My Realm

Meet me - know me - read my posts and try to figure me! Well I am someone who is always thirsty for adventure, someone who simply hates playing sheep(u know the types - follow the herd!). An enthusiastic trekker, who loves to travel and ever ready for one of those wierd new found sports- luv to make new friends and njoy being my family's pet :)!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bike Shopping - The process

(updates in this post - scroll down)

14th Jan 08 - Step into a dream
Its been months since I cherished this dream of me getting a bike and resetting my activity the old way. Unfortunately I could not. Now having read my blog article and also a lot of talk about things a couple of my friends sure got hooked onto the idea of getting a cycle.

Rahulya was the latest entrant and he needed my help/advise to get one for himself. Boy did it feel good advising him on the bike he would need and explaining some jargon. What Rahul said he wanted was a bike that both he and Samruddhi could use. So he needed a 'Y' frame or a frame with the lower top tube.

I got a call from Rahulya in the morning where he said he was looking at the Hero Thunder MTB and a Hero Octane26T. He loved the Octane for it was a full Suspension bike and moreover a Y frame. We decided that we would revisit the shop in the evening for I wanted to take a look at the bikes myself.

So in the evening Rahulya and me drove down PhadkeHoudh and visited this cycle Shop -Sardarji Cycles. The minute I stepped in the smell of rubber and fresh metal filled in from all angles. I was surrounded by cycles as I stepped into the shop. Immediately a salesman came upto us and started showing us around. The first cycle I saw was the infamous Hero Thunder MTB. This was one of the most talked about bikes on the bikeszone forums and also various blogs. It was all aluminum -silver. It was partly packed with cardboard wrapped around its frame.

Soon Rahulya showed me the Octane he was so interested in. My first impression of the Octane was - it was tall , wide and seemed to be heavy. When I took some closer inspection of the bike it turned out to be light but wobbly. I liked the looks but the rear suspension part did not appeal to me much. The disks of the disk-brakes were bent and looked to flimsy. But still it seemed to be a decent bike.

Then I walked around the shop and asked the salesman about the Hero DTB1/DTB2 Hercules Omega/Ryders etc. The shopkeeper went on to explain that the DTBs were on the heavier side and showed us an assembled DTB2, it looked OK but again the rear suspension made it look kinda gross. The Ryders(he just had one-ACT 101) seemed pretty small but was heavy and costed roughly 5.5K, the other Ryders like the AV 101 that I was interested in costs a whooping 15.5K and was not a quick moving item, so they did not stock the same- but could get it on ordering the same. He also said that the Omega was out of production and was no longer available as no one bought the same.

Soon he pointed us to some brand that exports bicycles abroad (I forgot the name), these bikes looked pretty similar to the DTB series. There were a couple more(hardtails) of these, but they were on the heavier side.

We again came back to the Octane and Thunder. Here the shopkeeper explained that the Thunder came in 2 variants geared for 7K and non-geared for 5K. It seems that all on the bike was aluminium, everything could be easily adjusted etc. The Octane too was all alloy except for the pedals and a couple of screws and costs 9.5K.

I was very impressed with the Thunder, also its head tube went low so I guess it could fit both sexes :-). Rahulya was still stuck to the Octane but later found the Thunder more appealing. So bid our farewells with the shopkeeper and returned to Rahulya's house.

Back home we researched on some sites for reviews of the Octane and Thunder. I also asked Rahulya to consider Firefox bikes in case he was willing to go close to the 10K mark.

Well so for now, it seems when I pay a visit to Firefox (hopefully this week sometime) would ask them about unisex and bikes in the range of near 10K. But whilst I was at that shop at Phadke Houdh - boy was I tempted to buy one of those Thunder's and ride off with a flash 32 on between my cheeks!

Update: (22nd Jan 08)- Check out these international bikes.
Eventually on friday (19th Jan) I payed a visit to the firefox showroom at NIBM road. That day I left early from office and the bike simply ventured its way to NIBM :-).

I did try to search this place earlier, but could not locate it then. Today I easily found it. It was not such big shop after all, pretty modest. But the bikes kept there were mindblowing. Again the sweet smell of rubber and metal filled my nostrils as I walked in to ask about a Mr. Raja/Alpesh (the owner of Firefox-Pune). Unfortunately neither were at the shop. So I enquired about the trek 3700 I had finalized on and they did not have that either. So I looked around at the extremely well build cycles that were displayed around the shop. The walls and floor were lined with international bikes.

The only treks he had were the 4500 and the 6000. Both were 20K + - a big nono for me. So I enquired about the Merida brand (I got to know from Mr. Ashwat (Atlas- Delhi) that Merida brads were available at the firefox showroom in Pune). Merida brands were readily available and I checked out one. The build was excellent the weight was very less and the cost was very high 25K+!!! It was a Merida Sub-40D I guess. It had front disks and back "V" brakes. They were excellent. The front suspension too seems cool. I sat on it, and bot did it feel like a proper fit. HE did say it was an 18" frame - now I have doubts, I am 6" and I always thought a 19.5" frame is what I need. Weird.. :P

Either ways I loved the bike and the feel of it! It was a wonder full experience. The attendant there did say that a new shipments of trek cycles would be coming in -in a few days. He took my no. so that they could call me once they received the shipment!

Content I rode back home. As I returned I realised in the fit of exitedness I forgot asking about the firefox bikes for Rahulya and also forgot getting a proper price list for the Trek bikes. In Pune it seems since you have to pay some 3% octroi the bikes here cost more than they do in Bangalore. I always thought these things were cheaper in Pune...

So back home I shared the moment with Nilesh, Rahulya and many of my friends.. some got exited others simply laughed hearing the costs. Too much though later I dunno if I can still buy the bike since I am not yet convinced my folks back home would take the decision in a positive way :-(. I am simply hoping for the best... :-)

Update: (31st Jan 08) - Its a thumbs down
I got call on 24th Jan from the firefox station saying that they had got their shipments of the Trek bikes. The 3700 (19.5 ") was there as well. Unfortunately I could not go then, due to work issues.

I got a message yesterday from Mr. Raja saying that the bike was in stock. Unfortunately it seems very unlikely now for me to purchase a bicycle :-(. My requirement does not seem to be going anywhere. So I had to apologize to Mr. Raja saying I could not consider a cycle now.

More so, as I thought, if I am not in the right mood- it definitely does not make sense in getting one. So I hope that things change soon and I can really get one.

For now its a thumbs down for me :-(. Very sad, but true.
So I defy my own law and follow the herd.

Update: (March 6th 2008) -Passing dreams
So as I followed the herd and was trying to get back to the shape of things, I happened to pass by a shop near my office (This was the 2nd official Firefox outlet in Pune). I had noticed this shop on a couple of occations, but never ventured inside. A couple of days back though could'nt withstand the itch as a black 3700 was being displayed outside the store, so I stepped in and enquired for the rates. 15K spelt too much for the bike as I knew it should cost roughly 13.5K. So stepped off dreamland back to boreland.

Update: (July 27th 2008) - A Ray of hope
Now at last my dream seems to be taking some shape, lots of discussions and thoughts later very soon I might finally be geting my self something moterless on two wheels ... Yuppiee!!!!

Update: (March 4th '09) - The hope seems to get brighter
Visited Surendar Cycles today and took a look at the newer Treks. A batch of three 3700's were being dispatched. The recent increase in steel prices and the very recent recession seem to have hoisted the price bar higher even for the entry levels. The shopowner and his son shared the prices with me and also shed some info about the models. Am I going to get it .... would I really take a plunge at this stage... :).. I dunno. The new trek colors do look meaty!!!!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Marathon Bike Ride Map

My earlier posts described the Bike Ride the 7 of us undertook. This ride lasted from 22nd December '07 till 25th December '07 a total of 4 days.

Day1 had ~520kms covered
Day2 had ~60kms covered
Day3 had ~330kms covered and finally
Day4 finished at ~390kms

So a total of ~1300kms in 4 days. Those days rocked and rocked hard, so much so we are now contemplating another longer and more adventerous ride in the coming months. More on that when we do that, for now check out the route map that lasted ~1300kms
The map would have had a bigger closed polygon had we undertaken the route via Ratnagiri and almost a perfect polygon had we drivin all the way till Mangaon and eventually entered Pune via Tahmini Ghat! (But that would have eaten into another day).

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Marathon Bike Drive (Part 4 of 4)

Heavy dinner the past night rang my morning bell with the early morning Port Siren and Morning namaz blaring through the speakers. Indian seats rock! it was 6am.

So I had a good time waking others up and by 7:30am or so surprisingly all were up and ready in their night clothes to leave for Tarkarli beach which was some 6kms away. So we paired up on bikes I took Yogya as the pillion Amit took Nachya as the pillion Dhanya rode solo and the pillion took his original chariot and sarathi for the ride. It was a very cool Malwan morning. I was packed in Jacket and all but most others were not and were shivering in their shorts. The road was quaint and cool. Lots of twists turns and talks later we rode past MTDC resort and enquied for the beach. A group of ladies led us to Devbaugh village, and we rode down past the village to the backwaters of Devbaugh to the beach. On the way we met a man who explained us the whole geography of the area, post the knowledge transfer we realized we were wrong and spoke to Nachya who was now waiting for us on the roadside. Synced up with them soon, Bandya/Dhanya gang too teamed in and we were parked our bikes on the loose sand.

A small walk down the muddy trail through the boat houses of MTDC resort we came out into the open Tarkarli beach. The beach was good, lots of lagoons were formed here. The water was extremely clear in patches and there were too many dead crabs around. We also spotted a live huge crab. People were playing around the beach as we lazily strolled around and soon decided to head back to the room and get on with the last leg. (~8:30am)

From here we drove down to the ST stand where we perched ourself in a little tea shop and tried some local breakfast - puri kurma and sheera and lots of tea :-). It was sumptous, we headed back to our rooms finished off with the rituals. Mr. Kirloskar did visit us and urged on us visiting his house for breakfast , but today was Amit's wedding anniversary and he had to be home as soon as possible so this was a no no. We thanked him for all his help and bid our farewell to Malwan. (~9am)

I had to take a quick break at the local petrol pump to fuel in the tank and moved on paired up with Amit till our next halt -Kasala phata. The drive went through the ghats and then a couple of villages and finally we stopped a few meters before Kasala. Post some enquiries on directions we decided to resync at Kankavli.

The road was pretty vacant , but as Kankavli arrived it got too crowded and too many trucks etc filled up the city road. Soon we halted here and enquired for the directions to GaganBawda. The path we took was via the village of Terele. The initial part of the drive was pretty good, the drive again went through some hills with barren landscapes and trees interchanging all the time. Here we rode in a single file and at consistent speed. A group of people in the car were so impressed they overtook us with a thumbs up and then let us pass as they shot a video of our formation. It was simply cool, that was when we broke up and started making mistakes and the group went scatter till we reached the railway crossing to regroup. Here an elderly woman appreciated our efforts!

Post this crossing the ride was initially in a single file and then eventually we started ascending the Bawda Ghat here everyone overtook us as I decided to stick trailing Amit(his wheels did not have good grip to negotiate the turns). Soon we reached the top point of the Ghat. Took a break here and then eventually rode off till we find a tea store, found one just where the Ghat came to an end. Here we had a lot of tea, slice (bread and drink :-) ) ,wada paav etc etc. (~11am).

From here we followed the board to Kolhapur and for the initial part we all rode in singles with no formations, later Bandya decided to overtake everyone and stop us to drive in a single file. We did that for the next roughly 50kms with Bandya leading the way past numerous villages down the thin roads. At one occasion a motorist played wise in trying to cut Bandya and was shell shocked to his gut when he saw our entire loud engine file stop behind him :-).

Soon the reached the outskirts of Kolhapur and then eventually entered the city, post some enquiries Amit led the way to a good hotel he knew of. We took a right at a board which said Pune was straight down ahead! Well thats where Hotel Opel was(~1:45pm). The hotel was good and the food was excellent. We ditched the rice and had all of the rest. Post some rest we decided to leave and make our next halt post some 100kms or Satara(~140kms). We decided against formation on NH4 and decided on syncing up at the next halt.

Here I went first and stayed ahead for the most part for roughly 100kms. The drive was very much monotonous down the 6lane highway, it was fun to overtake vehicle at a consistent speed. The road went through Karad and eventually I took my personal halt at ~100kms with a really bad burning butt! I let the others pass. Soon I synced in with the 2 bullets and Amit at Satara. Yogya and Dhanya went off past Satara and took a halt there.

Here we all refueled at the highway pump and then settled at a tea store for lots of tea. Time was roughly 4pm. Lots of tea later we rode on and decided if it gets tiring we halt at 50kms (near Shirwal). Soon we synced up with Yogya and Dhanya and rode on in a near single file for the rest of the route. On the way had to take a diversion as one of the trailers had gone off road and was standing perpendicual on our side. Post this we all rode at roughly 80kms constant and went past the 50kms mark in no time. No sooner did we cross Narayanpur phata did the traffic pickup. Sluggish slow motorists on the road gave us a tough time , but we battled through and got through Katraj tunnel and eventually took our last halt near a tea stall at Sinhagad road phata.

Soon everyone teamed in. It was ~6:30pm. From here Amit had to rush so he left for home. We settled for lots of vannila ice cream flavored tea :-). Lots of talking later we decided to officially lower the curtains on this memorable trip. Nachya and me decided to get back home whilst Dhanya, Yogya, Chika and Bnadya decided on going to Bandya's house. Here we ended the note with a possible next plan... Did Bandya say Andhra Pradesh!??

Enjoy the snaps!
Set1 Set2 Set3

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Marathon Bike drive (Part 3 of 4)

The day had a sluggish start with cold water for bath and slow wakeup calls for all. Soon by around 9 am most of us were down at the dining room for morning breakfast and tea. Idlis, wadas, upma madeup for the morning food. By around 10am we were all ready and set to get our engines roaring out of Gokarna village. We took our first halt at a local petrol pump where I filled in full. Soon we were off through the narrow street till Madanagari and took a left to get towards Karwar(our first synch up point).

The road ahead was pretty much the same as yesterday (I mean .. the traffic rate was almost the same), we drove past many little hamlets till we reached the final Ghat road that led curving down to Karwar. Here we hit our setback -a Traffic jam. The twisted road was lined with Trucks and cars. None seemed to to be moving even an inch ahead. Fortunately we bikers could maneuver through the pile and ride amidst the 2 opposite lines of trucks, I did have a close call at one occasion where an idiot truck driver was driving with his brains on the wrong side. Eventually the road cleared up and we could see why the jam took place, they were all lined up to get to the docs. What a line it was.. must be atleast more than a couple of kilometers long. Soon we drove past the bridge with a clear blue ocean to our left and finally took a halt near our Rabindranath tagore juice 'wallah'! (~11:15am)

From the juice wallah we learnt, he was from UP and was always on the move. Many a juice and chats later we planned on our next halt to be at Madgaon,Goa. So off we took on our bikes and I set trail in the trio of Nachya, Yogya and me. We drove past a bifurcation to Devbaugh beach (but could not plan that for press of time), as the drive changed faces from thick trees to lined tall trees on either sides of the road. Soon we hit our first checkpost, where the cops let us bikers pass with just Nachya showing his license. Soon the road got wider as we rode through nice green jungles, the road was not the best what one can expect but it was pretty fine. The road at times went twisting twining through wide hairpin bends and at times went straight for long distances with empty land on either sides, we took our first halt near a petrol pump that had no petrol to offer (the bullet was running short on fuel- not too less through). Soon the roads got too narrow to a very small gully (it was too hard to believe we were on a National Highway!). Lots of traffic jams and a few bumps later we arrived at Madgaon. (~1pm).

Some searching for a hotel later we settled for one. Bandya and Chikka came chugging in last with a new pair of foam pieces on which chikka was seated. He was burnt up with the ride, he had to get some comfort and they did that at Karwar we learnt and paid some 100 bucks for the pink and orange polygons!

Lunch was sumptuous with veg and non veg thallis just that the solkaddi was pretty wierd in these parts. By about 2:30 pm we were on our ride to Panjim. The roads were wide and big and was full of traffic. Soon we hit the Panjim bridge with all the traffic, here Dhanya and me split off from rest of the group as they stopped for fuel (we had pre-decided on not wasting time in waiting for others and to be in pairs). After over a few kilometers we took a halt an another petrol pump where Dhanya had to fuel up. The road post this went up and down witha lot of traffic. It was not good, no one seems to follow rules and it looked pretty bad. But soon all this changed and we started driving back in the greens, the roads got narrow and wide at will. Soon we drove past Checkpost 1 and eventually through Checkpost 2 (Both being Goa exit posts ), the cops were not interested in checking us bikers. The plan was to drive down ~100kms and take a halt at the nearest destination. Many an occasion we would have to overtake huge trailers driving down thin streets eventually we decided on halting at Swantwadi for others. Here we stopped at Hotel Kamat where we had tea and lassi, the time was ticking at 4:30pm. Ratnagiri did not seem to be a probable destination which was some ~2.5 hours from here.

We spoke with rest of the gang here who were trailing us by over 12kms at a place called 'Bandha', they asked us to ride on and finally keep the sync up point at a place called Kudal, from where we can contemplate our halt for the night. So off we took and rode past the Sawantwadi Lake down the black carpet through canopy trees. This stretch of road from Sawantwadi to Kudal was the best I had seen the whole ride- it was flawless, wide, less traffic, beautiful surroundings and no brakes for speed. The road went twisting and twining at wide turns as the sun played a shy game through the shades of the thicket above.
Soon we reached Kudal at about 5pm and it took over 1/2 hour for the rest of the group to team in. Here we learnt that Bandya was given a speeding ticket for driving at 65kmph and Amit was fined for not havng a PUC! Wow !

At Kudal started the game of contemplating on what to do, Dhanya spoke to a friend of his who said she could arrange for rooms at Malwan (which was some 20kms from this place off the highway to the coast of Tarkarli). We also spoke to a local mechanic at Kudal who gave us precise directions to Malwan and also suggested on how we should return back to Pune the next day via Bawda Ghat and Kolhapur.

So off we took to Malwan at ~6pm. The road went through narrow streets as we twisted and twined through a couple little hamlets in a single file. Much of the road was under construction and it was a pain trailing a truck spitting dust all around. Soon we met StateHighway-115 at a wide juncture to a Ghat which went twisting and twining and eventually to flat land as the road led to the city of Malwan. (~7pm)

Here we stopped at the ST bus stop from where Dhanya confirmed directions for his friends place. Soon we rode down extreemly thin bazaar roads jam packed with people and vehicled! It felt like driving in Tulsi bazaar at Peak hours! Soon we pushed past a couple of super bikes (yieeekss!!!)and finally at his friend's dad's jewllery store.

Mr. Kirloskar was a hospitable man and treated us with soft drinks and soft talk at his shop and also made us all arrangements in the overbooked Malwan city. Soon we followed one of his helper boys who took us to the beach coast , but we pleaded guilty to the fact we were tired and needed to take rest. So he took us to a marriage hall, where 2 rooms were arranged for us. Anything was better than nothing and at 150/- a night it was a priceless deal!

Here Bandya, me and Nachya took a walk down to a tea store had some amazing tea before we settled back to our rooms. The rooms were decent enough and we pre-decided not having a bath the next day. Later we walked down the streets of Malwan bazaar as we searched for a restaurant. We got ourselves one and we sluggishly waited in queue for some place for the seven of us. The restaurant was a wonderful place and the food was mind blowing, typical Kokani food - the non-veggies had a blast so did us veggies! :-).

Post food we took a stroll down the bazaar roads joking and yapping till the river front. The river front walk was pretty decent and we spent some time here, "Sindhudurg killa" was faintly visible in the night mist. Lots of talking later we walked back to our rooms. Nachya, Bandya and me stayed back at one of the tea store and had mid-night tea also with some yapping as we got back to our rooms and slowly and lots of talking later settled back for the night at ~12:30am. It was decided we do Tarkarli beach the next day in the wee morning hours (if anyone woke up that is :-) )

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Marathon Bike Drive (Part 2 of 4)

Having had a hectic day -and to add a lot of 'masti' last night, we were pretty sluggish to wake up. Dhanya and Amit were the first ones to see the dawn of day. Slowly and steadily everyone one got of their back and just lazed around. We ordered some amazing hot tea and sipped on the same watching TV and reading the local newspaper. Soon we were all done with the pleasantries and were all ready to rock the day. Amit, Nachya and me were the first ones to walk down the streets for some tea. So we stopped at this one hotel ordered some idli's utappa's wada's and finally had a bad experience of getting an omlette in place of the uttapa and we walked down with the rest of the gang to another neighboring local udupi hotel. Here we relished on much of the udupi food followed with tea and coffee.

Back at the room we finished up with our packing and were down at the parking lot all ready to see the dawn of the next day. (~11am)

What we gathered from the directions was, we should be riding straight out of Karwar down south till a place called Madanagari and the take a right which leads directly to the Gokarna village. So off we took , and just immediately halted near Rabindranath Tagore beach at a local juice 'wallah', here we had mosambi and pineapple juice and finally took off for our day. The scenery was stupendous- blue skies with the distant green mountain ranges to our left and the blue (clear crystal blue) sea to the right. Soon the road took up the hill and went curving through the passes onto a pretty straight stretch that led all the way to Madanagari. Nachya and Amit were the first to halt for us there, Bandya and me followed in later and we were asked to leave immediately to Gokarna to search for a hotel :-). So off we 2 bikes left and took the very narrow stretch of road to Gokarna. Our aim was to find a hotel near Om beach. Here we noticed many people clad in black 'lungis' , I did read Gokarna was a town of temples where wishes get granted and all sorts of things. Soon we overtook a slow bus and reached Gokarna village in no time. (~2pm)

From here we took the left(as the sign board indicated) for a 2km rive to OM beach in the hope of finding some shacks. Soon the road got narrow and went serpentining up hill from where we got a breathtaking view of Kudal beach, what a view it was. Moving further, the road went over a table land and ended abruptly where too many cars and humans were parked. There a watchman of the guest house(hotel really) asked us to park the bikes inside. Where the road ended the plateau too fell down to the beach! Basically there was vintage point from where one gets a view of what this beach is called "OM" beach (we never took that).

So post some enquiries about places to stay etc we learnt that we could find some shacks at Om beach or many in and around Half moon beach. He also said that almost all hotels were full. Here a fleet of steps led down to a beach side cafe and further on to the beach. Post some thoughts we decided to get down and start the search. Once down, a local vendor at the beach said it would be wise to search for shacks at Half moon beach since all were full at Om beach, he also we said would have to take a 10min boat ride to get there which would cost us 50/- per head(A hike was possible to half moon beach but that would eat up over and hour and we did not have teh time or energy to do that). So here we got in touch with Nachya and Dhnaya (through bad n/w coverages) and told them we were proceeding the search down the beaches.

The boatman was a Good-man :-), he gave us all the information about the beaches around this place and where we would find what. The beach I must say was full of westerners, I sort of mistook we were in Goa! Soon with a few more customers we rode off Om beach on the fisherman modified motor boat to Half moon beach. Lots of pics and wonderful feel later the boat took a left into another creek and we could see the little Half moon beach. But here there were no shacks the boat man said we would find a lot of shacks at Paradise beach, where he willingly took us. So off Halfmoon we took another curve to Paradise beach - this place was again a little bigger than Half moon but had a lot of shacks and a resort as well and it was full of aliens (wink wink). Here we requested the boatman to give us 10mins to inquire about places to stay, so we rushed through a crowd of alien skin to the shack owner who had no interest in talking to 'desi's' , fine so we showed him no interest and sort of planned to finalize a house in the village and get back to the beach for dinner. All said and done we remounted the boat enjoying the view around waiting for some aliens and rode back with a couple extra customers! On the this return ride we spotted a dolphin!

Back at OM beach we learnt an agonizing fact: we hit roadblock no. 2!

Yogya had a flat tyre in the middle of no-where and Nachya was helping him sort out the issue. So here we were at ~3:30pm in the afternoon- no room to stay with a flat. By now Amit Dhanya too were at the guest house. Nachya took Amit's vehicle(since this bike had no saddle bags) down hill to get the flat done, in the meantime we were brainstorming on what our plan of action should be. Soon we learnt that the other guest houses too were full near the Gokarna village, so we sortof decided on getting back to the village and searching for a hotel there- incase we found no hotel we would enjoy and return back to Karwar for the night stay(things were starting to look bad).

So we left the guest house and encountered Nachya and Yogya on the way (needless to say they were frustrated and agonized over many little tit bits that went wrong for them), so letting Dhanya and Bandya leave ahead Amit(my pillion now) and me returned with Nachya to get the wheel fixed back in the bike, a little effort and the wheel was back in. Here we learnth the hell they had to go through to get a puncture repair man in the village, also we learnt that the locals said that beach side shack people don't give houses to Indians they only prefer westeners, so we spit some scum and decided to get on with the day. So Nachya and Yogya went back to the guest house to pick the red bird and we encountered Bandya on the way with some great news- We got ourselves a room!

The irony of the matter was we got a hotel just near the entrance of the village (had we tried at the village first - this never would have happened)- so so much for OM beach! My verdict is its a good looking beach and all but sucks bad at high season!

By now we all teamed in and checked our special Delux room with 5 beds and 2 extra beds. The room was good, nothing to complain about (well not having A/c and warm water might have been an issue for some (giggle giggle) ) we were content. So at ~4pm we went down to the hotel's dining room for lunch and relished on a simple meal. It was not too good but not bad either (some might differ with this opinion of mine). From here we took our frisbees and got into shorts and loose clothes and decided to walk down to the local Gokarna beach. The walk was through little allies and charming streets - the place was full of temples all sorts of God's set home in this place. Now I felt better that I was right about Gokarna being a place of Gods.

Soon after a few twists and turns we came headon to the beach, here we had tea at a local store (we ditched one store as he was preferential to aliens). Soon we jumped down at the beach playing the frisbee and enjoyed the mild evening breeze. The beach was a huge huge stretch and was almost vacant at the far end. It had many fishing boats and fishermen and many people playing in the water. Soon Bandya, Nachya, Dhanya and me got rid of the tops and made a dash for the water, Chikka got his SLR along and decided on fine tuning his skills, Amit and Yogya decided to take stroll. The water was wonderful -it was salty yes! But we enjoyed every moment of it.

Having played for over 1/2 hour we decided to get back on shore. Soon we all regrouped and took many pictures and started humming songs and the humms got louder as the day dove from dusk to dark. All sorts of songs, all sorts of background music. Chikka 'n Nachya played the mouth organ too as I kept giving background jhankar beats. Many people on the beach gathered around us as we sang in and out of tune but in sync. As the place got darker we decided to have some tea at the same shop, and we made this shop our place for the next couple of hours singing all sorts of songs again. Many people walking past coming in and out of the shop kept looking at us and smiling and clapping and cheering along. It was an amazing feeling!

Post some coconut juice, tea and more tea we walked down for dinner(~7:30pm). As we walked we sang and people around either shut their ears or clapped and cheered for us. The streets were now a bustling little market with all sorts of things being sold. We bought some powder(sore ass treatment) and shampoo. We learnt of a place that serves the best fish Gokarna has to offer, but unfortunately it severed only Fish and rice and we were 2 veggies and no one wanted to eat rice so we decided on searching for our next good resturant. So we walked through dark alleys and went past the bus stop and finally located out restaurant. Much to our dislike it was a western hotel full of aliens, yet it was getting late and we had to eat so we decided on placing our order. It took us 2.5 hours and a lot of shouting later that we got our order at our table, the food was good but the service simply sucked. All the time we had loud blaring local music in the background- it was some festival time in the village.

Bandya had some plan of doing some candle lighting stuff at the beach so a few of us-frustrated with the service-selves decided to go back to the room and get the candles whilst the rest(only Nachya and Dhanya ) walked down to the beach , Amit and Yogya took the bike while Bandya Chika and me walked down.(~10am)

Once at the beach our couple of drunk bikers greeted us and we sat on the sand singing songs. The night was bright with the moon shining full and the breeze kept a consistant top hue. Soon Bandya briefed us on the plan- make a big enough circle within which all of us can sit and then dig deep holes all around the circumference and plant candles in them and then eventually light 'em up, it would look fantabulous. So with the singing and chatting we got on with the digging and realized the breeze was pretty heavy so we had to dig deeper, we finished one circumference then we go one with another set of concentric circles with trenches interleaving the previous ones. All this with the candles being lit up simply looks heavenly - it felt as though we were siting in the midst of some lava trenches! Once all was done we sat in the middle and sang songs after songs... many people started gathering around us and cheered our effort and we kept sticking Bandya's hand up for his creative thought (well he felt remorse for the fact no white alien came to appreciate the creation!) :-). In the process we got ourselves introduced to many of the vacationers at the beach.

By roughly 1am the candles started fading off and Amit/Dhanya decided to take leave. We realized we had forgotten out plastic bag at the restaurant we had dinner so we decided on getting it back at this hour hoping it would be open. So we walked back trying to keep our voices low in the quiet alleys. The moment we crossed the bus stop we realized the little village play was still going on with no audience center street. The restaurant was open and we got our bag back, here we decided to have some tea as Bandya exited a drunk to dance in front of me, it was a weird experience!

Soon we traced back our steps humming and singing and now also dancing (to the village play steps) back to our hotel room. At the room a few of us sat around maps as we decided on our plan for the next day, we still had to finalize a destination for Day3. So we decided where ever we stop at 4pm we would take the nearest destination to be out next halt. We presumed Ratnagiri could be a probable choice- We were to be proven so wrong! It was roughly 2:30am or late when the lights went blink...

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Marathon Bike Drive (Part 1 of 4)

Adventure they say comes from the heart and not by force. One day I decided to follow my heart and from that day on I found it nothing short of hard to look back.For me adventure never really meant doing any particular activity or having a plathora of TODO's to prove my hunger, it simply meant I do what I did and do it with no regrets. None of the treks/long-drives etc. I have done have I faced any regrets. This was going to be no different for what I am about to describe.

My CBZ was all up and running with me giving my trusted Vindica a break. Nachiket(Nachya) told me one day "...get your bike all done and you can join us on a wonderful bike ride along the Konkan Coast". That day came only the plan changed. He and Suryakant(Bandya) had chalked out a ride to Karwar in Karnataka. Tentatively including me it was some 5 of us on that trip. Later we were finalized to 8 and eventually it was 7 of us who rode out of Pune on 6 bikes.

Shrikanth(Chika) could not ride a bike so he sat pillion to Bandya on his black Thunderbird, Yogesh(Yogya) on his Avenger, Nachya on his Red Thinderbird, Dhananjay(Dhanya) on his Unicorn and me on the CBZ rode off from Bandya's house at ~6:20am. We took our first halt at the highway that meets Sinhagad road where Amit teamed in, with his Pulsar. Finally we rode past the Katraj bypass mounted with 4 sets of Saddlebags(~6:30am). Our first halt was at a petrol pump where most of us got our tanks full, this is where we hit our first minor road block. Nachiket had lost his kick lever! Well he said he could manage the same and off we were on our trail down south.

It was pretty hard for me to digest the fact that we would be riding at a consistant 80+kmph for the fact my bike was just off a rotten awakening and it seemed to tremble to the throttle. None-the-less we rode down the expanse of NH4. This was probably one of the better decisions we took of riding down NH4 since it was a 4 lane highway for the most part and thus maintaining an unruffled consistant speed in the wee morning hours at the start of the trip puffed in enough confidence.

In no time we drove past out first Toll gate- Bikers dont pay toll.. Wee.. yay! So that became the protocol for the rest of the trip - you spot a toll gate then take left and drive past it. The weather was pretty cool and the head wind was just about picking up. The fog was nowhere to be seen and so were the clouds. Being wrapped in clothes and metal from head toe on a ride was a new prospect for me, and I was just about gelling into this avenue.

As we rode, some rider would get bugged up and thus maintain a consistant 60 to 80 while other trailers rode past. There was no strict vigilance to the formation in which we were to ride. It was plain and simple - Be in sight, drive with a brain and follow lane and traffic rules! We did that :-).

Soon we reached the Kahmbatki Ghat toll and then started the curvy ascent. This ride was cool and pretty much knowledgeable too. Well, for one thing I was riding such speeds after a long time and had covered over 100kms for the first time in a single shot! Secondly, driving on curves maintaining a good pace was again something of a rediscovery for me and finally learnt Amit had a misaligned bike and tyre that had virtually no grip and so he was bound to be slow on such turns. So I trailed him at the Ghat. Driving past lorries buses , sometimes the big money cars. This was nothing short of fun. The road past Kambatki was pretty much straightforward. We hit out first major roadblock.

It was roughly 11am, and by now Yogya and Dhanya had sped off way ahead and the trail for us trailers was : Nachya-Amit-Bandya and me, thats when Amit noticed a lot of smoke coming off Nachya's thunderbird. He said "... I mistook his bike for a milkman's bike for a moment, owing to the fact the smoke that was being thrown out..". We had to stop here. We were near the Satara bypass area. The Thunderbird was bleeding oil, it was a heart stopping moment. But then some cool headedness and a quick call to the bullet mechanic (Alex) shed light on the fact that some waste oil chamber was overfull and thus the oil having no other place to go decided to take a free fall. The oil was all over his bike -rear tyre inclusive! Draining the chamber and some cleanups later the bike was all ready to go.

Here on we rode a little slow till his bird picked some road grip and he was sure of a non smoky ride! By now we teamed up on road and all six bikes were moving on steady. Having an empty stomach and Yogya making all sorts of hilarious "I am hungry " signs to Chika, Yoya and Dhanya sped off and took a halt some 10kms off Karad for food. Meanwhile the 2 bullets started playing some formation games and later I decided to play a little myself- but doing that over 100 - 110 was out of the question for me :-). It was a tough job trying to spot the hotel where the 2 had halted for breakfast, repeated calls and multiple stops later we finally spotted the duo at one road side dabba. This was our breakfast halt (~10:15am).

A sumptuous breakfast of lots of omlettes and tea and decision on the route "printouts" and persistant nagging from Amit to ditch Karwar and make the trip shorter we left the dhabba for Karnataka. Our next halt was predecided to be 100kms from this place. From here on the drive went past numerous fields and many motorists started flocking the roads as Kolhapur drew closer. Soon we drove past Kolhapur and by now we were all pretty much seperated. As we drove further we drove past the Kadal board and post this it was all Karnataka. We were in Karnataka!

Here the NH4 changes looks pretty much drastically, it was like riding on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. Yes it was all concrete and 6lanes too! The problem, it was pretty much monotonous, the people on these roads have no liking to follow rules and the sun sort of started beating down on us. Soon I noticed Yogya in a distance and started trailing him, later Bandya slowed down as he let all of us pass - Nachya was the last in queue. 100kms were done on my bike and so I started slowing down and so did Yogya(his speedo 'n altimeter did not work!) soon Nachiket and Bandya too stopped but Amit and Dhanya were way off the charts. Calling them only confirmed the fact that they were halted at their precise 100km mark! LOL.

So we started our hunt for Amt and Dhanya and soon found Amit near a bus stop and Dhanya a few meters ahead near a huge resturant complex. We took our 100km tea break! We were at Niphani. (~12pm). Here we took a long break had some tea and refreshed ourselves and took some directions for the locals. Our next target was Belgaum. Here too the road continued in 6lanes and went twisting around numerous turns over the hills. Nachya, Yogya and me were driving in sych and soon we realized we were down on fuel. So took a break at a shabby petrol pump on the outskirts of Belgaum and fueled in just enough to get us to Belgaum. The whole team regrouped at the Belgaum flyover where post some enquries it was evident we had to ride through the town and get to Khanapur. Here the whole group filled their tanks at a pretty decent looking pump and we drove down the city roads of Belgaum. Dhanya went missing. (~1PM).

So here we took some time out till the time Dhanya came in after searching for an ATM in the City. Some time later we re-inquired for the right path to get to Khanapur and we folowed the single lane road under a lot of tree cover and off the city limits as the whole group came to a halt at a decent looking dhabba. (~1:30pm)

Here we ordered a lot of food veg/non-veg alike, confirmed on road directions were told to drive down till a place caled Ramwadi from where we were to take the straight road to Karwar. So on we mounted our bikes and off we were under the green shade as we entered the outskirts of the Dandeli santuary. Here we drove past many little hamlets and one occasion I nearly rode into a motorcyclist - only some cool headedness prevented the worst. Soon we spotted Ramwadi in the midst of thickets and took the right road lading to Karwar. Post this the ride was one of the best stretches we rode this entire trip. A beautiful carpet of black asphalt laid in the midst of the thick jungle with monkeys peeking every now and then, lots and los of hairpin bends and too many uphill and downhill curves. Soon we drove past some of the most magnificent scenery we had seen, the silent unruffled river to the right and the grey apshalt went down curves to the west cost. Soon we all regrouped in the jungle as we road on in a single file up down and round the hills. There were a lot of resorts in this part of the forest and many posts pointing out that Dandeli was just a measly 20kms away. Bandya took the most pleasure of riding at over 80kmph at hairpin bends (Chika must have taken the turn in dark). Soon we reached the town of Joida. Here we regrouped at a tea stall. (~4:30pm).

Here we met a Karwar local who was all praises for the city of Karwar and also gave us directions to our destination. He said that the next 15kms of road was pretty ok but then for the next 15kms the road was to be extremely bad. We were soon to find out how much of an understatement what he stated was! Here we met a Bus driver who took a halt from te bus going from Pune to Karwar, he said it would take another 1.5 hours to get there. We took off. The pairs being Yogya and Dhanya leading the way, then Nachya and me and finally Dhanya/Chika and Amit trailing for Amit was clocking pretty low on confidence. As we rode on we were pretty content with the condition of the road, but this was all a short-lived proposition. Soon the road gave way to little ditches and then the road was so narrow that only a single vehicle could pas through. Soon we entered another forested area (the Aushi Sanctuary I presume). from here on it was an all down hill drive with lots of turns and some hairpin bends, but this was the worst patch any rider can ever dream about: The road was nothing more than rubble- stones strewn here and there distinguishing the neighboring woods for our so called road. The road resembled a riverbed. Every kilometer on this was a torture, it was like us paying for our sins in Hell! The 15kms end mark just did not seem to show up it was only 25 kms later that I got frustrated and decided to wait for Nachya to pair in. The immediate turn gave way to the smooth grey. A big thumbs up and off we were cruising down the bends- it felt like riding on AIR! Soon the ghat roads came to and end and we spotted Yogya an Dhanya waiting for us. We got off our bike with the worst scum words one can think of. Amit and Bandya were missing- many busses vans etc. went by us, but there was no sing of the trio. It was dark by now. Just as we were making plans for a resue mission ( :-) ), the trio came chugging down the road. No sooner did the vehicles stop did Chika jump off the pillion seat to the road and presented his back to the dark asphalt. (it was ~7 pm)

It was dark and we had roughly another 40km to drive. So off we took, and this time it was a single file with Bandya leading and me trailing the way. The road went through many bad sections and some good but all that made no difference after what we had just been through, it was a dusty road and soon we came to the outskirts of Karwar city, from here we took some quick directions and drove down to the little thin roads of Karwar. Lots of hunting and holding ups later we found a wonderful hotel to put our backs to rest : Hotel Sai International. (~8:30 pm).

This hotel was more that what we bargained for, hot water, A/C and all the goodies! Soon we all had a warm shower and went down for dinner. Lots of food and drinks and lots of chitto chat later we decided to walk down to the nearest beach (Rabinranath Tagore beach). (~12am). So we took a stroll down the narrow streets to the beach and spent some time there, In about 40 mins we decided to return to the cosy comforts of the room. But here Mr. Suryankant Bandya had some plans of his own. He decided on making noise and playing games, so we all teamed in and saw how batman became sajeev kumar to various other characters to a batman with no hands!! It was ~3am when we called it quits. Gokarna was the plan for Day2.

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