Bike rides

This happened in January but I figure it’s not too late to write about my bike ride to Goa and back, especially since I count these two rides as the best of my life and real formative experiences in my motorcycling life.

When Anoop and I did this trip last time en-route to Trivandrum, it took us two days to cover the 530 kms to Goa, so when I set off from Pune at about 8 am, I figured I’d reach Goa sometime the next day. The weather was just perfect - mild winter sun, clear blue skies, and the road was flat and smooth. I headed down NH4 at a good clip, stopping once for chai somewhere south of Satara. Further on, I took the Chiplun turn-off, a stunning crossing from NH-4 to NH-17 and reached Chiplun at lunchtime. Quick break for lunch and a reassesment of my itenerary revealed that if I pushed I might just reach Goa before the end of the day. So I pushed it like a maniac all the way down NH-17 until about 1630 hrs, when the fatigue started to kick in.

 I was really starting to fade and needed a break yet the urgency of reaching Goa remained. I decided against a break, instead figuring I’d ride the next hour or so at a comfortable 60kmph. No sooner had I slowed down than I was passed by a red Pulsar, similarly loaded with luggage (he wasn’t bogged down by a paraglider though, lucky bastard) and clearly going my way. Perfect. I just follow. It was sweet, with the Pulsar clearing the way for me I could really relax and take some time to enjoy the ride too. About an hour afterwards I figured I’d relaxed for enough time and squeezed the throttle. As I passed my unknown benefactor I figured I’d give him a little wave, but we were on a turn and I couldn’t see his face. No matter. A little further on I stopped for fuel. After tanking up I waited by the highway, smoking a cigarette, for the guy to pass, but he never did. Strange I thought. There was nowhere else to go. Anyways, I remembered his license plate number - MH04 CN 7147 - and figured I’d bump into him somewhere in Goa perhaps. I was already thinking of him as some sort of guardian angel who appeared when I needed him and then disappeared immediately afterwards.

I pushed on through the gathering gloom, crossing Sawantwadi in the dark. Getting into Goa in the dark is usually horrible with everyone on full high beam and speed almost impossible, yet on that day, there was almost zero traffic. In the end I reached my destination at 2030 hrs, a straight 12 and a half hour burn from Pune to Goa, with perhaps an hour spent on breaks. I was dog tired, but immensely happy. I’d done 560 kms (double my previous best) and made it to Goa in a single day. It was a rare achievement, and one of which I was inordinately proud. And imagine my surprise when the tripmeter (which I’d reset in Mumbai the previous day) read out my guardian angel’s license plate number - 714.7 kms. Shocking coincidence? I think so.

Coming back was actually even better. I remember nothing of the ride. I set off late, 1122 hrs, and was suffering from a runny nose and stomach likewise, so I figured I’d reach Kolhapur by evening, then carry on to Pune the next day. Right after Sawantwadi, I took the Amboli ghat via Gadhinglaz and Sankeshwar. It’s probably the shortest route from Goa and it was a happy accident for me to find it. At 1530 hrs, I was blowing past Kolhapur at 120 kph with a big smile on my face. Another four hours of high speed burn, and I was down Katraj ghat and in Pune at 1922 hrs - eight hours from Calangute to Pune. I was flush with endorphins and took about two days to come down from this ride, by far the best of my life. It was 420kms, a full 160 clicks shorter than the ride out.

Before these two rides, I was of the take-it-slow and enjoy-the-ride variety, but now I find that these endurance tests, these marathon high-speed biking sessions are far more fulfilling.