6am. Down in the parking. Fixing up the haversack with bungie chords. Funny, its been so long since I have fixed the bag in this way - takes me almost 15 mins. Cramster saddlebags have spoilt me - but they are too big for just a night-halt-over kind of ride. Just as I am finishing off , i get a call from Jay - he has already reached the staring off point - Chandni Chowk in Pune.
I headup to my house. Lock it up. Open the door again as I think I did not switch off the light, find it switched off and head back down. Put on the gear, except my gloves, which i stuff inside my jacket and move off.
There is something exhilirating about an early morning. Some promise of something grand. A whiff of enthusiasm about a new day. I am amazed to see so many people already on the road - the sky is completely dark at this time. Kids in school uniforms waiting for busses at 6:30am near the Pashan circle as I head up towards Chandni Chowk. As I pass the army area, the chill hits the hands. Wow ! The drop in temperature was quite sudden !
6:40am and I am at Chandni Chowk. Jay and Somnath are there. Rishi and Narendra, the other two guys from my office are MIA. Tried to call them up, no response - they are probably on the way. The dawn is just breaking ... and I try a few shots in the semi-twilight.
7:00am [ 0 kms ] Finally everyone is here, and we start off. Somnath is to lead the way , and he has been cautioned to go a bit slow as we have new riders. 80kmph speed limits and the next stop to be for breakfast. The rookies have been let in on the big plan - we ride without many stops ! Thats it. No over speeding, no racing, just very few stops. The traffic on the highway is quite sparse, and we make good time.
8:30am [ 52kms] Stop at Ram Vade Waala for breakfast. This place is crawling with people ! I am stumped - why so much of traffic. Thats when Naren says - probably all going to Mahabaleshwar ... aah ! We quickly assess the route again - do we go through mahabaleshwar and head over to Nh17 or go via Umraj and make a turn to chiplun ? We decide on the later . The pleasures of riding with a group - new plans made constantly !
The ride after that was pretty simple. Nice straight highways with the run rising over the small hills on the left side. A few breaks for water and we reached Umbraj at 11:30. Hmm, we should reach chiplun by 1, so we decided to ditch having lunch there and directly go to Hedvi . Somnath called up the fellow in Hedvi and asked him to get lunch ready for us.
Umbraj to Chiplun is ghat roads. Till halfway, the roads are bad, but around 30-40 kms before chiplun they become smooth and are fun to ride on ! On the left side is a river ( i dont know the name , and google maps does not show the river) .
Chiplun took us some time to get through. The helpful people there pointed us right at the center of the busy weekend market, where progress was at snails pace. Finally out of it and we chugged along ahead towards Hedvi. Rishi was keeping up with Somnath far ahead in the distance, while I brought up the rear. After asking directions again and again , a few turns later, we were at Hedvi.
13:30  Reached the resort in Hedvi. The less I write about it , the better - its not something I would recommend to people. Just a room to stay in, with common toilets . sigh.
We wasted no time and called for lunch. SouthIndian style. Finshed that off and Jay and I decided to take a breather and sleep the afternoon off - and got joined by Somnath. Rishi and Naren decided to chill out under the trees near the beach.
Finally around 4:30pm we moved onto the beach. It was still quite hot, but Jay and I were hoping for some good sunset shots - the only dampner - the clouds on the horizon. However, it were the same clouds which turned the sky into a riot of colours ! Check out the pics cause I can't describe it in words.
Evening went in gupshup and another round of dinner which was same as lunch. We also settled our bills there to take care of the early start, and also as we could not bear another round of the food there !
Jay was to leave really early, and in the process all of us got up :) .. though we finally started off quite late around 8:30am. I took that opportunity to use the public loo before others ( ;-) ), and also to take a few shots of the dawn. Man, it feels so fresh up at that time. Pity, I don't do it more often.
Breakfast stop was at Chiplun. The ghats from hedvi to chiplun are quite good, but this time, for the first time, I got a backache . Somnath gave me a couple of disprins to eat - which lasted me quite a bit almost all the way back to home.
After that we followed the same route back. At the top of the ghats, we stopped for a photo shoot . Somnath had zoomed far ahead, and it was just the 3 of us. At that place is a police checkpost - where the chap after seeing us stop called us over to the hut. Asking for our DLs etc. Then started filling in info in their book. Luckily for us the first person he asked was Narendra...
Officer : Whats your name ?Naren : Narendra KOfficer : Na... ?N : NarendraO : Fullname ?N : Write Narendra KO : give full name.N : Narendra KatlamudiO Writes down "Narendra K" ;-)
That was quite funny ! Then I asked the cops why they are harrasing us when we have stopped and they are not stopping the other people who just zoom past. Officer said that tomorrow is Republic Day so he has to do these things, but I guess by this time he got tired of writing down a single name, so he said ok. Being the evercheerful guy that I am , i asked if he can take a pic of ours ;) . He passed on the duty to his hawaldar, who in turn called the local shop owner and told him to take pic :D
The journey after that did not have much to write about. It was a very hot day though, and we had lots of water breaks. The good thing was that all 4 of us kept together almost thorughout the journey, with a couple of dashes to break up the monotony.
4:30pm [588kms] and we are back at my house. Somnath had parted way just before Pune, while the remaining 3 split up at my house.
Felt good to have a trip after a long time :D
And then in the evening I went out for a short drive ;)
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