12th December, 2015
Mumbai – Belgaum (525 kms)
Five months of planning, long discussions with south Indian friends in office, countless travel blogs on bcmtouring.com and reading a travel book on India, that’s what it took me to finalize this trip. And in the first week of December I cancelled it. Me, along with my cycling buddies planned a cycling trip to France in August, 2016. To save funds for the France trip I had to cancel my South Indian Solo trip. After cancelling the trip, I was feeling something missing in me. I was feeling guilty for cancelling my first solo road trip. My inner voice was getting louder and one fine morning it just shouted “Don’t think, just leave”.
So that’s it. Instead of cancelling the trip which was initially a month long trip plan, covering Munnar, Periyar, Kanyakumari, Pondicherry and Chennai, I decided to cut this trip short. Instead of a month long ride I planned a 15 day plan, which during the trip turned into a 20 day long.
At 4 in the morning on 12th December, my alarm rang. I woke up from my sleep (I hardly slept due to the excitement), got ready and went into my living room and took a look at the riding gears and my bags that I had arranged there the previous night. I smiled and said to myself, “Pranay, you are going have an awesome trip”. I carried all my gears down near my bike. Loaded and tied all the bags on my bike. Put my riding gears on and started the bike. The sound and headlight of my bike woke up the sleeping security guard. He opened the gate and looked at my fancy riding gears. I said good bye to him and left the residential complex.
For two and half hours I rode on the dark streets. I hate to ride in the dark and especially more when the light beam coming from the vehicle on the opposite side pokes you in the eye. By 7 am, I was near Lonavala. I took a wrong turn near Pune and entered the main city which was crowded. It took me a while to be back on the highway. After leaving Pune the roads were wide with less vehicles. I opened the throttle and was feeling hungry. By 10 am I had crossed 184 kms. I stopped near Ramnagar for a brunch, which is on the outskirts of Pune. While removing gears I noticed many eyes observing my strange outfit (my riding gears). I acted like I didn’t noticed them noticing me. Within half an hour I was back on the road with food in my stomach. Sip of hot coffee gave me the energy I needed.
As I rode further ahead towards Satara-Kolhapur, the highway became damn boring. The road was just straight for a very looooong stretch and without any scenery to enjoy. For hours and hours I was seeing industrial complexes on both sides of the highway. People dressed in white from head to toe, driving tractors loaded with sugarcanes, and some reckless local riders which very cutting my path and slowing me down. There was absolutely no driving discipline in these region. The ride became so hell boring that I started doubting if my decision of this solo road trip was a good one or the stupid one. If this is the case on the very first day then how am I supposed to continue this ride in coming days. I soon got the answer I was seeking. As soon as I crossed the Maharashtra border and entered Karnataka, the road quality changed dramatically. Even the color of the sky appeared more bluish . The view was superb. The energy in me which was sucked out of me by the Satara-Kolhapur highway was back. I felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins. The road had some amazing curves and I was enjoying it more and more. We bikers just love the curves. Ahem… I’m talking about the roads.
Some Riding Photos From My Ride in Day 1
From then on I started enjoying the ride and realized that my decision of the solo road trip was indeed a great decision. Little did I know that in next 20 days I’ll get addicted to Solo Road Trips. After about an hour or so of this great ride I reached Belgaum and started searching for accommodation. I covered almost all the streets of the small Belgaum town looking for accommodation. I saw many lodges but they did not have parking space of their own. I didn’t want to stay at a place where I can’t park my bike safely. It was 6:30 and getting dark. I asked several local guys for accommodation options and they directed me towards a three star hotel nearby. I wanted to keep my budget low therefore I avoid expensive accommodations, but I had no choice. I thought of three star hotel as my last option. I went to the reception and asked about the availability of the rooms. I was told that the rooms are not available but if I wait till 8 pm then I might get a room. I didn’t want to wait till 8 pm, that too just for the probability of getting a room. I asked the receptionist for the accommodation option and was directed towards Pai Resorts. I rode towards Pai Resort. Darkness of the night had taken over the skies. The blue sky turned dark. Fortunately I got a room in Pai resort. The resort was really beautiful and the room was great too. The staff was very friendly. While my booking process was taking place, I was asked many questions about my journey and my past adventures. I answered all their questions happily. Finally one of the staff member Mr. Anand Patil took some of my bags from me and took me to my room. We had a good talk. I was happy that my day’s journey ended in a nice place. I took a hot shower. Since the resort offered WiFi, I downloaded two apps to help me avoid the accommodation hunt that I experienced today.One was Booking.com and other was AirBnB. Using Booking.com app you can book a hotel room online and AirBnB was for booking home-stay. Since I had already booked accommodation for Hampi I didn’t need to use it on the same day.
I went to the dining area and had a delicious dinner. After the dinner I was back in my room. I rested my back on the cozy bed and imagined my ride tomorrow to Hampi.