Wet, Wild ‘n’ Foggy ride


Where two is a Crowd

When: 24th June 2007
Route: Pune – Lonawala – Amby Valley – Kundlika Valley – Mulshi – Pune
Riders ‘n’ Rides: Nalin on Silver P180 and Me on Black Fiero
Distance: 178km

Time Taken: 9hrs (7:45am to 4:15pm)

It was a much awaited ride, one of the many rides I have planned for this rainy season. The ride started a bit late, at 7:45am, on a gloomy day with wet roads. After me and Nalin teamed up at Talegaon, the destination was Lonawala via the boring NH4 but the ride for a change was not so boring.

The wind was on higher side today, as we were nearing to Karla Caves, it started to rain heavily and crosswind increased their intensity. It was difficult to keep the bike moving straight and things went bad while overtaking trucks. Struggling with crosswind, as I would come next to truck, it would shield me from wind but the moment front end would come ahead of truck, wind would hit it with the rest of bike still behind truck, making the bike go into a big wobble, not a good feeling when you are travelling at speed close to 80 on wet roads.

At Lonawala after a small break we headed towards Amby Valley. Initially ride was nice but as we started the climb up Amby Valley, road vanished into thick fog and visiblity was reduced to 10-15feets with headlights on. I dropped the speed to 20-60 as I was not on a corner carving ride, nor was keen on getting my blood flowing faster in my veins (or will it be on road?).

We halted at Tiger point to munch on corn, it was too foggy to click any decent snap of the valley down. After a break we headed towards Amby Valley. As the fog reduced a little, we halted to put out camera’s to good use.


On the way to Amby Valley – Fog and Heavy Rains


On the way to Amby Valley – No speed limit for two-wheelers

Just as we closed on Amby Valley, we took the road off the main weekend tourist road and got onto this stretch of lesser travelled 40 odd km’s. Initially road was good but as we rode on, it started to get bad. We took our first of many halts at this bridge over a high flowing water stream.


On a bridge with high flowing water


Posing time

After riding some more distance we could see flooded fields and at many places water stream flowing over road as well. There we saw for first time another living organism, few big yellow colored crabs running across road. After crossing this water stream covered in fog, we decided to take another break.


Riding thru Fog and Water

Once we crossed over a hill we saw first signs of civilisation, a few houses. Rain has stopped but clouds were still hovering.


Foggy Break and the Road Ahead

Few km’s later, climate got better (lesser fog) to click pictures and for first time we saw some water streams coming down hills.


Somewhere on the way, Waterfall near & far

While on one side we had slightly clear hill, on the other side clouds were travelling at high speed covering-exposing hills at regular interval.


Fast moving clouds


Out in wild, High flying water

After riding on all kind of surface, tar road, broken road, road with slush (requiring to balance bike while crossing it), we reached a point where we were seeing weekend tourists in numbers. Later I realised that we are nearing the end of ride as we were closing on to Kundlika Valley.


On the way to Kundlika Valley, The Valley

After we started from Kundlika Valley, we were soon on Mulshi road and we were plugged back into civilisation (or shall I say uncivilised civilisation?). Weekend tourists were travelling on road as if they own it. Its a free country, so I go no problems with that but what I have problem is that when it start to affect me, by endangering my life.

We stopped at a hotel which on a normal day will be having staff out numbering customers but today there was a queue of customers. So we moved ahead for another hotel. After a nice lunch we rode back to Pune which was, like most of ride’s ending, a boring (no rains and drying roads) and frustrating (senseless riding/driving by morons on/behind wheels) experience.

PPL Ride

Don’t get confused by the title of the post. PPL Ride = Pune Pawana Lonawala Ride. The plan of this ride was made on Friday, 25 May 2007. Finally 4 riders (Alok on P180 DTSi, Me on Fiero, Praveen on P180 DTSi and Suyash on Avenger) started the ride on Sunday around 6:15am from Chandani Chowk. As per our initial plan it was supposed to be a small ride to have breakfast on the way to Mulshi and then ride back home.

When we reached our breakfast point, just ahead of Paud, we were told that it will take another hr or so before we can be served food. As we were deciding what to do next, Praveen suggested a new route to Lonawala via Paud, I never knew about this one, so without loosing time we were riding towards this new route. For this route one needs to take a right turn (if coming from Pune side), next to the Paud bus stand.

The road is a mixed bag, with a couple of broken patches and some normal (potholes galore) narrow road. The scenery though made it worth the ride. During the ride, it was confirmed what I knew long time back – best time to ride around Pune is during rains. :-)

As we climbed up the first ghat, I stopped to click this pic.

View from top of ghat

At this point we decided to get off the road and take a narrow path, where we saw a few four wheelers parked to get the great view of Pawana and Tung fort. We parked our bikes after riding for a km or so on this road.

It was time to walk around, enjoy the view and some chit chat.

Tung fort and the Pawana.

After a small break we resumed our ride to the breakfast point. Riding through the narrow, bumpy twisty road we reached “Pawana – boat club”. Order for a couple of rounds of onion pakoras, pohe, tea was placed. Once we filled our stomaches and me taking a few rounds of cat nap (didn’t slept previous night as I was not sure of getting up at 5am for the ride :D so it was almost 24hrs since I got up previous day), we ventured out towards the bank of Pawana. There Alok and Praveen decided to soak their legs in water while camera guys (me and Suyash) clicked some pics.

By the time we decided to leave, it has started to get hot and weekend tourists have started to come in big groups. Now we were heading towards Lonawala and due to shortage of time conquering Lohgarh fort, we had to give a miss.

On the way to Lonawala, Praveen took us onto a path which got us onto the top of expressway.

After spending some time watching “slow” moving cars, we headed towards Lonawala. Town of Lonawala was full of weekend visitors and it was tough getting to RK for our post ride munchies, where we meet Akhil and his friend. By the time we were done, it was getting too late to reach home for some of us hence a rip started on the boring section of NH4. At the bypass we stopped for one last round of liquids before we seperated out. By 1pm I was in my house parking having covered exactly 141km’s.

One more route added to my database which needs to be ridden on, once the rains have started in full flow, waterfalls have started to run down at their max velocity, and nature has put a green carpet to welcome those who don’t worry about broken/washed away roads.

So close yet so far

One dream
SS1600K – a long awaited IBA ride I wanted to do. Having spend a couple of years discussing and planning about it, as another year was coming to an end, I decided that I have to attempt it before the year ends.

Initial plans were to do the ride on my Bullet but after my last ride to Goa, bike showed signs of needing some attention. During this time I got to ride Unicorn, thanks to Dilip Bam. Riding the bike for a few days I knew that it is a good alternative to Bullet for such a ride, though the seat was not so comfortable nor light so bright, but it was the best I was having as a choice.

After Arpan and Alok returned back from their Bangalore ride I got an update on the road condition of NH4 between Pune and Bangalore. The 200 odd km long stretch between Hubli and Chitradurga is still under construction with lots of diversions, crossing through towns via the old NH4 and some stretches of broken roads.

Christmas weekend was chosen for the ride. Got the bike inspected for the ride. As I was about to start the ride, I fell sick and had to postpone the ride. Now with only the New Year weekend left, that was the last chance for me. Luckily for me I recovered enough for the ride by the New Year weekend. By now Arnob has also done the same route for his Bum Burner ride (another IBA certified ride) and he advised me not to take the route due to the bad stretch which I’ll have to cross twice, wasting a lot of time. Still I decided to do it on the same route.

Ride preparation
On Friday collected some spare parts (Spare tube, Fuse, Spark Plug, Head light bulb, Chain link), replaced the fused tail light bulb, replaced the rear 3.00×18 Zapper with 90/90×18 Zapper Q and packed the required tools. Cleaned the visor and decided to carry the brand new spare visor along to replace during the night time. Went to sleep early on Fri, 29 Dec, the ride was planned to start as soon as I get up next day.
Ride day – Pune to Bangalore

At 7am I got up fresh to start the ride. Took bath with warm water and started to prepare myself for the 24hr long ride. I decided to wear four layers of clothes on top (T shirt, Thermal, T shirt and leather jacket) and two layer at bottom (Thermal and jeans). By 8am I was down in parking warming up the bike and fixing the small luggage with the help of bungee chord. I quickly set off towards RTO gas station as my start point. All the way was trying to hear for some unwanted noise coming from the bike which might trouble me during the ride.

At 8:30am I reached RTO gas station and started to call my friends as start point witness. Sadly no one was able to come and the attendants at the gas station were not too convinced to become the start point witness. As I was thinking of what to do, I meet with an old time friend at the gas station who readily agreed to be my witness. I quickly tanked up and took the fuel bill. It was 9am with odometer showing 9410.5 on the bike.

Coming out of city was not too difficult and soon I was on the bypass. Slowly I started to pick up speed and decided to keep the tachometer needle between 7k to 7.5k rpm (with Unicorn speedometer having too big of an error, it was not good to get carried away with the false sense of high speed).

Thanks to the newly opened Katraj Bypass I was able to avoid the pathetic Katraj ghat and soon was riding through small towns outside Pune. The traffic was not too much with majority of traffic being of fast moving cars and crawling busses. Till Shirval there were some slow sections but after that it is 4 lanes all the way.

Bike was feeling nice and happy cruising easily at around 7k rpm. As I started to climb up Khambatki ghat I came across a bunch of egoistic car drivers who were not willing to give way to a faster vehicle. They couldn’t digest the fact that a bike which they just creamed on the straight road is asking them for side in the twisty. It was tough passing each of those car divers with over inflated ego. As I crossed the turn off point to Mahabaleshwar, I knew I’ll not meet with the weekend travelers on road for some time now.

With every passing km I was enjoying my ride on the highway after long time. My first aim was to see how much time I take till Satara. At 10:45am with odometer showing 9534, I rode through the town of Satara, on schedule. There was not too much of trouble passing through Satara, thanks to the bypass.

Now next was a very fast stretch of road to Karad. In this section I upped the pace a little bit. At 11:20am with odometer showing 9583 I was passing through the town of Karad. After crossing the town of Karad I was heading towards Kolhapur, munching mile like a runaway from Somalia. This section of NH4 is also great to do some high speeds. With sun starting to warm the environment, I kept on with the hot pace as I have to do these good sections in day time as fast as possible. At 12:10pm with odometer showing 9653, I was passing through Kolhapur. There was a bit of traffic so I dropped the pace to safe limits.

As I crossed Kolhapur it started to get a bit hot and the route become monotonous. I was now heading towards the Maharashtra border. The road at many places is too straight to make even the fastest of bikes feel slow. Fighting with the boredom I reached Belgaum at 13:25pm with odometer showing 9753km.

Right after crossing Belgaum I took my first stop to click a picture of the highway distance board, on which the distance to both Pune and Bangalore was shown. After a small 5min picture break, I resumed my ride. There were a few diversions in this section. Soon the bike hit reserve as I was closing on Dharwad. At 18min past 14hrs, on reaching the Reliance gas station just before Dharwad I decided to tank up.

After a small 5 minute break to fill fuel and have water with some chocolates I resumed my ride. I was feeling a bit hungry now but didn’t want to waste too much time in having food on a road side dhaba, so decided to keep on going till the next A1 restaurant. Soon I crossed Dharwad and headed towards Hubli. This section was a bit windy with some road repair work going at a few places. By the time I reached Hubli, I was very hungry and couldn’t wait to reach the A1 plaza. As I reached Hubli, signs of bad stretch started to show, with the main junction missing and have to search for the road towards Bangalore.

Road now is full of diversions and single side of the 4 lane in operation. Getting used to the changed road condition I saw the A1 Plaza in some distance and couldn’t stop myself from pulling into it. It was well past 3pm. I opted for Idli for lunch and bought a water bottle. It was a small 15min break and I was back on road. The road, whatever is made, is really good but since only a single lane is operational, I got a bit worried on the thought of riding here in night. Thankfully the traffic was not much and hence I was still able to maintain a good speed. On the way I happen to cross a couple of railway crossings while the bridge is still under construction. Now I was riding on the old NH4, on which I have ridden in 2003 on my Fiero. The diversions were so bad at places that I missed one diversion (thinking it’s a broken road) and carried on the old NH4 which started to take me towards a town. Luckily I found an old NH4 bypass section this was the same place where I took a small nap during my ride on Fiero. Soon I was back on the under construction road which has now gotten really bad. With lots of stretches of stones, gravel and dust there to ride through.

Sun has started to come down and I was probably now on the near completed section of road just before Chitradurga. Negotiating the last few km’s of the bad stretch I entered the limits of Chitradurga city at 18:15. By the time I crossed the city limits and approached the A1 Plaza, it has started to get dark. So I pulled into the A1 plaza for a small break. I was feeling a bit tired and hungry. I ordered dosa and coffee as evening snacks and got freshen up in rest room, as well as cleaned up the visor. Didn’t expected the break to stretch to over 30minutes but it was well taken break.

Now it was complete dark and as I came out of the plaza on road, traffic was unexpectedly low. This section is well made 4 lanes so I was able to cruise at over 6k when I decided to stick to the back of a jeep. Unfortunately the driver pulled into the next town, leaving me to ride on the almost empty road, which I didn’t find too difficult to do. Maintaining close to 7k I was hurrying towards Tumkur, was hoping to make it to Bangalore in around 12hrs. As I approached Tumkur, one last section of bad road was waiting for me. It was already past 9pm and couldn’t do much now to make time till Bangalore. After crossing Tumkur the traffic has increased but thankfully it was all fast moving one. Soon I was passing the toll plaza just before Nelamangla. Right after crossing the toll plaza I got stuck in a slow moving traffic where one flat out going truck at 40km/hr was trying to overtake all the trucks moving in the left lane, in one attempt. Result was a crawling progress for couple of km’s. After the distance marker showed me 23km to Bangalore I took the next ‘U’ turn and headed towards the Reliance gas station which was right next to that 23km mark. It was almost 10pm now.

Return Leg – Bangalore to Pune
Filled up fuel quickly and collected the printed fuel receipt. Asked the attendant to click a few pictures and gulped some water along with chocolates. After a 10min break I was now heading back towards Pune, feeling a bit strange. Luckily the traffic was not much as I rode out of gas station. It was a slow progress till Tumkur due to little bit of traffic and then further slowed down due to the bad stretch at Tumkur. Once crossed Tumkur, I started to increase the pace with vehicle count reducing with every km I was going away from Tumkur. I was now riding almost alone on the road with occasional tuck, Volvo or a rare car to be seen. Probably the loneliness got to me and I started to feel tired. So I pulled over to road side to freshen up, washed face with water and resumed the ride after a 5min break. Since I resumed the ride I was feeling that the rear tyre is wobbling a little bit. Got scared on the thought of a puncture. But since that feeling was coming while going over uneven road surface, I decided to play it safe and fill in some air at Chitradurga.

Though it was closing on mid night, still I was not feeling much of cold probably thermals were doing their job well. At around 30 past mid night I reached Chitradurga and pulled into a gas station to get the air pressure checked. To my surprise the rear tyre pressure was 28 (instead of 32) and front was 23 (instead of 25), I inspected tyres for any nail but found none. After a 5min break I was back on road feeling more confident with scare of a puncture gone away. Now I was accompanied by slow moving occasional trucks making it difficult to ride with them and riding alone was a bit scary in middle of night. Soon I was passed by a jeep and I didn’t waste any time in following him. With almost no traffic on road even the bad stretches were easy to ride but at slower speed due to night time. As I crossed the first 100km I realized that it has taken me over 2hrs to do that and hence I’m running a bit behind schedule. To help me a couple of Volvos caught up with me and I parted away with the jeep and started to ride along with Volvos. Sadly soon we were brought to halt at a closed railway crossing but thankfully it didn’t last for more than couple of minutes. As we started few km’s later we were again stopped by the second railway crossing, resulting in wasting few more minutes there. Once crossing it I was escorted by two Volvos towards Hubli, though I was faster than Volvos but decided to stick with them till Hubli, after all I was in no mood to miss a diversion due to 35W headlight and then go for a offroading session in the middle of night.

It was just over 4am when we reached Hubli I pulled over to get fresh while Volvos were stuck at the toll booth but they got free before I expected and vanished into darkness leaving me getting ready to jump on bike. Now it was for me to see if Volvos were really slow or not. As expected halfway down the road to Dharwad I caught up with the Volvos, ripping on the empty dark road. This time I decided not to be slowed down by them and went ahead of them. I was really running late and hence have to make as much time as I can. In the process of that I decided to tank up just after Dharwad so that I can do a flat out run in an attempt to make it in time.

After I resumed from Dharwad it was already close to 5am and now I was felling a little bit of cold. The revs were almost close to 9k while I was zipping on the empty, dark and cold stretch of NH4. Don’t remember for how long I rode but soon I felt a bit tired and sleepy, not wasting any time I pulled over to a road side tea stall I saw (probably was close to Belgaum). As I removed my gloves and helmet, could feel the cold air in hands and face. Gulped down a couple of cup of hot tea and took a small cat nap. After a 10min break I was fresh again for the rest of ride.

There was almost no traffic on road still which was helping me in doing the pace I wanted, I knew I might not be able to make it in time but didn’t want to give up so early after putting in so much of efforts. Around 6:30am it started to get a bit bright and suddenly I felt as if mercury has gone for a bungee jump. It went cold all of a sudden and I was shivering due to it. Then I realized some water droplets on the fuel tank – early morning dew. As I was closing towards Pune I forgot about everything except that I need to try and reach Pune as early as possible. Sometime during this crazy rush to reach destination I crossed Kolhapur as if it didn’t exist, thanks to early morning time and no traffic on road.

It was around Satara when I realized that I’ll miss the mark by a very small margin as I was close to 9am when I crossed Satara with still 100+km’s to be covered to complete. Now I dropped the pace as it was humanly impossible to complete the needed distance in available time. As clock showed 9am I had just crossed the town of Surul and heading towards Pune. Suddenly I was feeling a bit tired and went into slow cruising mode. Around 9:45am I was crossing Katraj ghat thinking about nothing but my bed. Soon after bike hit reserve and I decide to head back home while filling up fuel.

At 10:45 I entered my home, looking and feeling tired with brain ready to hit the switch off button any instance. End of a ride I will not forget for a long time to come and a ride which showed me its really fun riding all along in the middle on a winter night. So till next time its sleeping time :-)

Some numbers to munch ;-)

  • Pune (09:00, 9410) – Start Point.
  • Satara (10:45, 9534) – 124km, 1hr 45min, 70.86km/hr.
  • Karad (11:20, 9583) – 49km, 35min, 84km/hr.
  • Kolhapur (12:10, 9653) – 70km, 50min, 84km/hr.
  • Belgaum (13:25, 9753) – 100km, 1hr 15min, 80km/hr.
  • Post Belgaum, picture break (13:35, 9763) – 10km, 10min, 60km.hr. 5min break.
  • Bike hit reserve at 9,793km.
  • Pre Dharwad at Reliance gas station (14:18, 9815) – 52km, 38min, 82.11km/hr. 5min break.
  • Post Hubli – At A1 Plaza for Lunch (15:10, 9869) – 54km, 47min, 68.94km/hr. 15min break. Food (Idli Sambar and Aquafina) for Rs 24.00.
  • Chitradurga (18:15, 10058) – 189km, 2hrs 50min, 66.71km/hr.
  • Post Chitradurga – At A1 Plaza, Food and Fuel Stop (18:25, 10064) – 6km, 10min, 36.00km/hr. 40min break. Food (Dosa and Coffee) for Rs 22.00.
  • Post Nelamangla – At Reliance Gas Station, Fuel Stop and Turn off Point (21:40, 10233) – 169km, 2hrs 35min, 65.42km/hr. 10min break.
  • First Leg Summary
    • Time Taken 12hrs 40min.
    • Distance Covered 823km.
    • Avg Speed 64.97km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 1hr 5min
  • Post Tumkur – Face wash and pee break (23:00, 10300) – 67km, 1hr 10min, 57.43km/hr. 5min break.
  • Chitradurga – Air Pressure Check (0:35, 10405) – 105km, 1hr 30min, 70km/hr, 5min break.
  • Hubli – Refreshing break (4:15, 10615) – 210km, 3hrs, 35min, 58.60km/hr, 5min break.
  • Post Dharwad – Fuel Stop (4:40, 10640) – 25km, 20min, 75km/hr, 5min break.
  • Pre Belgaum – Sleep and Tea break (5:20, 10686) – 46km, 35min, 78.86km/hr, 10min break. Tea for Rs 6.
  • Post Surul (9:00, 10981) – 295km, 3hrs 30min, 84.29km/hr.
  • Final Leg
    • Time Taken 11hrs 20min.
    • Distance Covered 748km.
    • Avg Speed 66.00km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 40min.
  • Trip Stats
    • Time Taken 24hrs.
    • Distance Covered 1,571km.
    • Avg Speed 65.46km/hr.
    • Time in breaks 1h 45min.
    • Fuel Consumed 50.68lt.
    • Fuel Cost Rs 2,700.
    • Mileage 32.08km/lt.
    • Food Cost Rs 52.

Lavasa – A Dream Fulfilled and some laws redefined

Lavasa

Lavasa – After Amby Valley, another dream city coming up near Pune, for those who have overflowing supply and reserve of green bucks, so what do it has for us? Well Richie rich’s do not travel on bad roads and hence along with exceptional houses, they also get great roads to reach there. Where in city, tax payers travel on roads providing them a free experience of traveling on lunar surface, just outside city we have some great roads for villagers to enjoy.

In past I missed a few chances to ride to the gate of Lavasa city, so when on 25th Oct 2006 evening a plan was made, I decided not to miss this chance and just simply ride. This was a ride to Lavasa where people from a News channel wanted to do a small program between the 150cc four stroke bikes from the current generation. Members of a local stunt group were riding the bikes to be featured in the program. I decided to explore the unknown territory on my trustworthy Fiero.

26th Oct 2006

News channel crew was coming from Bombay and hence the start of ride was delayed. After meeting up with the crew members and members of the bikers group, we headed towards Lavasa from Chandani Chowk.

From Chandani Chowk we took the road towards Mulshi. The surface of this road is a total contrast of what we have in Pune. In Pune where the tax payers are punished by giving them lunar surface, Villagers living on the road to Mulshi are rewarded with exceptionally great road surface.

Enjoying the ride, soon we reached at the start of Pirangut Ghat. There are two routes to reach Lavasa from here, you can either take a narrow road going to the left side from the start of Pirangut Ghat or you can rip down the Ghat at lightning pace, boosted by help from gravity and then take a left turn after Pirangut city.

We took the left road which is also short in distance. The road is wide enough for a car and a two wheeler to go side by side but the scenery and the winding road makes you forget the narrowness of the road. Few kilometers later we come out on a wide road which goes to Lavasa. This is the same road which comes from Pirangut city.

As we come out on the wide road, we start the climb to Mutha Ghat. The surface is great, road is well marked and very little bit of traffic. Possibly one of the best Ghat near Pune. A small halt was taken just after the climb of Mutha ghat for some shooting.
Mutha ghat Mutha ghat

View from Mutha ghat View from Mutha ghat

After spending some time, we resumed the ride towards Lavasa. Right after we come down Mutha ghat, road changes to wide, winding, unmarked road, still good enough to enjoy the ride.

As we reached the end of this section of road, we were greeted by a huge dam, under construction. There is a road going towards left which will take you to Lavasa city. As we take this road, the surface again becomes great, with proper markings and almost nil traffic.

As we took this road, lots of surprises awaited. As expected curves were all over the place but as I went a bit more ahead, hairpin bends greeted me. Having taken hairpin bends in past, I was well prepared but these hair pin bends were different. As we are in the middle of the turn and try to accelerate out of it, road suddenly vanishes in front of you and head towards sky.

While I was enjoying the ride, I made one basic mistake. Since I was following couple of riders, I mistakenly, instead of concentrating on the road, looked at the rider in front of me, who happen to miss the turn somehow and started to go straight, I followed him, perfect example of “target fixation”. Thankfully, as the road was going upwards, the speed was not too much and hence we both got enough time to correct the basic mistake made by us.

After we finish the hairpin turns, we have climbed to some height, which can be noticed by the slight drop in mercury. Soon the road was flat with twisties, as I was taking one curve I got a glimpse of a rider going off the road (enough run off area to park a few planes). Having just learned from the mistake made, I continued to concentrate on the line until I was out of the curvy section. Looked back, the rider was back on road after a small off-roading session. Hugging some more curves we reached the gate of Lavasa city being guarded by a bunch of security guards. While the media guys started to get back to work, I decided to sharpen my photography skills.

Lavasa Lavasa

Lavasa Lavasa

Lavasa Lavasa

After spending some time there, we headed back as it was well past lunch time of normal human beings. On the way back media crew stopped at one more location to click some quick shots. In the mean time I once again got busy with camera.

Lavasa Lavasa

As we were coming down there was a board asking us to check our brakes as a steep down hill section was about to begin. Coming down at high speed without good brakes is a adventurous way to take a nice dive into the Lavasa dam’s water.

With hunger has hit almost everyone, the speed was increased with the single aim to reach some hotel in quick time. The nearest hotel was at Pirangut. Around 4pm we reach the hotel for lunch and then called it end of day.

Since the shooting was not complete, people were going to come back next day as well. This presented me with a great chance to visit the great roads once again, under 24 hours.

27th Oct 2006

It was decided to start the day a bit early so that things can be wrapped up quickly. Once again we all grouped at Chandani chowk. While I was waiting for people, sun came out to give me company.
Sunrise Lavasa

Once everyone came, we all headed towards Lavasa. Today with couple of big bikes giving us company, I had decided to take the CBZ on the ride.

Though I was doing similar speed as compared to previous day but the sporty riding position and the exhaust sound was giving the ride sporty feeling. As I enter the winding roads, CBZ was in its element. Where Fiero, the previous day, was keeping me on the edge all the time, today riding the CBZ was a bit lazy, in the sense that not much feedback was required to be given to bike to get through the curves.

For today the shooting area was planned closer to the dam, preventing us from climbing all the way to the gates of Lavasa city.
Lavasa Lavasa

While the camera crew was setting up the equipment, some of us decided to pay a visit to the Lavasa gates. Better handling of CBZ combined with the experience of the road ride was mistake free and enjoyable. Soon we reached the Lavasa city gates. Me having some important appointment, started back soon. Riding down hill the better braking of CBZ’s disc brake was noticed. Where the disc on Fiero was feeling a bit spongy, CBZ disc was feeling strong.

By the time I finished my work in city, TV crew has finished their work so instead of returning back to Lavasa, I called it end of day and headed back to home.

29th Oct 2006

During a meeting with Dilip Bam previous day, while I gave the CBZ for servicing and took Unicorn from him, another plan to ride to Lavasa was made. The plan coincided with a ride plan of RDDreams members.
Sunrise Sunrise

Sunrise

The ride started early morning, once again from Chandani chowk. We were four of us on RD350, ZMA, Unicorn and Apache. It was a bit cold as we headed towards Lavasa.

Riding Unicorn on open and winding roads was a totally different experience as compared to Fiero and CBZ. For me the mono shock worked exceptionally well, giving me a comfortable riding experience. The slight increase in torque and bhp also showed its difference. So do the Honda chassis. If you can go fast on CBZ, on Unicorn you can go even faster. Handling of Unicorn has moved the bar to a level higher than where CBZ has put the bar to, this was noticed right from the climb to Mutha ghat and all the way through the hairpin bends to the gate of Lavasa city.

While we were taking those hair pin bends, call it luck or someone taking my exam. Rider in front of me, missed the same turn where I also ran wide on the first day, while following another rider. This time I retained my concentration on the line and as I came out of the turn, didn’t have to look back to see my co-rider as the roar of his RD closing on me signaled that he is back on the road.

By the time we all reached the gate of Lavasa city I had fallen in love with the handling and engine of Unicorn. Felt like riding up down Lavasa till bike runs out of fuel.

While we all were chatting at the top of Lavasa, I tried one more time to get a ride on Apache. Asked Dilip if I can ride down on Apache, after initial hesitation he agreed to swap the rides. Few minutes later we were riding back. The low sitting position (as compared to Unicorn) and slightly different riding position of Apache took me couple of turns to get used to. Once I got a hang of the slightly different riding position, I was spellbound by what happened next.

While I was going into a turn at 80+, I was about to ease on the throttle just before entering the turn when I got some sort of feedback from the bike and I just pointed the bike into turn at the same speed. As I was going in the turn and coming out of it, I was shell shocked by what happen. Have never ridden a bike taking turns like this. With every turn the confidence was climbing to a new height. The bike was taking the turns in a completely different but well behaved manner as compared to CBZ and Unicorn (two of the best handling).

What spoiled the fun was the spongy feel from the brakes while coming down the slopes. Missed the braking of CBZ/Unicorn. In couple of downhill turns when I carried too much of speed, as I shifted down, the rear TVS tyre showed their symptoms by sliding a little bit, few years back I would have loved this feeling but I’m getting old now. After crossing the hairpin bends, stopped to control my excitement.
Lavasa

Here when I told Dilip about the rear sliding during changing gears while the bike was leaned. I was pointed at another mistake, of not changing gear or applying brakes while bike is leaned into a corner.

Once we crossed Lavasa dam and headed towards Mutha ghat, there were plenty of ‘S’ bends and Apache has by now redefined the laws of riding on winding roads. Have not ridden a bike going through ‘S’ curves like Apache. I wish one day I could ride this bike on a race track.

Have not ridden through twisties at such a hot pace for quite some time now. One more place where Apache disappointed was lack of top end grunt, as compared to Unicorn.

After a lip smacking ride back, we headed towards Mulshi to stop at Dilip’s favorite place to have Missal-pav. After food, I was in no mood to hand back the keys of Apache to Dilip, so I got to keep the bike during the ride back to town as well. Normally my ride back home is slow and lazy but today with Apache for my company we rode back with the same excitement as if we are just starting a ride.

By the time I reached Chandani chowk, I was always waiting for the moment when I will be able to ride Apache for a longer duration.
So in past 4 days I have ridden to Lavasa thrice on 4 different bikes. So a quick summary about the experience on bikes.

First Fiero, though its fun to ride in twisties, the same rider will go faster on any of the other three bikes. Once the smoothest engine of Fiero now has to share that crown with Honda. In short, the newer bikes have improved to an extent that it will take better riding skills or dare devil acts to match the other bikes on Fiero.

Next is CBZ, the performance king of the 150cc segment. Bike which redefined the rules of handling, the crown bike owned for so long. Now has to share the crown with the two new kids on block (Unicorn and Apache). Engine really shows signs of age and need some upgrade to match the slightly more powerful new kids. Still this is the bike with the best riding position one can get for sporty/spirited riding.

Unicorn – The first bike from Honda in India. Mono shock, which does the job very well. Chassis and engine showing what Honda stands for. Over all an excellent bike to ride. Be it the twisties or be it the lunar surface. Only disappointment is the thin rear tyre, making it a bit scary to ride over gravel and loose surfaces.

Apache – I wish TVS came out with this bike instead of Fiero or at least F2. Though it’s no more the smoothest engine (Unicorn has grabbed the crown with both hands), it’s more fun to ride (Crown taken away from CBZ). The suspension is not as comfortable as that of Unicorn, over bumpy roads, slightly on stiffer side. But a bike, I’ll take any day to ride in twisties all day long.

Dilip asked me to make a decision which bike today I would like to own out of these four. Well there is no single bike I can buy. Back in 2000, I was in a similar confusion, my heart said CBZ but mind said Fiero and today, heart is saying Apache but the mind is saying Unicorn. This just shows one thing, though I have gotten old, my heart has remained young.

Disclaimer: The comments about bikes are based on my personal experience of riding them in twisties. Except for handling, braking and perfromance none other factors are considered.

Mahabaleshwar, 16 Sep 2006

Went for a small ride to Mahabi on Saturday. Nothing much to write about the ride, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking ;-)

Started around 9ish in morning. I had CBZ for the company. Right after I start the ride, CBZ odo hit 33,333.3

33,333.3

Tyre check, right after practicing cornering at Khambatki Ghat. Front is 2.75×18 Zapper FV and rear is 100/90×18 Zapper ‘Q’.

Tyres

Right after I climbed the ghat from Wai to Panchgani, went off towards a table top land. A view from there of the valley and hills.

View View View

Food: Pizza at Mapro

Pizza

Some view between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.

View View View View View

On NH4, riding into “heavy” rains.

On NH4 On NH4 Shades of clouds

Few meters before I enter into a rain zone of such magnitude, I have never ridden in my whole life on NH4. Rain was so strong that due to poor visiblity even cars had pulled over.

Rain zone Rain zone

On the way back, got a chance to ride thru the newely constructed but yet to “officially” open Katraj tunnel.

Distance covered = ~220km
Mileage = 31.74km/lt

Bidding adieu to rains

Rains are almost gone after creating havoc (exposing how much money to build roads, went into pockets of our politicians) in and around Pune city. So, we at BikeNomads decided to have a intercity meet (Bombay and Pune) at Tamahini Ghat. Nomads from Bombay took NH17 till Kolad before turning towards Tamahini Ghat whereas we Pune Nomads took the amazing road towards Mulshi from ChandaniChowk before heading towards Tamahini Ghat.

Looking at the condition of road to Mulshi from Chandani Chowk, which was build before rains, one is left wondering why do Pune roads are in such a bad condition whereas almost nothing has hapenned to Mulshi road. Specially when it rains much more in Mulshi area, as compared to Pune.

We were 5 Nomads from Pune on three bikes (Captain Nandu and his wife on Red Avenger, Me and Arpan on Black CBZ and Biswa on Red Pulsar 180 DTSi ‘Black’ edition). We started from Chandani Chowk at around 08:40am. Keeping the speed to around 60 for most of time, we enjoyed the greenery which will soon be gone. Our first stop was just before descending Pirangut Ghat, where Biswa and Nandu filled up their machines. Road were almost perfect and hardly wet due to no rains. So the twisties and straights were enjoyed by all the riders.

As we approached Mulshi gate the road got bad, still better than many of Pune roads. While passing the Mulshi gate, we stopped to take a view of the valley (sadly I lost all my pics clicked here due to a corrupted memory card). Next item on our agenda was to have breakfast. This time we decided to give our regular breakfast place a pass and stop ahead at Quick Bite. The place is much more cleaner and food is also tasty (looks like this will be our new halting point during future rides).

After breakfast we continued our ride, the road got bumpy and not in best of condition at many places. Potholes, gravel, stones (from landslides) were more frequent now, as we moved more and more away from civilization.

Nearing Tamahini, clouds started to gather and soon it started to drizzle which didn’t take too long to turn into rain, forcing us to take shelter. Time for another round of tea with which we enjoyed rain and clouds, which were all around us. (Again all the pics I clicked here are gone due to a corrupted memory card). As rain stopped we headed towards Tamahini, the road at the start of ghat was good but as we start the descend, potholes started to appear. Stopping everynow and then to admire and try to capture the beauty in our cameras, we headed towards the bottom of Tamahini ghat.

Reaching Ville we stopped there for Bombay guys to join us. It was all sunny with some dark clouds visible at horizon. It didn’t took long for those clouds to come closer and shower water all over the place.

After waiting for sometime, Bombay group consisting of One Gladiator, Two yezdi’s and a Fiero, arrived. Round of introduction with some discussion over tea followed. It was time for the combined group to ride up Tamahini ghat towards Quick Bite for lunch. Climbing up, while clicking some pictures, my camera’s memory card got corrupted, so I formatted it and lost all the good pictures I have clicked so far). Here are some pictures which I clicked after formatting the card.

Water fall at Tamahini Ghat Water fall at Tamahini Ghat
From top of Tamahini Ghat From top of Tamahini Ghat

The progress of group towards lunch destination was a bit slow but with not many stops, lead group stopping for the backmarkers (me and arpan being at the end of group) to catch up. Arpan now decided to take more roles than being just a pillion. So he started to count how many times the rear suspension of CBZ bottomed out going over the bumpy roads and also shared some of his photographic skills.

Towards Mulshi Valley of Clouds

Like always, the lead group has once again stopped just before the turnoff towards Lonawala for us to catch up. Here I decided to venture out on the route towards Lonawala to click a valley I got to know about on my office discussion forum. Arpan was not too keen to ride as pillion looking at the road condition but Biswa was interested to come. So Arpan and Biswa swapped positions. Praveen also followed us with his wife on Gladiator, while the rest of group headed towards lunch destination.

The road was bumpy and the climb was steep at many places that CBZ needed to be pulled in 1st or 2nd gear with pillion. With the road being wet and broken at many places, bike could loose momentum at crucial places. Finally after a couple of km’s ride we reached the destination. We parked the bikes on road side and started to walk towards valley. The route was slippery enough that one mistake and one would spend his whole life at the bottom of valley living like Tarzan (in case he survived the fall).

Amazing Valley enroute to Lonawala Golf course?

After spending a few minutes near the valley we headed to meet up with the rest of group over lunch.

Mulshi Lake

As we reach Quick Bite, the rest of group has already ordered lunch, making it easy for me to decide which is the best dish to order. As it turned out the “combo” meal was the most favourite amongst us. During lunch I got to know about one Nomad (Ronaldo) who has walked all over from Pune to Bombay. It was really nice meeting up with so many people for the first time. After lunch, it was time for a group snap.

(L to R) Nandu's Wife, Captain Nandu, Arpan, Partha, Praveen and his wife, Duke, Roaldo (person who has walked from Pune to Bombay)

Bombay group has decided to return via Lonawala and for that they will take the road from Mulshi. Like always me and Arpan were right behind everyone and while trying to shoot this picture we missed the opportunity to see off Bombay group.

Rainbow

Ride now was going to be borin as we were heading back to city limits which means, traffic, pollution, bad roads and what not. Around 05:00pm we reached Chandani Chowk, covering around 170km round trip (Bike gave an average of just over 34km/lt during the ride). After a small chat we all dispersed towards our destinations.

Rain ride – Mulshi, 30 July 2006

Maharashtra, the country of great Shivaji maharaj and one of the best destinations if you are a travel freak. Central Indian tableland merges with undulating hill ranges, which grow into the majestic Western Ghats before swooping down to palm-fringed beaches. Place where you can explore Caves, Temples, Forts, Beaches, Hills, Forests, etc. One of the best place to be in if you love to travel. Only thing missing here is snow clad mountain peaks.

Summer is not the best time to travel in this part of country because of heat. Monsoon and winters are the best time to explore this place as during rains the complete country side is covered with a layer of greenery everywhere. So as soon as monsoon arrived in this part of country I decided to plan my rides.

It was some time back that I have ridden to Goa and also it is over a month that I’m riding Victor Edge. Every weekend I plan to go for a small ride to Mulshi on the bike and every weekend it keeps on getting cancelled due to some or the other reason. So I was very firm on the decision to go on ride this weekend. Came Sunday morning and I started to get ready for the ride. As I switched on TV, every news channel is showing different places in Maharashtra and Gujarat caught in floods. Many places in Maharashtra including Pune were in the list of flooded cities. As I look outside my window, there is no sign of rain and sun is also peeking out of clouds every now and then. I put on rain coat over riding gear and head down towards bike to kick start the much needed rdie.

Just after 9am I reach Chandani Chowk and wait for Dilip Bam to arrive. He arrives in few minutes, riding the new 125cc Honda Shine. Soon we start our ride on the recently widened SH60 towards Mulshi. The road is wet but in amazing condition, hardly any potholes, as compared to the roads oops you can not call what we got in Pune as “roads”.

Right after we started the ride we stopped for breakfast. When you are riding with Dilip Bam the menu for breakfast is mostly Ussal Pav and Missal Pav.

There is another good thing about riding with Dilip Bam, you will be taken to some of the roads which you might not have ever visited. Just before hitting Pirangut Ghat we went off the main road to climb up a small hill. It is too windy here but gives a very nice view of the Pirangut Ghat.
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Since we are riding towards Mulshi, the direction from where all the clouds are coming towards Pune, we are greeted with sessions of no rains to drizzle to heavy rains. We took lots of breaks on the way to Mulshi. As we reach the main gate of Mulshi we took the road towards the house of one of Dilip’s friend. As we start the climb, road started to get narrow and broken at many places.

After negotiating a few hair pin bends we stop on a relatively flat surface. The view of the Mulshi dam and near by places is great from here.
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As I talk to Dilip about the destination of this route I got to know that this is one more way to reach Lonawala. Though this route is also scenic with Mulshi Dam on one side and hills covered in clouds and having numerous small to big waterfalls coming down, on the other side but still the other route that I have taken last time to reach Lonawala via Mulshi is more spectacular.

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I knew that we will not get much dry sections to click pictures so I came prepared so that I can click pictures even if it is raining. As I stopped to shoot some waterfalls, it started to rain, so I decide to try out my idea to click pictures in rain and this is what I manage to do. In the picture there are the two 125cc machines along with Dilip Bam.
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Though in summer it is not much of fun to get out of Pune to ride, but in rains one can spend numerous weekends exploring the nearby places. Short on time, we are not able to stop every now and then to enjoy nature and click pictures, trying to capture the beauty in still images.
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The road at places is not in good condition. Water is flowing over the road at many places. At many places gravel has come out of potholes and got collected on road making it difficult to ride over it, especially when it is in a curve. Soon we reach house of Dilip’s friend. It is located at a very scenic location with the view of Mulshi Lake right in front of it.

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After spending around 30 minutes we start our ride back. While riding back I started to make plan for my next ride, which will be to reach Lonawala via this route and return via the other route (the one I have used to reach Lonawala last time around).

As planned we stop for a picture in the small section covered with trees.
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Here after taking the pictures, Dilip made a surprise announcement, “Time to swap bikes”. As we resume the ride, I flick my leg over Shine and immediately I can notice a few differences from Edge. With Dilip immediately shooting off the block, I decide to take it easy in the beginning, trying to get used to the bikes handling, braking properties. With Dilip not in sight I decide to stop and click some more pictures.

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Few minutes later I catch up with Dilip as he has stopped road side for a fag break. I park the bikes next to each other and decide to click one picture. Once again this image is taken while it is raining.
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As we are approaching main road we could see more and more weekend travelers out of busy city life, enjoying themselves in the clean pollution free climate of hills. You can find people in big group’s right next to each of a decent sized water fall.
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Once again as we start, Dilip just shoots off in distance with me taking it easy with the brand new bike, just 500 odd kilometers on the odometer. Having a nice time riding Shine I reach the beginning of the hairpin bends to reach Mulshi, meet up with Dilip here.
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As we reach back Mulshi we decide to head back towards Pune as we are running out of time, it is already well past 2pm. While we are riding towards Pune, we can see many people still riding/driving towards Mulshi. As we are approaching Paud village, Dilip pulls over to venture out to the banks of overflowing river near by. He being an experienced tracker, just starts walking through the water filled slushy fields towards river leaving me behind thinking about insects etc which might be there in the water or the muddy field. Looking around for an alternate route, I found one a few meters away. This is a route made by farmers who would be taking this to reach their fields. To reach the river I still have to walk across muddy field. After I reach the overflowing river, the view is worth all the efforts taken. Following is the snap of the hill, which was always taken from the road side. In another picture you can see the overflowing river.

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While walking back towards road I see a snake like animal just crossing the muddy track right in front of me. It was enough to make me run and quickly get back to the road. I am feeling hungry now so we decide to take a stop at Paud village for another round of Ussal Pav and Missal Pav for lunch. Post lunch Dilip again zooms off riding Edge leaving me enough time to analyze Shine with my past experience with Edge. Well lots of useful observations to put them down in another article.

As I am riding towards Pune, signs of rain is reducing with occasional drizzle only to make the roads wet all the way, except for Pirangut Ghat which is having road dried out completely at many places.

Enjoying the end of a small ride I reach Chandani Chowk where Dilip is already waiting for me to swap the bikes again and to end the ride.

The ride was a much needed starter of a never ending multi course meal. Hoping to hit SH60 back again on the coming weekend.