Taasgoan Ride

Ten enfields riding from sunrise to sunset-
well this was what was getting me excited all week long, i had heard about this ride to taasgaon when i joined the roadshakers on wednesday, b.k had said it’l be a 700 km ride, i  didnt know if i could pull it off, not because of lack of experience since i had done srinagar to ladakh twice but because my bike was just two weeks old and i hadn’t learnt properly how the f-i engine really works, since we were going in rural areas i was scared of breakdowns and not getting help, plus my exams were coming close but then  i somehow convinced myself for the ride, telling myself it would my last long ride before the exams start.

sunday morning-

we met up at city pride kothrud i reached at 6 a.m while the others  came around 6.30 a.m , i guess i came early because it was my first ride with the roadshakers. we started inspecting the bikes and discussing about the ride while i kept asking questions like -“sir how much time will it take” or “sir how far is the place” i had no idea where taasgaon was,  anway, we started riding at 6.50 a.m, i could see the sunrise in the distance and over the ghats near katraj tunnel i felt as if we’re perpetually chasing  the horizon, we rode about 70 kms and stopped somewhere near mahabaleshwar to have  breakfast, we were eight riders who started from pune and the riders consisted of pravin patil, sam, terence, somesh, yogesh, aatish, arun while rohan and bhagirath joined us at the breakfast point, their excuse- they were drunk from last night and hence woke up late. yea right!
rohan’s bike was leaking a lot of oil but  he seemed to care less about it, probably because of his experience of riding, he’s one of the founder members of roadshakers btw, after breakfast rohan, b.k and sam decided to stay back to work on rohan’s bike while we started off for karad, a small town on the bangalore highway from where we had to take a diversion for kokrud, we had decided to go to panala fort before going to taasgaon as we wanted to explore the area a little, we stopped a little before karad to have lassi while yogesh had his special milk , well he has to have milk after every one hour, maybe thats why sam calls him “dudhiya saamp” and maybe thats why his stomach is always upset, we forgot about rohan and company and started chillin out , yogesh started drinkin his milk, atish started smoking while i started taking pictures and suddenly we saw three bikes heading towrads karad at about 110 km/hr and pravin started shouting that now we’re all screwed cuz we forgot to put a man on the highway to tell those three bikers from where exactly we had to take the diversion, luckily rohan knew the place and he stopped on the flyover and he did screw pravin patil’s balls a bit.

Me, somesh and terence filled fuel in our bikes while the elder guys were getting a long lecture from rohan about how badly organized the trip was, well i dont know if it was badly organized since it was my first ride and i was having quite a hell of a time, from there we went to kokrud and then to malkapur, these are places on the road to panala fort, we stopped at sum river that flows near malkapur and decided to relax under a bridge , it was a little off the road and atish’s bike broke down, according to sam, atish’s bike is jinxed, since he got it from juna bazaar, we relaxed near the river while rohan told the new guys, me and somesh to give a little introduction, while pravin and atish had gone on pravin’s bike to get a mechanic and also wada pav and samosas, we had a lot of time to kill and sam started with his jokes about putli baai and nehru, and we started making code words for words that we couldn’t otherwise in public 🙂

The samosas and wada paavs arrived , the mechanic had the tool kit for the enfiled and also the wada paavs and samosas in a big sack, and we would ask for anything he would take it out from his sack and would give it to us, he was like santa claus to us exhausted, thirsty, hungry guys. we started out after our snacks and headed towards panala fort, the ride was a little challenging as there were a lot of bends in the road and some corners even had gravels but we had to ride fast as mr. pravin was riding fast and we had to keep up withh him as we wouldnt know wat we would do if we got lost in that confusing area.

we reached panala fort, had lime sodas and yogesh again had his milk, we started towards taasgaon after a while, after riding for about an hour atish’s bike broke down again while we were quite ahead of them, rohan, arun, atish , yogesh and bhagi waited with  him to repair his bike while me, pravin, somesh, sam and terence found a nice off the road track and started riding around clocking our to and fro timings on the track, we waited for about 20 minutes and then the remaining riders joined us and we went further ahead on the off road track and reached some farm which was surrounded with nice palm trees, we stopped there for a small break and to enjoy the sunset, we clicked some great photographs and started on our way to taasgaon again, we were riding on a dusty potholed road and could see the sun setting in the distance, the dust and the sunset created some amazing light effects (some type of tyndall effect perhaps)  add to that the nice clean country wind and that made for a perfect biking experience, after riding for about 20 more minutes we reached pravin’s farm where we had some nice fresh grapes, pravin  took us to some far away field where  sam, rohan and atish could have their cigarettes without making pravin’s brothers feel awkward, we freshened up and rode to pravin’s home in taasgaon where his mother and father  live, sam and bhagi  bought beers on the way back while somesh  bought bottled water, we reached the farm house, and waited for dinner while rohan, sam etc had their drinks while me, somesh and arun finished off their snacks, dinner came after a while it was bhakri chicken, sheera and rassaa (chicken curry) we were damn hungry and it was cold hence we enjoyed the hot food a lot and probably ate a little too much, rohan had started an introduction round again and atish and rohan told about themselves and how they had started riding with the roadshakers, well the rest of us didnt get a turn since dinner was served just after atish’s turn we slept off after the dinner.

atish, sam and arun slept outside while the rest of us split up and  slept in different rooms on the floor, at about 3 a.m in the morning we were disturbed by sam knocking on the door to let him in, he needed to go to the bathroom because he had acidity and had over eaten, i’v never seen a man more deperate to go to the toilet than sam that particular night, sam ws feeling cold outside so he came and slept inside and then he went to sleep outside again.

monday morning –

we woke up in the morning at  5.30 a.m and saw rohan getting ready to leave, all of us hurried up and bhagi was roaming outside the bathroom  with  hands on his stomach while everybody was taking turns  to use the bathroom, finally  we all got ready, had some trouble putting my camera equipment bag over somesh’s bike again, couldn’t put it on my bike since it is a single seater, we inspected our bikes and then started on our way.

from pravin’s farm till u hit the main road there’s a dusty, very narow track on which only one bike can go at a time, riding through the grape farms on that track during sunrise is the brightest memory from the entire trip, the way the sun gives warmth on a cold morning while the wind hits you while riding, mesmerised is the word that explains how i really felt, well it was short lived as yogesh’s bike had a puncture shortly after hitting the main road, me, arun, bhagi stayed back with him and  helped him to fix the tyre, i got to learn a lot about changing the tyre and putting it back, i had no idea how to do it on an enfield, having ridden a pulsar for about 5 years, that was the time when i got to talk to bhagi, known as ‘polar bear’ in the group and reffered to by rohan as a ‘beautiful fat lady’ , he knows a lot about the bikes , he was telling me about a fellow photographer of mine, nipun srivastava who used to ride with the roadshakers and now had his own group called the filrelords, well i’m sure there’s a long story behind that, somebody will probably tell me that someday.

after fixing yogesh’s tyre the four of us started riding towards karad, the small town on the bangalore highway from which we had taken the road to panala, we met up with the other guys who had been waiting for us for a long time, we started our journey back to pune on the mumbai bangalore highway while rohan had already left for bangalore, after riding for about half  hour we stopped for breakfast and fuel, somesh’s bike was having a lot of problems on the way, guess thunderbirds are not made to be abused, his leg guard kept falling off, and thee nut off his fuel tank fell off and it came loose, it appeared as if part by part his bike is  falling, others moved up ahead while i waited for somesh since he was left alone, trying to repai his numerous problems, we hurried up after that and caught up with the rest of the gang we all stopped at the diversion for katraj from the mumbai bangalore highway and then we dispersed.

it was a whole new experience for me, i enjoyed the trip , i would definitely make more such long trips with the roadshakers, it was my first ride with  a biking club and i do feel satisfied and refreshed after he ride, the city life does make me crazy since i’m not very used to it, being an army officer’s son i’v been constantly on the move and have been constantly travelling and hence i need such rides every once in a while  to make my heart happy , well from how i see it, roadshakers is not exactly a serious biking club like you hear about them, they’r just a bunchh of chilled out friendly guys who like to ride and are there for each other all throughout the journey, the older members of the group are respected by the group members, riding with these guys was an honour for me and it was quite a long ride for all off us to open up and become good friends.

akhil sharma