The past few weeks had been rather hectic. Plenty of trips, but more a case of more work and less play. Plus the sight of watching the horses sitting idle in the corral had begun to get on the nerves. There hadn’t been much time on the road since the 2015 edition of Royal Enfield Rider Mania and it was time to let loose.
Dawn arrived on Saturday and the missus n me, set out. The plan was to ride out onto NH3, feast on the twisties of Kasara Ghat and then seek a trail to roughen things up a little. The fact that there was a lake set against the clear skies and some good sized mountains in the backdrop only sweetened the deal. Along the way to NH3, were a series of halts, tiny stops whose sole purpose was to rendezvous with the boys joining along for the ride.
First up was Nikhil with his CBR250R (Baroness) at the check-naka that signaled the end of the city. Next was Sigmund with his T-Bird 500 (Vantage) at the Ghodbunder turn-off, before heading out to catch up with Akshay on his T-Bird 350 & Kshitij joining us on his Duke200. Hotfooting it onto NH3, we met up with the final two of the bunch – Vikram on the Machismo & Abhijeet on the Unicorn. Traffic was light and the sun was yet to make an appearance, so it was all about rider & ride striking a steady rhythm on the tarmac.
The sun did come out in glorious fashion and the photo-op was there for the taking, so everyone pulled over for a bit. Re-joining the road, it was back on the gas and before we knew it, the stomach had started to rumble. Time for some breakfast then and Kamath’s appeared right on cue. Pulling into the parking lot, we realized that Abhijeet had missed us all and continued riding. Frantic calls ensued but there was no response – the man was on a ride and nothing would come in between.
Maybe we were all just famished or the fact that we had to live up to the #HauryaBikers tag, but we’d ordered enough breakfast to feed a small army. Much to the amusement of the other patrons there, the plates were polished off rather quickly. Getting back into the saddle was a rather reluctant task but the twisties of Kasara were calling, so off we went onto the tarmac again.
Stopping at the food-stalls just before the ghat-section begins is something of a ritual. For us though, it was also to finally catch up with Abhijeet who’d skipped breakfast earlier. Traffic was starting to build up and we decided to make the most of whatever little opportunity we had. The beauty of one-way ghats is that one can focus on the lines, rather than worrying about nasty surprises coming up on us from the opposite side. Speed is never an aim, and yesterday this came even more strongly to the fore. The road up the ghat was lined with people making their bare-foot pilgrimage to Shirdi-Nasik. With a picnic like atmosphere and heavy vehicles trundling up the ghat, there was no chance of taking any undue-risks for most of the section. It was only on the final stretch that the opportunity came to open the throttle a bit.
Ghat done, time to stop and take in the view at the top. But not before we hop across to the opposite side where the lush-green valley lay in wait for us. Like digitally-starved folks, each one got busy with their respective social uploads. Would have loved to spend some more time there, but that would have to come another day. Igatpuri beckoned and how.
Turning off and navigating our way through, it was time to leave civilization behind for a bit. The tarmac had disappeared and the narrow trail called out to come explore. The water soon came into sight and we had arrived at our destination. A quick photo-op later, it was time to stretch out under the tree in the distance.
The real fun lay in reaching it though and that is where the ‘Fun’ kicked up another gear. Following the contours of the land, over the ditches, the mounds and the shrub-lined fields, we finally climbed our way to the tree. Shade found, bikes parked, it was time to kick back, relax and let nature work its miracle.
Hours went by, tales were shared; laughter and leg-pulling galore; a few of us even had our power-nap. Sadly, hunger-pangs were back and with a vengeance at that. The sun shining brightly overhead was cutting us no mercy either. With heavy hearts and parched throats we decided to bid adieu to our stop-over of serenity. But not before promises were made of returning again someday, sometime soon.
The Missus was riding her first rocky trail and naturally had her reservations on the trip back to the tarmac. But some enthusiastic encouragement and other wordly advice later, she decided to give it a try. The climb down from the hill had the trickiest spot (for her) and all of us had our own thoughts on it. Just as we thought she’d cleared it, boom! We had touchdown (Yelp!). Thankfully the bike was alright, no broken levers or anything. The missus did have a nasty welt on her ankle and the knee was starting to swell up bad. But there were no broken bones & she was more worried about the bike – which is always a good sign.
Not wanting to take any further risks, we left her bike at the spot and rode out to level ground with her riding pillion. Brucey and I then ran a second trip to fetch her bike. Things were alright, so we decided to continue with her back in her saddle. Getting back onto NH3, the Kasara twisties beckoned again. Enroute however, the old Royal Enfield joke came true once again. The battery cover on Brucey’s Machismo flew off at highway speeds. Nikhil who was riding behind missed becoming a victim thankfully. The lock on the cover had sheared off and it was the ol’ bungee-cord #jugaad to the rescue. With it holding the battery & the cover firmly in place, we quickened the pace for the stomach was growling once again.
The return leg down Kasara ghat was over before we knew it though and went off beautifully, thanks to the minimal traffic. We soon rode into the restaurant and true to reputation, ordered us a feast. The food turned out to be excellent and everyone settled in for the kill. Hunger sated, it was time to go hunting for the nearest hammock. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. The city beckoned unfortunately, and we got onto our bikes and hit the road again.
Don’t know how it is with others, but for me, the return leg of the journey takes longer, is tougher and the road seems to never end. The sun was starting to set and we were droning on. By the time the Bhiwandi turn-off came, the road was jammed. We knew then that things were going to get really painful. Bidding adieu to each other, we decided to part ways. The last 40-odd kilometres was going to tax us out completely and we steeled ourselves for it. The dust, the congestion; unruly crowds and the generally crumbling infrastructure all had returned to bite us in the ass. Two never-ending hours later, the ordeal finally ended. Walking up through the door, it was time to freshen up, gulp down the meds and drift off into the night.
Now for the Full Image Galleries:
Starting with Akshay’s Clicks:
Next up is Brucey:
Then comes Sigmund:
And my Cam: (Nikhil’s & the rest to be added as they share ’em)
Such an amazing, fun-filled time; a truly lovely way to spend the Saturday – all thanks to those who made it. Long live motorcycles and the lure of the open road \\m//