After living in north India for most part of my life, I was excited about moving to Mumbai to study and also to travel around Maharashtra. It took a lot of convincing to let my parents take my motorbike along with me, but it was a decision I do not regret making. I have spent many hours online looking at pictures of bikers doing trips to Pune, Ratnagiri, Karjat, Goa etc and been amazed with the sort of scenery and terrain they get to drive through. From the day my motorbike arrived in Thane by truck, I had been planning a trip and it finally came to pass last weekend.
When our class was first informed about the extended weekend, my classmates immediately pulled out their phones looking up cheap tickets to go back home while I was looking for places I could drive to. After a bit of research I learnt that the drive to Pune is a quite a scenic one and is one bikers enjoy. Google Maps suggested only one route- the Mumbai-Pune expressway, but it was closed for two wheelers due to a high number of bike related accidents. However most motor biking forums suggested National Highway 4, which is the old Mumbai-Pune highway and said that it was in good condition, while some even said it was more scenic than the expressway.
I left Mumbai at 7 am on the 15th of August and just six kilometers in it started pouring and had to pull out my rain gear. I had to drive relatively slowly as I exited Navi Mumbai toward Panvel. Much to my surprise, I found there were no signs demarcating the expressway from the old highway, but after asking a few policemen I managed to get onto NH4.
Despite the rains, I decided to take a detour to Karjat where someone suggested a parallel route to NH4. That route was one of the best I’ve ever ridden, with its winding roads, amazing landscape and beautiful weather, I couldn’t have asked for more. It was different from the terrain of Uttarakhand that I am used to driving on; this assortment of hills, lush greenery, excellent roads, ideal weather and plateau terrain made this ride unforgettable.
As I neared Lonavala I found a long line of cars in traffic, which didn’t bother me as I maneuvered between lanes of stagnant vehicles and got up to the front. While driving this hilly region I noticed the persistent smell of burning clutch plates emerging from cars around me and was reminded of how city drivers find it hard to drive on inclined roads.
About 50 kilometers from Pune I was treated to a group of Yezdi bikers riding together for Independence Day. It was a delight to see one of India’s most iconic bikes in such numbers. Riding alongside them I entered Pune via Dehu Road and thought to myself that I couldn’t have imagined a better ending to this brilliant journey.