This weekend Cafe Bullet Goa had its annual ride to Kumbharli, a beautiful place in the Sahyadri mountain range half way between Panaji and Mumbai. This was the planning meeting for the big annual ride to the Himalayas in a couple of months. There were 11 riders from Goa and 5 from Mumbai.
The Goan riders assembled at the Mapusa bus stand at the unearthly hour of 5 am on Saturday and started riding along NH 17 northwards. Around the same time the folks from Mumbai started riding southwards. They didn’t take the NH 17. Instead they took the coastal route and managed to get lost for a couple of hours as well. 😉
Starting a ride at 5 am sounds like a crazy thing to do. We did that to miss the hot afternoon sun. The other thing about starting a ride at 5 am is you get to see the sun rise as you are riding. There cannot be a better way to start a day. I remember reading somewhere that sunshine on chrome is the best wake up call for a rider. I knew exactly how that felt on Saturday morning.
After riding around 100 kms we stopped for breakfast at our usual hangout at Kankavli – Hotel Ashish
I have be traveling on NH 17 for a couple of decades now. I have never seen it in a better state than what is is now. Not a single pot hole. Most of it has recently been hot-mixed, which makes riding a pleasure. The ride to Kumbharli was absolutely fantastic. However, as with any Indian highway there were the usual horrifying scenes along the way.
Kumbharli is a valley that sits on the road that connects NH 17 with NH 4. If you are riding from Goa you need to take a right at Chiplun and then climb a ghat which is a rider’s dream. The slopes are gentle and the roads winding. Here is a panoramic view of the valley from my hotel room.
Click to enlarge
The valley in itself is breathtaking.
With nothing much to do in the evening we ended up passing our time by observing the police chowki just next to our hotel. Every truck that passed needed to bribe the cop on duty by handing him a ten rupee note. Here is a cop with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.
Check out this absolutely glorious sunset picture taken by Anoop Agrawal.
It was quite chilly at night and we huddled around a small campfire as we began the process of intoxication. The poison this year was Goan Cashew Feni. Some of us didn’t like the way the way the papads were being served. So we starting frying them ourselves using the campfire.
I guess you put a bunch of Goans with Cashew Feni in one place and creativity is bound to flow. 😉
The next morning I went for a solo ride on the Kumbharli ghat. So that made it a second day in a row of waking up to sunshine on chrome.
It was quite interesting to see a bunch of monkeys firm up their plans for breakfast. 😉
After breakfast we headed back home.
I made some new friends and got to know some old ones a little better.
On the way back we stopped for lunch at Hathkhamba and then for tea at Kankavli. The ride back was quite exhausting since we had to deal with the hot April sun. Our heavy riding gear didn’t make things easier either. But that’s the fun in riding.
As I parked my filthy bike home I noticed that in all I had ridden 714 kms over the past two days. A truly awesome experience.