Solo cycling trip - Mumbai to Ratnagiri - April 2019

Sandeep__Barve

New Member
Hi All – Returning to BCMT after a very long hiatus. Want to share about a recently completed solo cycling trip through coastal Kokan region of Maharashtra.
I started cycling about a year back. My daily commute, a 30km round trip, is now on bicycle.
After some research, finalized on the Triban100 road bike from Decathlon. Triban 100 Road Bike
Total damage to pocket approx 23k, including bike cost, helmet, riding gloves, back and front lights etc. I find Decathlon goods decent in quality and relatively easy on the pocket. Similar bikes from other manufacturers were > 30k.
One of my neighbours is a cyclist. He rode to Goa (long time back), and actually wrote a book about it! I got a signed copy for myself and read through in one sitting. Inspired me to try something new.
I had been riding for about an year. Daily 30km round trip and approx. 50km on weekends (single morning ride), and felt confident enough to undertake my own solo expedition in April 2019. Was rightly advised to avoid the summer season but with work and personal commitments, the 14th to 20th April period was the most suitable from point of view of taking leaves, so finally decided to take up this project in April.

Final route map for the trip was;
Day 1Home to Gateway of India >> Ferry to Mandwa Jetty >> Ride from Mandwa to Velas AgarApprox. 105 – 107 km (7.00 am to 6.30 pm)
Day 2Velas Agar to HarihareshwarApprox.42 – 43 km (8.00 am to 12.30 PM)
Day 3Harihareshwar to Ladghar BeachApprox. 78 km (7.30 am to 6.00 pm)
Day 4Ladghar Beach to VelneshwarApprox. 65 km (7.00 am to 5.30 pm)
Day 5Velneshwar to RatnagiriApprox. 65 km (8.00 am to 5.00 pm)
Approx 355 km total ride distance

From cycling in Mumbai, climbing flyovers and all, I had imagined that driving on country roads will be similar, but I was in for a steep learning curve once I hit the hills on day 2 (no pun intended)!

Route map
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Sandeep__Barve

New Member
Day 1
Left Vile Parle at 7.00 am and made it in time to catch the 8.30 ferry to Mandwa (Alibagh) from Gateway. Ticket 135/- for me and 50/- for the bike for 45 minutes boat ride.

Leaving Mumbai behind
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On the ferry

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Road from Mandwa to Alibagh is in good condition. I could ride at steady pace. Much of the road was through semi-rural area. Reached a place called Korlai around noon. The heat had now gotten quite oppressive. Luckily I found a newly constructed bus shelter with a working fan! Put the cycle in the shelter and after a snack of chikki, and frooti went to sleep for about two and half hours at the bus shelter.
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Started again at about 2.45 – 3.00, when the heat had reduced a bit. The roads after Korlai were in bad condition and my speed reduced considerably. Plus, I was hungry now as I had not had much to eat since morning. Stopped for another break after about 30 min and had a pack of biscuits and two nariyal paani.
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The road in this area runs along the sea shore. Passed the beach town of Kashid on the way. At about 5 I reached Agardanda. By this time I was worrying about my night halt. Asked around in Agardanda village if anyone let out rooms, but there was nothing available. Went to the ferry crossing at Agardanda. The main ferry was still at the opposite bank of the creek, but luckily there was a motor launch crossing just then. They took me and my cycle for 30 Rs.
On the opposite bank (at Dighi), again asked if there were any home-stays, but got negative responses. I knew that I could find homestays in a village called Velas about 10km away but it was getting dark now so I was hoping to get something in Dighi itself. However, carried on to cover the drudge ride of last 10km. The road rose sharply up here and my little road bike with just 7 gears gave up! For the first time, I realized that climbing ghats is nothing like climbing flyovers in the city! I had to walk up some of the steep gradients here. Finally made it to Velas by about 6.45 pm. I had been on the road for almost 12 hours that day. Yet I wasn’t feeling very tired.
Found a home-stay within my budget, had an early dinner, and promptly dropped off to sleep. Was woken by some noise at about 1.00am and for a few seconds I couldn’t remember where I was! Some new guest had checked in. They had apparently had a breakdown in their car and managed to find this place in the dead of the night.

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I had planned to start early but couldn’t wake up before 6.45. Started late that day at 8.00 am. The homestay owners weren’t up and about till 7.30.
The area was full of bird life. In the previous evening also, I had seen lots of bulbuls, hornbills, and even an owl.
This little sunbird was at my window in the morning!
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Day 2
It was extremely hot from early morning itself. And the hills started now. I had to take frequent breaks. First day’s josh was gone and legs were tired. The constant hill climbing on broken roads was taking a toll. From about 8.00 am to 12.30 pm I managed to do only about 42 – 43 km. Saw a lot of birds and even a mongoose. Harihareshwar village was bereft of tourists. Kokan coast is dotted with several of these temple towns that are frequented by devotees. A large portion of the population of cities like Mumbai and Pune has its roots in Kokan. And they make sure to visit these temples at least once in a year.
Found a nice vegetarian restaurant in Harihareshwar and had a square meal for 90 Rs. I was too tired to go ahead on this day. Checked into a hotel and called it a day. Washed clothes, had a bath and slept through the afternoon. My sandals stitching had come off the previous evening. I had been looking unsuccessfully for a cobbler all along. Even Harihareshwar village didn’t have a cobbler. As I had no other choice, I purchased a couple of Fevi-Quick’s at a small shop and poured the contents into the sandal’s seam. It did the trick.
 

Sandeep__Barve

New Member
Day 3
Next morning, I started early. There was another ferry crossing to be done. The jetty was only about 4km from Harihareshwar. But the ferry didn’t start till 7.30. So again I took the small motor-boat to cross the creek. Ticket for self and cycle – 20 Rs.

Temple near jetty

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Sunrise

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As I landed on the other side, the toughest part of the journey so far began. It was almost continuous climb of about 13-14km that took more than 2 hours to complete.
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Finally reached the top of the hill and then cannoned down to the other side! Stopped for breakfast of tea and biscuits at a small village shop. All the villages that I went through had continuous supply of electricity and cold water, soft drinks were available everywhere, and even ice cream was available at many places.
At about 10.30, reached Kelshi. It is a large village with well stocked shops, medical stores and garage should you need one. And the village had a cobbler! He was just about opening his shop when I reached there. Got my sandals repaired (and also heard an earful from the mochi kaka for putting Fevi-Quick into the stitching!)

Somewhere between Kelshi and Murdi

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Sandeep__Barve

New Member
At about noon, reached the village of Murdi. Found a nice quiet temple to rest. The village panchayat office was just behind this temple. Walked in there and asked if they knew anyone can provide lunch for one person. The clerk at the panchayat office was helpful. He quickly called a couple of people and arranged for me to have lunch at a house nearby. Had a grand meal, topped up with full lota of chhass! After lunch, came back to temple and had a nice nap for an hour and half.

Temple at Murdi

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Started again at about 2.45 – 3.00 pm. This part of the road was mostly along the sea and I was treated to some breathtaking views! The road goes past a cluster of forts near Harnai (Harnai, Suvarnadurg, Kanakdurg, Fatehgad and Goa (not the Goa wala Goa). Didn’t take any pictures of the forts. Made mental note to explore the forts in next visit.

The humble ST climbing up from Harnai village

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Somewhere on the coastal road near Murud

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By early evening, reached Ladghar and found a room at a home-stay near the beach.

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Sandeep__Barve

New Member
Day 4
On day 4 again started early. My objective for the day was Velneshwar, about 65km away. On the way, I wanted to visit the temple of our family deity at a village called Kolthare. But I soon got lost and instead of going along the coast towards Burondi & Kolthare, took the wrong turn and took the road going to Dapoli. I have made it a habit to periodically check with people if I’m going in the right direction. A boy on a bike guided me back towards Ladghar and pointed to the correct turn towards Burondi. There was some road construction work going on and I had missed the turn due to that.

Wooden house

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Our family deity temple

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After darshan at the temple, I made it to Dabhol by mid-day. Crossed the Dabhol creek by ferry.

At the Dabhol jetty

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It was about 12.30 – 12.45 by this time and too hot to carry on. This time I found a Ganesh temple to sleep! Reached Velneshwar by early evening. Found a home stay near the temple with AC rooms and nice home cooked meals.
Again saw a lot of bird and animal life on day 3. Saw mongoose, Malabar giant squirrel, and a pangolin, AND, as I was approaching Velneshwar village, saw a pair of jackals! Unfortunately the only camera I had was my phone and that was always in my backpack. Couldn’t take many pictures.

Day 5
Made a leisurely start as I had to cover only about 65km today. The road was again all up-and-down through hilly terrain. Managed to cover just 16 km in two and half hours. After crossing the Jaigad creek, the road was fairly level, and I managed good speed in this stretch. This part is mostly along the sea coast with some grand views of the Arabian sea. On a previous trip, we had been to the Jaigad lighthouse also which offered some great views.
Had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in Malgund near the temple town of Ganpatipule. When I enquired with the restaurant owner about places to spend the afternoon, he suggested I check into the bhakta-niwas run by the temple trust. They charge 100 Rs / 24 hours for a clean dormitory bed, locker, cold drinking water and toilet and safe parking! I checked in, and to their surprise checked out in three hours.
The last leg of the journey was now on and I made it to Ratnagiri in good time.

Near Aare-Ware beach

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The bus to Mumbai was at 9.00 pm. Rode around town generally, had a small meal and came back to bus stand. Boarded the Shivshahi bus with cycle safely tucked in the dicky and reached Mumbai next morning at 5am.
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Theloststory

Well-Known Member
Amazing. What did you do about luggGe? The small bag you are carrying was enough?
Did you use maps for navigation? Phone charging?
 
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