It’s generally Sundays one likes to go on a long riding excursion but a sudden change in my schedule got me a free Saturday. Since morning I toyed with the idea of setting out on a long ride but couldn’t get over the indecisiveness because of the heat. By the time I made up my mind it was well past noon. Did a quick prep and I set out to khandala at around 1430 hrs.
I had checked up the temp on the net. Two sites gave me two different day temp. – 34 degrees and 38 degrees. Considering both of them to be well beyond my confort zone, I resigned myself to fate and set out to experience riding in the heat (as if the experience from last week’s 200 km BRM wasn’t enough).
Ten minutes into the ride - I was feeling the pinch – the scorching heat and dry winds were uncharacteristic of precincts of a coastal area.I Kept drinking small amounts of water till Panvel toll naka. After that I felt slightly better and rode well. Reached Khopoli, a distance of around 47 km in 1 hr 46min and averaged around 26kmph. I took a ten minute break before climbing the Bhot ghat. Even though the sun was way down from merpass, the air was just short of being a furnace exhaust.
Bhor ghat took its toll. I dismounted twice on my way up - Fatigued, and sapped out of energy. It’s like, I tried to dial in my reserve energy tank but that was dry too. There wasn’t a drop of sweat on my body – just salt. I stopped in a shade for two minutes, panting. Within two minutes, the sweat began to break over and I felt cooled down a bit. The trapped heat finally escaped. Later, the climb was bearable because I was sweating and kept myself hydrated. I finally reached khandala tunnel after an hour and five minutes of climb.
A passing thought on motorists. I never had complains about truckers – they drive well in a straight line. The worst drivers are generally in the swankiest car or an SUV. They have loads of horse power and they think they have the right of way under any circumstances.
Tiger valley or sunset point was crowded. It was 1830 and people had gathered to take pictures of sunset. A ten minute break turned longer when some well heeled gentlemen began discussing about cycling. It would have been rude to cut them short, saddle up, and ride away. So I hung around for a while. What was worrying was that I wanted to get down khandala ghats while there was still enough light. I can’t imagine speeding down the cat-1 ghat in a battery powered LED head lamp. Finally, at seven I started riding down. I had entered the twilight zone.
Return ride was very comfortable. The sun had gone down and the breeze was a bit cooler and I think it was from a favourable direction. I sped up. A major chunk of Khopoli to Panvel stretch doesn’t have much habitation along the way as a result there was not enough ‘spillover’ lights on the roads. I relied either on the headlights of the vehicles from behind - that was comfortable, and my LED head lamp. On those stretches that were engulfed in pitch darkness the LED lamp proved reasonably helpful.
I reached home, 2 hours later after covering 58 km at a brisk pace.
Kharghar-Khopoli 47km 01:46
Khopoli-Khandala-tiger valley 15km 01:32
Khandala – kharghar 58km 02:00