in Piplod) that closed down just after taking our order. On our way back, we were introduced to the tradition of the resident families getting together on wide footpaths along the road and have a bite to eat. We also saw about ten different car showrooms all in a row which were closed since the time was well past 10:00pm.
We wandered the streets for any shop that would give another famous dish, a blend of egg and veggies served in the form of various different dishes. We had about 4 different dishes of egg none of which were known to us except for the boiled egg.
Once we were back, we thanked them for their hospitality and generosity. They enquired about our bikes as well. No one seemed to understand our fascination of riding all the way on the bikes though.
On our way back, the traffic was as light as it gets. When we reached back, we had a cup of tea and watched a few Russell Peters videos on YouTube.
I packed up my bag since we were planning to leave early tomorrow morning. After a while, Yash and I resumed watching Gangs of Wasseypur while Suraj was busy with his phone. Not too long before we were all sound asleep.
I woke up around 10am to see that Suraj was already up. Yash woke up too. Breakfast was ordered and all of us packed whatever little was left. I adjusted the bottles appropriately to balance the weight equally on both sides of the saddle bags.
It didn’t take long before Suraj paid the bill at the counter while I was eager to get on with, what was going to be the longest ride for any of us. We helped ourselves in taking the bags all the way down. Office hours had long begun so the parking lot was full with corporate employees parking their Passions and their Splendours. It was a little tough to get the bikes out through the ruckus. We made it out however and started tying the bags once again. To be on the safer side, Suraj measured everyone’s tires too, with his Radioshack air gauge. Mine were doing pretty good but Yash’s rear tire still had low pressure but we moved on anyway. I had my riding pants and jacket on though it wasn’t zipped up. I was wearing a black T-shirt too. Why would that be relevant in anyway? You’ll know.
As we took the road to the highway and took our first right, the construction site caused a huge traffic jam. Now, consider the fact that Surat was a pretty humid place and these were still the summers. Personally, I was suffering heavy water loss due to perspiration. Suraj was much better off, since he had absolutely no protective gear on except for a helmet. Somehow, we managed to make it past that traffic jam since the vehicles were at least moving. In just a few minutes however, we encountered, what would be the worst part of the trip, from my perspective at least. There was yet another traffic jam.
This time, the road was fully constructed so there was a boatload of people on the road. Since the traffic lights didn’t work, everyone had their vehicles on, emitting heat and smoke out of their exhausts, since the traffic could move at any time. The sun shone brightly and to top it all off, my CBR’s fan had started. Anyone who owns a 250 knows how horrible the air blown out from the fan can be. I had started to get frustrated by now. The traffic moved extremely slowly. The temperature would have easily touched 50 degrees. After nearly 10 minutes of this torture, we crossed the signal that caused that huge traffic jam and I sped away without giving a damn about my speed or that we were still in the city. The wind felt very good and I didn’t want it to stop. Relatively speaking, we were out of the city in no time. A little longer on the highway at speeds of around 100 to cool down and we stopped to drink water. I gulped down an entire bottle of water (which had also become hot) in one go. A few curses to the traffic and we decided to move right along.
The longest journey had begun and seemed all too good. We went at breakneck speeds. My bike was extremely stable at 120kmph and I did push it further as and when the road and traffic allowed. I wasn’t too careful anymore of the saddlebags and just concentrated on enjoying the ride. Roads were as beautiful and smooth as they were when we came back. Our aim was to reach Thane as soon as we could. Suraj was behind me and Yash many times owing to the bike but we decided to slow down from time to time rather than to actually stop. This was because back in Pune, it had started raining and that was one thing we didn’t want to deal with as yet. Water breaks were taken in due time but no major stops as such.
At one point, I and Yash decided to switch bikes. His pulsar seemed VERY different since it was a naked bike. Since I wasn’t used to his bike I decided to keep the speed under 80. He however, touched 125 on my CBR. I realized how tiring it must get since an upright position meant all the body weight lies on your bottom even though the seat was more comfortable than my bike’s. The wrists had no pressure at all. After sitting on his bike I realized how much importance a visor had since the air blast ensured higher fatigue than required. His bike had a much smoother engine than mine though. Gears wear short and zippy. About 10km later, we switched back.
As we were exiting Gujarat, the roads were less congested and the scenic beauty was ever so good. I stopped to take a few pictures of the road. As I continued on, I noticed in the sky above, clouds had started setting in. My bags were not water proof so I wanted to avoid the rain at all costs. I sped up and increased my average speed. While going back, Yash saw a diversion for a newly made road and suggested we go via the new road since it might have less traffic and would be relatively straight without many curves. A policeman, however, suggested otherwise and we continued on the main highway.
It wasn’t too long before we reached the outskirts of Thane. There, at Hotel Fountain, we stopped for lunch. The best was yet to come. This, after we covered 260km in a little over 3 hours!
There, at Hotel Fountain, we stopped for lunch. We ordered an egg-chicken sandwich. All of us wanted to make a move as early as possible and that is exactly what we did. Soon, we sat on our bikes and were off towards Thane. The roads were decent, at best. We couldn’t pick up any speed at all. While we were in the outskirts of Mumbai, it started drizzling. There is nothing we could do about it since ther were traffic lights and, obviously, traffic everywhere. Meanwhile, while I was riding, there was sumo a little distance ahead of me. There was a little kid sitting at the back seat and look at me since quite a while. I waved at him and he started smiling and waved back. I waved again, since we were all at a slow pace and it was good fun, and this time the kid smiled and called his mother. She was fascinated as well. This continued for about a minute until Yash also caught up. The kid turned his attention towards him and decided to take a chance and wave at him too. Yash waved back a couple times and took over. I did too and the kid watched us overtake the sumo. Suraj, meanwhile, was behind us.
After a while, as the rain showed no signs of subsiding, we decided it was a good time to keep our mobile phones in a secure, waterproof pocket. We stopped under a tree and Yash told me about a guy he say who was wearing and XBHP T-shirt and had just passed by. With that, we started off once again only to realize we were lost, within the next 30 minutes. The rain had still not stopped and we wandered the streets of Mumbai for a good 45 minutes or so until we finally did find the right way. At this point, the rain had started pouring not very heavy but enough to pass through the waterproof jackets. After a while, we realized Suraj had taken a wrong turn and since it was raining, he had put his phone in his bag so there was no other option but to stop and wait for him. Yash and I stopped under the shade of a tree to help us dry for a bit.
While we had stopped, a guy on a pulsar 220 came by, checked out our bikes and started to rev his engine while looking at us as if he were trying to show off and then sped away while riding in a rash manner. Both of us had a good laugh.
About 15 minutes later, we spotted Suraj coming by. He realized he had taken a wrong turn and had called us up. Without wasting any more time, we were back on track. After a little more riding in the rain at slow speeds and almost going on the expressway again, we found our way to the old Mumbai-Pune highway.
The next few kilometers were the best and most satisfying of the entire trip. The sun was about to set, there was virtually no traffic and the roads were smooth albeit wet and narrow, but it didn’t matter anymore. We took our time. The tires rolled over the tarmac with utter grace. The climate was ideal with just the right amount of chill in the air. About half an hour later, we passed the same spot where we had faced our first traffic jam. The recollection of the unhappiness then and the splendid joy now, made that stretch extremely satisfactory. We were truly understanding the meaning of ‘all is well that ends well’.
After another few kilometers, the surroundings just became exceptionally better. There were trees and kills all around. The sun was setting and the rain had stopped pouring, yet the clouds were still scattered up in the sky. This called for a few pictures. We were at the peak of our euphoria. Energy was restored almost instantly. So much so, that we even considered filming the few minutes ahead but weren’t able to quite manage a comfortable position for the iPad between my bike’s visor so we dropped the idea.
A little while later, it was dark and we still hadn’t reached Lonavla yet. My helmet and Yash’s alike, had smoked visors on them so it was very tough to see through them at night. On top of that, mud was splashed all over the visors and that made things even worse. All the three of us wear spectacles, so we somehow managed even though they were stained too.
Our next stop, was to have a cup of tea. We stopped at Lonavla near a Maganlal chikki shop. All of us took our turns to go and buy something from the shop while the other two stayed back and watched the bikes. At this point, I noted the saddle bags had mud dried all over them and a part of the strap had melted even though there was no contact being made with the exhaust.
We wrapped up and off we were, again. This time, the roads had something entirely different to throw our way. We were riding uphill on a mountain that was absolutely pitch black. Not a single soul to be seen and even the moonlight was obstructed due to the clouds. Of course, there was no question of any street lights. This patch was particularly spooky, especially if one were to ride alone. We did manage however and thankfully, this road led straight to the Pune-Lonavla expressway.
Now, as I saw the two roads meet, I as doubtful whether I should go on the expressway or not but Yash passed me by and went on the highway followed by Suraj. Since Yash and Suraj had been to Lonavla many times before, I trusted their judgement and went on the expressway. Yash later told me, this was a certain patch where bikes were allowed. I was cautious through, since I didn’t know this at the time. Thankfully, it didn’t take us more than about 20 minutes to get off the expressway and onto the old highway. This was reassuring in its own way and every kilometer marked the end of the amazing journey.
The ride on this highway was ordinary except for the fact that it had started drizzling again and I had adjusted my visor in an awkward position so it could save my spectacles from the rain drops and yet not obstruct my vision. Since it was raining, we were moving at slow speeds.
About an hour later, we had entered the outskirts of Pune. We made our way to Yash’s and Suraj’s society, and once there, we stopped to say goodbye. Meanwhile, two elderly women were sitting beside the footpath and were busy cursing each other for no rhyme or reason.
Three days of awesomeness had finally come to an end.
This is a guest post by my dear friend, Mayur, with inputs from me. He is an intelligent man with a passion for technology, and I managed to get him interested in touring. We share a lot in common, apart from being classmates in an engineering college! Thanks dog. I look forward to more rides.