Monday, 5 January 2015

Motorcycle diaries Part 1.1: Bike trip to Goa from Pune & back

A tale of 700 ccs and 1400 kms

It all started with a mid-night discussion over Pink Floyd. The topic revolving around the famous lyrics of Roger Water's Free Four.
The memories of a man in his old age Are the deeds of a man in his prime
Hence we thought of doing something memorable, something crazy, something spontaneous. Thus the bike trip. The people present during the discussion were Jason, Joseph, Nathan, Chinmay & Winner. Yes, all the names of the members have been changed to protect their identity. Yet, you can simply click over their names to know their true identity.

As it was the winters, what better way to let off steam than planning a bike trip to Goa. The decided date was 27th December. But unfortunately due to some circumstances, Jason had to travel by four wheeler, and was stripped off the epic experience.So in this post, I'll elaborate our bike trip to Goa from Pune, and the remaining tale of our journey though Goa and our journey back will be presented in separate posts.

27th December

1.25pm, Pune

In one of my earlier posts, I had mentioned the dire need of planning. And that was the sole element that we lacked. We planned to leave by 9am, but in spite of our best efforts we were compelled to leave by 1.25pm. The chariots that we were to ride on were Nathan's 2014 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350, & Winner's 2002 Royal Enfield Electra 350. Nathan had serviced his bike a week ago while Winner had serviced his Electra that very day. Nathan & Winner were the first one to tame the beasts while Chinmay ( me ) & Joseph were the pillion. We were merely 20 minutes & 8 km in the journey, when we faced our first hurdle.

As Winner's Electra was serviced that very day, he didn't get the chance to check his bike thoroughly post servicing. So when we were over Kothrud bridge, his bike's tail-lamp, along with number-plate & indicator, ( which is a single unit ) fell off. Apparently the person who serviced his bike had tightened the screw at a different place. Thus when the unit fell off, it not only shattered the tail lamp, but also tore the wiring of the same. Fortunately there was a mechanic nearby who temporarily fixed the rear unit, but the wiring still remained torn.
We started the bike, but noticed sparking in the right hand indicator control, then and there we knew that, we were about to face a lot more troubles. After a few meters, the Electra stopped running. By then Nathan, Joseph & his Electra had reached the outskirts of Pune. It was 2pm, & still the bike won't start. But Winner being an intelligent chap, immediately called a mechanic friend of his from Mumbai named Alex ( original identity ), who said that due to short circuiting the fuse might have broken. And that was exactly the case. After replacing the fuse, it was a smooth sail from there onwards.

2.10 pm, Khedshivapur

We fueled our bikes at Khedshivapur and kept on riding until we reached Narayanpur. In between this 60 km ride we experienced the joy of a road tunnel which we had failed to achieve during our numerous travel though it while inside a car. The were riding and the thump of the Enfields were echoing inside the tunnel, the sweet cool breeze and the mesmerizing sight of the vehicle tail lamps & overhead lights of the tunnel.
At Narayanpur, we treated ourselves with spicy Misal, bhel & Maza and kept on riding.

3.40 pm, Satara

We rode for 60 km & reached Satara. Had some tea, stretched our backs & resumed at 4.30pm.

6.00pm, Karad

By 6.00 it was getting dark & we had covered a stretched of 75 kilometers. We noticed that the Electra's headlight was not working at all, hence the best decision was to fix it, else we would be a riding blind in spite of 2 pair of eyes. While on the Thunderbird, Joseph couldn't control his temptation of completely opening the throttle of the bike, which caused some of the bike parts to vibrate. Joseph had been riding for 5 minute straight at over 120 kmph.
To our surprise, Karad turned out to be mecca for Royal Enfield repairs and apparently the mechanics there were very friendly and did some innovative fixes to both our bikes, which saved us some precious time without compromising with the integrity & safety of the bikes. We left Karad at 7.40 & by then we realized that there was no way we could stretch ourselves or our bikes to Goa on that very day.

9.00pm, Kolhapur

The 75 km stretch from Karad to Kolhapur was a tough one. Not because of the road or traffic, but due to the cold. Even though we were completely covered, our hands & feet went numb. We were famished and by the moment we reached Kolhapur bus stand, the holy VADA PAV helped us regain our warmth and partially filled the void in our belly. We booked a room in the Maharaja lodge nearby and after a not so decent dinner at Nupur, confined ourselves to bed at 11pm. Or was it 2am, I don't recollect ( few know why ).

28 December

8.30 am, Kolhapur

We woke up, bathed, packed our bags & saddled on our bikes. Not for Goa, but for a stint of spirituality in the Mahalakshmi Temple. After catching a glimpse of the Goddess, we offered our prayers ate Misal at Patil's & Appe near the temple. We asked for direction and a policeman said that there were 2 ways to Goa. One, through the Amboli ghat, & the other through Gaganbawda.
Gaganbawda ghat
He said that the Gaganbawda route was safe, had a ghat of 15 km and also shorter by 25 km. But the police never mentioned the condition of the road. The road was the epitome of imperfection and was as uneven as the skin of a teenager suffering from acute acne. We endured the bad road for 50 km & then crossed the ghat. When the ghat ended, there was a brief police checking ( bike papers & license ). In between we treated ourselves with a short stick of sugar cane, which brought back childhood memories. Then we refueled our bikes and stopped for lunch at 3.00pm after 35 km.
Joseph, Nathan & Chinmay (L to R)
3.55 pm, Sawantwadi

After having chicken thali we rode for 40 km, through winding narrow roads and reached Sawantwadi. On our way we managed to meet a chap named Sagar who even marketed about scuba diving in Tarkarli. Another time, that's what we said to ourselves and focused on the impending journey.
The distance between Sawantwadi & Goa border was merely 20 km. But the most striking feature about this stretch is the quality & beauty of the tarmac and the curvature of the terrain. You can literally see the road vanish and again rise after a couple of kilometers & to top it off, you would barely find a soul on either side of the road. Which was a clear indication for us to go flat out, and check the calibrate of the Royal Enfield. Chinmay was driving the Electra, & he managed to surpass over 130kmph. Near Goa border, we had a cup of tea and entered Goa at 4.20pm.
At Savantwadi

Now we started our journey through the winding streets of Goa. This tale of our reunion with Jason & the adventure of 4 days would be elaborated in our next post.