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.

Riding on the ‘Edge’

Sun, 18 June 2006. Gave the CBZ for servicing, since I got late giving the bike, I will not get it back the same day. So was doing some thinking while walking down towards the main road, to pick an auto-rickshaw for my office, so that I can ride my Fiero from there.

Suddenly it strike me that house of Dilip Bam is just a km or so away, so called him up (hoping he is in town, normally its difficult to catch him in town on a weekend). To my luck he was at home. Cancelled my original plan and walked to his house. After chatting for over couple of hours, I asked him if I can get a bike to ride for couple of days. He agreed upon and handed me key of TVS Victor Edge.

Took a glance at the bike and swing my leg over it. First feel was the seat is nicely padded and the riding posture reminded me of the ideal sitting position when working on a computer. The handlebar is positioned nicely low down giving a very relaxed riding posture. The bike got central locking, no need to bend front to look for handle lock. After getting some info from Dilip about the different position of fuel tap (pointing down is main, pointing up is reserve and middle is the off position) and gear shift pattern (4speed, shift patter all up) etc. I was off towards the gas station as the bike was almost running on fumes. Filled in ~1.8lt and decided to do some city riding before going to office.

Performance is quite decent. Can’t expect more out of a 124.8cc 4st single cylinder, air cooled, mill that is churning out 9.2bhp of power at 7000rpm and 1kgm of torque at a very low 4000rpm. With the bike weighing slight over my Suzuki Fiero at 117kg, it is neither too heavy nor too light to ride. Thankfully the bike boasts front disc (240mm), stopping the machine in time was not too much of a problem for me. Not that I don’t think drum would be insufficient, having spend over 6yrs riding two wheelers to their limit having only drum brakes to do the stopping, I like disc for their overall efficiency over drums. The rear is a normal 130mm drum doing well to stop the bike.

The bike I’m using got alloy wheels which looks nice, riding a bike with alloys for the first time. The front wheel size is 1.6×17 spotting a 90/90×17 size tyre, something unusual in this class of bikes. The rear is more conventional one with the wheel size of 1.85×18 with a tyre of 3.00×18 doing the duty.

The bike got a rectangular swing arm along with gas-charged shocks without any external bottles (whats seen on the gas-shocks of bullet/pulsar).

The complete switch gear having turn-push-cancel indicator switch, head light on/off and low/high beam selector, horn which is louder enough, day light flasher, choke, is on the left hand side leaving the right hand to just play with the throttle.

The console is twin pod with the left one used as speedometer and odometer and the right one a fuel gauge also featuring twing lights for economy and power mode (I think which works based on the throttle position). Above these twin round pods are the lights to show the indicator status.

About the ride impression. I guess it needs better rubber at rear (may be I’m spoiled by Michelin M45’s) didn’t find any problems in taking turns on dry tarmac. The turns are taken at the similar ease as I have done on my other bikes.

The most impressing part about the bike is its rollon capabilities. Slot the bike in 4th and you can ride all the way at speeds as low as 25km/hr without any problem and when needed you can easily accelerate to speeds upto 90km/hr. Above that you need more road space and probably some downwards slope.

After my office took the highway route to home and managed to touch 100km/hr without much problem (sitting upright). The thing which surprised me was that the bike was very stable at that speed even with some amount of cross wind and turbulence while passing trucks.

There are hardly any vibrations but the bike feels comfortable enough for a 80km/hr all day long cruising. Riding above that for too long and I got a very little bit of sensation in my right hand.

So far, having covered close to 50km over all sort of roads. Smooth surface, bumpy roads, broken roads with many potholes big and deep enough to shake your body, roads in incomplete state. So far the bike has stood upto the challange.

Will be getting the CBZ back today eve but I’m tempted and gonna request Dilip, if I can keep this bike for few more days. Even if that means parking the CBZ at his house, is not a bad deal. After all the fuel price has gone up in the wrong direction.

Yet to ride the bike in rains/wet roads and in night. Not yet able to check the mileage either. Hope Dilip agrees and I’m able to put some more miles and collect some more data about the bike to share with all of you.

PS: All speeds were as shown on the speedo.