Warning: This is not just another ride log.
This ride was getting delayed due to several reasons, some of them beyond my control. So this Sunday, 11 March 2007, I got a small opportunity to do the ride, I grabbed it with both hands. The main aim of the ride was to get my Fiero’s engine oil, oil filter changed and also try to get the heandlamp’s custom made mounting adjusted to focus the beam. My plan about this ride was to leave Pune early morning and reach Bombay by 10am. 2hours for the bike work and then leave by 12pm towards Mahabaleshwar for a delayed lunch. Satisfy my soul with Pizza and Strawberries at Mapro Garden before heading back to Pune.
I got free by 10am to start the ride so decided to leave the Mahabaleshwar plan for some other ride. This was the first time I was riding out my Fiero with a new’ish 2.75×18 Modi Contenental rear tyre. Cruising at around 80km/hr mark on the great surface of NH4 between Pune and Lonawala was nice and my concerns about straight line stability been compromised were long gone as I was enjoying my ride. On the way I checked the accuracy of the Apache odometer and found it to be around 2-3% optimistic (compared the distance shown on odo against the distance marker on road).
After crossing Lonawala as I approach towards the Khandala ghats, it was time to test the bike handling in twisties. As I enter the expressway section of the road (two wheelers are allowed on some section), I decide to stick to middle lane and let the fast cars enjoy the uninterrupted fast lane to cream a slow bike at will. While I was taking corners I saw that some of the fast driven cars were not able to stick to their lanes, the drivers were going so fast that they were either running wide and hence going from middle to right lane or if they were already in right lane then forced to do correction and land up in middle lane. Basically mid corner lane changing was hapenning, so much for the skills of the person controlling the machine, who was going lightning fast on straights.
This kind of thing I have seen many times in past. Many people who got the money to afford a car often are ill equipped with the skills to handle the machine properly and often land up driving the machine well beyond their capabilities. This sometimes goes un-noticed on straight roads but in twisties they are exposed badly to the hard reality about their poor driving skills. If they are luck to drive on a road like Pune-Bombay Expressway, many times they escape unhurt but in a normal mountain road often they run wide, go into opposite lane and CRASH !!!
PS: Same is also applicable with two wheeler riders as well.
As I was approaching the exit from the expressway, I enter the second last turn before the exit (a long left hander). Was doing some 80 before I slow down to 70 for the turn. Got myself in position to take the turn and vola, taking such a turn was never so much of fun. By the time I exit the turn I was doing in excess of 90.
For the uninitiated, I was just trying out some lessons learned from the book called “Twist of Wrist” by Keith Code.
There is nothing to talk about the route till Panvel, traffic was less and road in great condition. As I reach Panvel I realised that my cell phone’s roaming is once again disabled, not this hasn’t happen for the first time with me . Thankfully I was knowing the route (I thought so) till Goregaon. The moment I crossed Panvel I was greeted with more disciplined (as compared to what we got in Pune) and fast moving traffic. While I was overtaking a couple of trucks, following a car in rightmost lane, I hear someone honking from behind. Having got stuck behind a car and trucks on left and divider on right, coudn’t do anything (can’t use my NOS button and someone disabled the “Take off” button on my bike ) but to wait till I get space to allow the GP racer chance to put me a lap down. As I got space I let the racer go by, not surprisingly the car was spotting Pune registration number
As I crossed Vashi bridge traffic lights were more frequent and it was nice to see people sticking to their lanes and not jumping the stop line while standing on a red light. This was in a city just under 2hrs drive away from Pune, where such kind of discipline is unheard of. Agreed, I might not have seen even 1% of Bombay traffic but whatever i have seen is not at all visible even at a single traffic light signal in Pune. Why so big difference between two cities which are hardly at any distance from each other? People might say Bombay got wider roads, etc etc but what do jumping traffic lights gotta do with road width?
Enjoying the wide roads with fast moving traffic, I missed the turn off point so pulled over next to RK Studio to call up Arpan to get directions. Now I would be riding till Sion and then take the wide ‘n’ fast NH8. It was fun riding on such roads in middle of a city and soon I was at Goregaon to get the work done. While the bike was worked upon we went to have food.
On the way back meet up with Arnob to see his HID setup on ZMA. It was around 4:30pm when Arnob switches on his HID lamps and man what we saw next was just amazing. The white light was visible on the wall on opposite side of road, must be at a distance of 20 feet or so. Can’t wait to see it function in night and on my bike(s).
After a small chit chat session at CCD next to IIT, we split and I head back to Pune via the route I was supposed to take while coming. Having already experienced the fast moving, somewhat disciplined traffic of Bombay I was feeling sad to return the chaotic traffic of Pune. As I was climbing up the Khandala ghats (which are one way only), the whole fun factor was spoiled by few smarties who were coming down the ghat in wrong direction forcing me to drop pace to avoid running into one such joker.
By the time I reach Lonawala it was getting dark and time to test the well focused new headlamp of my bike. It was still some time to put the lights on but then I saw three monkeys who happen to have escaped from a zoo riding bikes wearing dark glasses and black color wisor and have possibly forgot to take them off and hence riding bikes with headlights on and that too in high beam mode.
Once it got really dark I put my headlight on and it didn’t dissapoint me. Ofcourse its not the best of lights but can’t expect anything more than this from a 35W headlamp.
As I was riding back home one more thing I observed. It is possible for one to ride/drive in night in low beam as long as the person is willing to ride/drive within the limits, which means slower pace than what is possible in daylight. Once a person decides that he/she is taking park in a 24hr race and hence want to go as fast as possible lands up switching to high beam. Now to me it has two affects, one you are illuminating your path but at the same time you are also blinding other people and the second is that you are not leaving any scope for mistakes, what if there is a section of road which you want to lightup more due to oncoming vehicles headlight is stronger, since you are already in highbeam you have no options left but to just go on and hope the road ahead is clear or drop speed.
Finally by the time I reached home i was richer in riding experience and poorer in my pocket
In end my favourite part – the statistics.
10:15 0km Home
10:53 53km Lonawala
11:20 71km Khopoli
11:53 112km Panvel
12:20 138km RK Studio
13:30 166km Goregaon
Trip Up: 166km, 3hrs 15min
17:05 14km CCD next to IIT
17:53 54km Panvel
18:17 94km Khopoli
18:36 111km Lonawala, a 5 min break to shop Chikki
19:40 165km Home
Return Trip: 151km, 2hrs 35min
Total Trip: 331km