A bike ride makes you feel something that is not imaginable. It makes u know, feel, the love between the road and the tyres, the affection between the suspension and the forks, the life-like hum of a cruising engine, the kiss between the piston ring and cylinder lining, and so much more. And its this feeling that makes u ride, makes u vrrooom.
I’m yet another bike lover, and its impossible to separate this addiction from any biker. I’m not the only one, there are many others as well. Vijay (Vj), Ankush, Sudeep, Hemant to name a few who were dying to get a Road trip organized. It did finally, on 3rd Feb 2007, and the destination was Lonavala. Lonavala being the closest to Mumbai and linked with exceptionally good roads.
Ankush had come from Pune, and was to pick his friend, Poonam, from Malad @ 5.45am. Vj had to meet him @ Uncles’ Kitchen close to 6.00 and get Hemant along the way to finally meet me @ Vakola Signal on the highway. But nothing goes as planned. I called Vj in the morning around 5.30 to know that Hemant had dropped from the plan. We were left with only 3 bikes, Vj, Ankush and myself. Luckily we had only 6 total riders, with Sudeep and Amol Rajoba joining Poonam as the pillion riders. Fine.
Vj called me around 6.10 that he and Ankush were now on the highway and would be there at Vakola, Santacruz(E) in another 10 mins. I lept off my couch, where I’d been watching FA Cup Football since 5.30. Got into my jacket, shoes, helmet. Put the bag on my shoulders… and there I was… heading for my first bike trip. At the basement, I got my engine firing, felt its vibration on the fuel tank, and put my Honda Unicorn into gear heading towards Vakola.
I’d been waiting for not more than 3min. when I got a call from Vj, he was searching for me. I looked behind, as expected he was on the other side of the crossing, I waved back at Anksuh and Vj, Sudeep spotted me. Soon we were cruising well above 60kmph along the Western Express highway. Amol Rajoba was waiting at the KalaNagar stop since 6.00, when we met him, it was close to 6.45. Full on capacity, our bikes were ready to move ahead without a stop. We rode only till Sion where Ankush had to take a leak, I joined him. Its always good to join friends on good deeds We introduced ourselves there near “Sulabh Sauchalaya”, what a place to greet each other in the Morning.
Good deeds done, We were on Eastern Express highway then pulling off from the highway towards Chembur that led us towards Vashi. As soon as Chembur had gone past us, the road became clear and our bikes started pulling us faster (thanks to the accelarator). We were moving around 70+ kmph on the Mankhurd-Vashi bridge. With trucks, cars and other vehicles, we all enjoyed the feeling of power under our seats. Ankush’s baby, Bajaj Pulsar delivered a displacement of 180 cc, while that of Vj’s TVS Apache and mine displaced 150. Enough to make u feel the power
At Vashi, Ankush moved away from the main road, towards Palm beach road. This was it, my first attempt to go 100+. And the road was helpful. We all instinctively raced ahead with all the power that we could muster, raging ahead. Within seconds, I looked at my speedometer’s arm, it was moving towards 100, and soon it was just ahead. I was thrilled, excited, rather I don’t have any words to describe it. With the gush of wind so strong that can blow u away. I had gripped the handle hard enough, and the accelerator even harder . Oh !!! Heaven… I tried to gauge how much more I could accelerate. There was little, but still there was something. The turns were very light, making sure that the speed need not be dropped. But as always good things have to come to an end. The Palm beach road had to meet the Panvel city.
As we crossed Panvel city, and back onto the highway, I could see the sun just peeping over the hills, the Orange bulb, just brightening things around. We all decided we had to make a small stop for some snaps. I’d got my new Canon PowerShot S3 IS, just the last day. Ankush too captured the moments in his Sony H2.
Sudeep was interested in riding my bike, So I asked Rajoba to move on Vj’s bike and I became the pillion rider, with my camera hanging on around my neck. We moved ahead, straight into the sun, when I managed to capture this photo. We were riding over 70+, When I somehow managed to get this snap.
As we moved ahead, I kept the camera with me, instead of the bag and grabbed some more moving images.
We then cruised smoothly on the beautiful Mumbai Pune NH 4, with Sudeep enjoying the power. We took a small stop just ahead of Panvel where Ankush got his fuel tank quench its thirst. Later… it was so smooth, bliss. Smooth roads, calm, yet humming engine, and the road. In an hour or so we were close to Khopoli, where we had a stop at “Genuine Vada Pav”, I don’t know what was genuine about it, but the vada was good. With more vadapavs, the staple food of a Mumbaikar, and sweet tea. Our guts were happy as well.
I got the control of my bike there, cause I always wanted to ride the ghats. Soon enough, we had a tunnel, a small one but still wonderful to drive through, with our headlights blazing … and speeds over 70kmph. Further ahead we joined the Mumbai Pune Expressway for the Ghat section. Now this road was even wider, better, smoother. That just raised our adrenaline to go even faster. All this time I wondered why are we moving so fast, is it safe. I bet those who rode along, knew it was safe enough (That was for all non-bikers ). I and Ankush were ahead when we couldn’t't see Vj anywhere around. so we decided to stop and take pics at the Khopoli ghat, We parked our bikes at the side. After 10min or so, Vj came. With bad news. He and Amol had slipped near the ghats, luckily nobody was injured, apart from slight bruises. Vj’s fork was bit misaligned, but rest was good.
Lonavala wasn’t very far away from there, another 15-20 min. of ride took us there, amidst all the Chikki, Fudge shops. Poonam had to go to Pune, so we let her off at Lonavala station. I too had my fuel tank full, while we decided on our next destination. Pauna dam, Ambe valley or the Tata Power dam. We decided to go to Pauna dam, and later on the way towards the Tata Power dam.
We took a shortcut for Pauna dam, which was a typical village road, have paved, with rocks, pebbles, etc. but we managed to move ahead. We saw ourselves climb a mountain, Ankush pointed out Lohagad’s “Vinchu kataa”. We were on the back side of Lohgad. The route was very serene, calm. Yet again I managed to get the Cam, and we had some more shots.
As we moved closer to the Pauna dam, we could see the huge water body surrounded by mountains, on the way I got a snap of a beautiful Temple, I think that it was.
As we reached Pauna dam, we had some more shoots. And the dam was closed. we couldn’t get in. and to add to the misery, Photography was not allowed. But we’d already got some snaps before reaching the dam. We halted there, had water and lots of Chocolate that Vj had got.
We decided to move ahead on the highway back again towards lonavala. Ankush knew a Dhaba where we could have lunch. So back again on the village road, winding, turning, sometimes bumpy. We saw many villas and probably one of the owners rushing Audi that almost came into us. We reached the highway where the road stretch was the best that we’d experienced so far. A nice tar road, which seemed to be laid recently. And the road itself was along the hills, winding. Broad road. We cruised to our hearts extent on that one, till we came to the Dhaba, Sunny’s Dhaba. Was more of a wide hotel, than a actual Dhaba.
We parked our bikes in its shed, and refreshed ourselves, and ordered for food. We were having our food when we all looked behind to see what was causing a strong roar of an Engine, we thought it was some truck. To our amazement came in 3 bikes, Kawasaki Ninja (I guess), Honda CBR and Suzuki Hayabusa. The bikes were amazing, and so was its roar. 3 middle-aged guys jumped from it. We still kept staring.
With some rest and more gazing at the bikes, we finally decided to move on. Our next stop was going to be Tata power dam. It wasn’t far ahead, we took a right on the road which led us to its gate. At the gate we were disappointed to know that no cameras were allowed. So somebody had to stay back, Since I and Anksuh both had been to the dam before, we decided to stay back, while Vj, Sudeep and Amol went ahead. I and Ankush laid on a बाकडा (bench) listening to songs on Amol’s mobile. They came back in another 15 mins, and we hoped on our bikes back on the road. In the main Lonavala city, Ankush said that we could still go to Ambe valley, which was not accessible to visitors, but the road towards it is good. No one refused. Ambe Valley.
Yet again, the road didn’t disappoint, a very steep winding road along the valley, that kept climbing, it was around 12km from Lonavala, all of it in the ghats, and yet neat road. Ankush wanted to ride my bike, so he was the rider on Unicorn and Sudeep on his Pulsar, racing ahead. The ride was good, apart from a small incident when I and Ankush were on a steep turn, when we suddenly stopped cause of a truck, and Ankush lost his balance, and I’d to jump back from the seat, and support Ankush to stabilize the bike. There on, we came to Lions’ point, where Sudeep was waiting, and more snaps.
We went ahead to Ambe valley, where we had water at its gate, and then decided to return back to Mumbai, it was close to 4.10. On the way back, yet again down the hill we enjoyed the ride, this time I was alone on my Unicorn. We stopped at a chikki shop where we purchased some sweets, etc. We decided that the next stop would be nowhere before Panvel, but… everybody needs to take a leak, within a minute, we parked our bikes on side…. hmm… everything calm…
Back on the road, @ 80+ kmph, we enjoyed every moment and movement. In another hour and half’s time we were in Panvel where Ankush had a little petrol into his bike. Even after all this long, we coudln’t satisfy our hunger for speed, yet again we moved towards Palm Beach road, for which we even got lost. But the road waited for us, so did the dial to meet the pointer @ 100 kmph. … vroom….
At Vashi, we halted for a second, where we bid Ankush good bye, he moved straight ahead towards Thane, while we took a left for Mumbai. The road till Mankhurd was great, But then the Mumbai traffic caught us, it never left us till we reached home. At Bandra, I parted with Vj and Sudeep who’d to go ahead till Borivali, I dropped Amol at Bandra reclaimation, and I reached home close to 7.30.
A good, smooth, fast ride for the day had come to an end.