Indian Cyclists Network

Pune to Mumbai via the Ghats (NH4) - what a ride!

Life does take some strange turns... even when you are not on the saddle...

Take last week, for instance... there I was, all set to join the gang for a ride to Kanheri Caves on Sunday... wondering what route to take - do I go to the start point? join them at Sanjay Gandhi National Park? if so, go via Aarey? or take Ghodbunder Road?

And suddenly, I hit a hairpin bend - instead of heading west and north towards Kanheri Caves, I was suddenly headed east and south... towards Pune!

What happened was this... a prospective client meeting came up on Saturday in Pune... my first client in the city... :-)

Now, any sensible guy would have taken a flight, booked a cab, or got onto a Volvo, or maybe taken the train... but that would be a "sensible guy"... not me...! My wife Suchita, who never lets a leg-pulling opportunity pass, commented (very tongue-in-cheek, of course): "So, you are taking your cycle, right?" And the brightest repartee I could come back with was a fairly-dumb: "What!" So, she went on: "Since this is a client visit and you insist on cycling around to meet all your clients here, I guess that's what you want to do now too!" Well, we laughed about it a bit... but then I thought, why not! I've been wanting to do the Mumbai-Pune stretch for quite some time now...

And then, there occurred another of those happy coincidences that keep happening to me. :-) My friend Aneev (he too is on cyclists.in too) called, saying that he was planning to visit Pune on Saturday... and he offered me (and my Ridge!) a lift to Pune in his car.

So on Saturday morning, we dismantled the Ridge, loaded it into the car and hit the Expressway for Pune...

Spent some time with Aneev's family in Pune, then assembled the Ridge again and rode across the city, first to meet another friend and then to meet the client. The meeting went well... and I spent the rest of the day (and a sizeable part of the night) riding all around and across Pune, meeting more old friends and making some new ones... :-)

Stayed over at an old college friend's place... chatted till dawn, then slept some. On Sunday around mid-morning, I set out from my friend's place and hit the old Pune-Mumbai highway (NH4) via Oundh and Dehu Road to take on the Ghats...

I admit I was quite worried when I started - first time on the ghats, ageing knees (complete with osteo-arthritis!), no idea what kind of strain they were capable of... and honestly, quite unsure whether I had it in me any more... plus I was alone, so if anything happened, well, God help me...!

Some guys had told me that the climb upto Lonavla was easy and it was only after that, that the incline became really steep... so I went easy till Lonavla, conserving my energy for the "dreadful steep incline" after that...

Throughout the ride, I kept stopping at every Neera joint, little shops selling neera (juice tapped from the Tadgola trees)... drank a glass from almost every vendor along the way (I hadn't had neera in over 20 years, after all!)... plus nimbu paani and a ice-gola later on, from a gola-waala near Karla. So much so that my own bottles of water and Electral were hardly sipped from for quite some time... Also went off the road into any village that took my fancy, any temple/lake/hamlet that looked inviting...

Anyway, I reached Lonavla around lunch-time, had a leisurely lunch... spent some time chatting with the locals and then stuffed my bag with chikkis etc to take back home for everyone... :) And then I set out again, mentally prepared to tackle even the Himalayas! Some more mild inclines later, I stopped and asked a local gentleman how much further it was to the really steep climb... The guy's reply was a complete bolt from the blue: "Aava, aataa chaDhaan kuThey haay? fakta utraaycha haay!" (That's the local Marathi for: "No more climbing, dude, it's all downhill from here!")

And so started the ride downhill Man, what a ride!... the disc brakes seriously proved their worth that day! Took my own sweet time coming down, though... stopping to literally see the sights and figuratively "smell the flowers" along the way... loved the breathtaking views from various points on the ghats... wish I had a better camera than the one in my cellphone, though... :)

The stretch after getting down from the ghats... via Khopoli and all the way up to Kalamboli... was a bit of a drag... didnt enjoy it that much... but after that... I was zipping along at a fairly decent clip... the only slowing down was when people rode/drove alongside to ask where-from and where-to... if they asked any more questions, I'd ask them to pull over and then answered all their queries... (yeah, told them all about you guys, and the trips we do... and the Critical Mass ride... the works!)

Reached home quite late in the evening... about 11 hours after I had started from Pune... which boils down to around 8 hours on the actual Pune-Mumbai route, the rest was "invested" in wandering around the countryside, connecting with the locals, gabbing with curious people along the way, etc...

You know what... I had expected the ride to be strenuous... but it isn't... so maybe we should plan this stretch for one of our weekend rides. :-) If not both ways, we could travel to Pune by train, and cycle back to Mumbai. What say, guys? Ho jaaye? Jai ho! :-)

Ride safe. Have fun. Keep smiling. :-)

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Comment by rohny on September 3, 2012 at 7:46pm

i am 3 years late for this reply, but i think the Mumbai - " Khopoli -(8km uphill)- Lonavala " - Pune ride is a lot more strenuous than Pune-Mumbai..

Comment by Yandesh Gotey on April 5, 2012 at 9:32am

Mumbai- Lonavla-Pune !! today evening will let u knw hw it was!

Comment by Dhaval Philip Mathew on June 10, 2009 at 7:12pm
P.S.: btw i enjoyed my ride mumbai to pune
Comment by Dhaval Philip Mathew on June 10, 2009 at 7:11pm
i did the wrong way up... i did mumbai to pune... had to come bak the same day dats y came bak on a volvo...

after reading ur blog cursing myself for not riding back!!! :((

tcre.. dhaval
Comment by Chetan Ahuja on February 28, 2009 at 3:39pm
Hey Anil!! I'm in for Pune-Mumbai whenever it happens!! But please do let it happen before peak summer!!
Comment by Kaushik Iyer on February 23, 2009 at 3:10pm
At Ooty... the TFN guys planned it exactly that way... they had the 1st pit stop(lunch) at the end of gudaloor climb... a small decent to reach gudaloor town Ooty base... from there it was non-stop... while climbing ooty we ensured that if we needed to stop we don't stop at hairpins as it can be difficult resuming... rather stopped at straights.
From what I've enquired Pune-Mumbai is a lot easier on the engines that Mumbai-Pune thats why the race is always mum-pune than other way... also remember a cyclist raced the deccan queen... he too did it from Pune-mumbai :P. I'd say lets do Mumbai Pune it'll be more fun.
Comment by Prabuddha on February 23, 2009 at 1:41pm
If we can get a map showing gradients for the trip, we can break the journey up into stages, and break for lunch or just breathers at key points. The best point to break a ride is at a place from where you can resume and still ride some distance flat or downhill before the next climb starts.
Comment by Anil Uchil on February 23, 2009 at 1:14pm
Pune-Mumbai is not strenuous... Mumbai-Pune can be a bit more of a strain...
I do ride regularly, Vikram, but those are typical in-city rides - usually 30-35kms, seldom going beyond 40-50kms.
I trust you dont have any chronic issue with your back or legs, so there's nothing to worry about... :) I'm sure you'll find Pune-Mumbai equally effortless. :)
But as I mentioned earlier, Mumbai-Pune is more strenuous - more ascents, and steeper ones at that... and as Nishant pointed out, you reach the ghats after a long tiring ride to start with - esp'ly the fairly undulating Kalamboli to Khopoli stretch with its ups and downs...
Comment by Vikram Seth on February 22, 2009 at 7:23pm
Hi Anil...that's a ride that I too would like to do...but am not sure if my back & legs will hold out. You mentioned that the ride was not too strenuous....which makes me guess that you must be riding regularly and doing long rides ? Right ?...... just looking for tips on how I can make such a ride possible
Comment by Nishant on February 22, 2009 at 5:34am
I think you better do ride from Mumbai to Pune. From Panvel to Khopoli which is approx 35-40kms the roads are not flat but with short uphills and downhills alternating(some similar to what we experienced during Titwala ride..if you remember Kaushik)..After ~90km of ride to Khopoli begin the ghats..The initial 5km are old ghat which has some very steep turns and later 5kms on expressway...But by time ghats start one already has had a long tiring ride and so climbing becomes even more difficult...

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