It had been over 5 months that I had resumed cycling after a gap of almost 4 years. Daily ride of around 20 KMs in and around Pune city was becoming a routine. I rode daily on a different route, never to repeat the same route twice in a week. But this was kind of becoming a routine and hence somewhat boring too. I was longing to go for a long ride, a really long ride; say 90-100 KMs at a stretch, in a day.
That opportunity came along one Saturday, on 14 of November 2015. Just before Diwali started, one of my “Earn Blessings” friend told me that they were going for a ride to Lavasa and asked me if I would join them. Lavasa is a place situated on South-Western side and around 45 KMs from Pune. 45 KMs one way meant 90 KMs in total and this was the kind of opportunity I was waiting for. Going alone on such a long ride wasn’t something I had done earlier. I wouldn’t mind going alone on ride, but for now I wanted company and Saurabh and Akshay (my friends) offered it to me. I happily and quickly agreed to their offer and said “Yes. I would love to come along”.
We started early on Saturday, at 06:30 AM and decided to meet at a common point and then ride ahead together. By 07:15 AM we had climbed the Pirangut ghat. That was easy, I thought. From then on till 07:45 we kept riding at a decent speed, over minor troughs and treads. Along this road there was a small lake which marked the start of rural area on South-Western side of Pune. There’s ample space to stop your vehicle and climb down to the lake for a relaxed morning.
And then came the Mutha Ghat which was a continuous, gradual climb and refused to end. This ghat was a test for me, not a grueling one but a test nonetheless. It took us another 45 minutes to reach at the peak of the Mutha ghat. It was 08:30 AM in clock and we stopped to rest for some time. Another 20 odd KMs remained for Lavasa Entry Gate, where the zero mile (to Lavasa) milestone is situated.
Another thing that helped me in climbing the Mutha ghat was the picturesque surrounding. The distant peaks, some visible, some blurred and at some places only a hint of outline was visible. The morning chilly air too soothed a lot. Every corner and turn on Mutha ghat presented us with different scenes and shades.
I had a general idea that this won’t be an easy-peasy ride, with Pirangut Ghat and Mutha Ghat in between meant the ride would be a grinding one. But it didn’t matter to me, because I was under a spell of riding long distance. But little did I know that Lavasa Ghat is a father of all ghats and the curves will be so sharp and acute. The ghat was (all the ghats for that matter) were challenging for my Firefox Nitro cycle. It has only 6 gears in total as against the 21, 24 gears normal gears cycles have now. That meant I had less options to reduce the traction and make the climb easy. But I was determined to reach the zero milestone, so whenever it was impossible for me to keep riding, I used to climb down from my cycle and walk.
The Temghar ghat, from where Lavasa is only 9 KMs, started and we were exhausted by then. So we stopped after climbing a bit of ghat. The roads there are very smooth but with very acute and sharp turns. The ghat is so arduous that even a premium car struggles to climb it. We even started to have second thoughts by the time we reached the starting point of Lavasa ghat, but with determination to reach the top we resumed our ride/walk anyway. We were then greeted by top view of Temghar dam backwater. It would be a miracle if flora and fauna, the biodiversity and different types of birds present at this point don’t entice you, soothe you. We were no atheists to not believe in this God, God nature.
We tried to ride the ghat but could do so only for 3-4 KMs, the rest of ghat was traversed by walking. There are quite a few shacks placed strategically along the ghat that offer juices and breakfast. Somehow at around 10:00 AM, we reached the top of the Lavasa ghat and consequently Lavasa zero mile stone. We soaked in the achievement, but didn’t wait there for long for we didn’t want to lose the momentum. So we started our back journey immediately.
The journey back to home was the MOST testing ride I have experienced till now. We were fresh and determined to reach the top of Lavasa. Even the morning weather was assisting us and made the journey quite easy. But now the Sun had risen much above the horizon and was glaring at us. We were getting dehydrated very often as compared to morning ride. And hence the speed too reduced drastically. With us resting every now and then, the clock was ticking but our KMs weren’t. But the determination to complete the ride in true sense kicked in time to time and we resumed our ride back.
In all it took us 08 hours to complete the ride. But considering the stoppage time in between, we were able to complete the distance of 78 KMs in 05:22 hours. Some KMs weren’t counted in the total run as GPS wasn’t working at some of the places.
We vowed to go for such rides in future and retired on this note.
Prasad B. Kulkarni
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