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Being a true Mumbaikar and a biker, I had been riding to Lonavala and Pune very often on my Yamaha Fazer (Military Edition) as well as my new Royal Enfield Classic 350 (modified). Here, I am writing about my first long ride experience on my new Royal Enfield Classic 350 which turned out to be an experience that will last a lifetime. I was very eager to take my Enfield on a long ride since it is the first bike I purchased on my own. But I was pretty confused about the destination. I suddenly remembered what I had heard once from an experienced rider –
“Amateur riders choose a destination and start…..
Experienced ones choose a direction..
After all roads are meant for the journey; not the destination.”
So, I decided to follow my usual route and ride till I was contented.
Modifications on my Enfield
1. I have done few modifications on Enfield as per requirement and likes.
2. I am a person with a wide body frame. So first, I installed U-type handlebar with welded riser in thick pipe (Chrome finish). This handlebar nullified the vibrations to my grips and the difference between the stock n U-bar was clearly visible.
3. I had planned to ride early in the morning so I installed 5-LED Bar fog lamps on either side of the leg guard. Just to please the eyes, I had replaced the stock wheel rims with ‘Y’ Mac Wheels. The fog lamps and ‘Y’ Mac wheels which I have installed are not commonly seen and thus help in making my bike stand out from the crowd of Enfields on the roads.
4. Stock silencer didn’t look much attractive and sound that good to me. So I replaced it with an ‘upswept silencer’ which gives slightly louder and more pleasant thump. The sound is perfect to give you a feel of the bike but won’t be a pain to the ears.
5. I had issues with the tiny oil stains of engine and was sick of cleaning them. So, I had myself spray painted the engine completely black with a heat resistant spray. This avoids any stains on the block as well as gives the bike a stealthy look.
6. I have removed the pillion seat. The only advantage is that “Nothing comes between me and my bike!! The joy of riding alone cannot be put into words.. me and her.. that’s it”
Basic Checks before the trip
Smooth Clutch, new RE Oil, Lubricated Chain, Air Filter, Tyre Air Pressure (32 psi), full fuel tank and most importantly the BRAKES!!!!! Helmet, gloves, buff and jacket are must for me. Other than that, I prefer to carry an extra clutch cable, accelerator cable, chain lube and some extra engine oil in my saddle bag.
December 2016: The Ride Begins
I started my ride early morning at 0600 HRS from my residence at BARC, Mumbai. It was cold in the morning and vision bit unclear due to fog. It was manageable. I have a habit of riding my bike at moderate speeds (40-50 km/h) for the first 15-20 kilometres till I feel confident that the engine has heated enough to reach its optimum operating temperature. It took me about 40 mins to finally leave Mumbai. The sight of the empty JNPT road is something which appeals to the riders who prefer to ride alone like me. I cruised at an average speed of 70 km/h thereafter. My first stop was going to be Lion Point, Lonavala.
Riding through the twists and turns to reach Lion’s Point is an experience which never gets old. It is as good as the first time. As I continued to climb the ghats, I realized how effortlessly the Enfield took on ghats as compared to my Fazer. It was as smooth as it was on the straight roads. The breathtaking views of the Sahyadris are pure bliss and make you forget all of your worries. While I was on my way up the ghats through the dense fog, I remembered a quote my friend Prajyot Hajare had once said-
“I take you out in the dim moonlight,
to see your body hit the daylight,
here we are under the dawn night,
don’t you ever leave my sight.”
A ride to Lonavala isn’t complete if you don’t have tea and cheese pakodas at Lion point. After I was triumphantly happy with Lonavala, I continued my ride. It is often said – “If you are unhappy at the moment, drop a gear and disappear.”
By this time I had realized which are the places I wanted to cover on this ride. Kolhapur, my native place, was the final destination for me. The road from Lonavala to Pune is pretty straight without many turns. But after 9 AM, the villages beside the highways slowly come to life and traffic increases a little bit. It felt like a hindrance in my carefree ride but it is lovely to see how activities pace up around the roads as we cover kilometres. Now, I had to ride responsibly and hence was on alert mode, especially at the junctions. My second stop was at CCD, Narhe. Unlike the routine days, today I was strapped by limited time as I hadn’t set up any time-boundations for the ride. I was a bit hungry so decided to savour on Chicken Tikka sandwich and Devil’s Own. Pune will always be very special to me, not only because I have completed my engineering here but also because I believe I was born in Mumbai, but I grew up in Pune. Out of nowhere, I decided to spend a night at my brother’s residence in Kharadi. That evening, I visited NVCC ISKCON and my college. For all those who believe temples are for boring religious people, take a look at the following pictures. NVCC ISKCON does have an awesome nightlife which is blissful and full of devotion. It was an evening I will never forget. I spent about 2 hours at the temple and had their world renowned ‘maha-prasad’. A calm mind and a full stomach is all we need for a good sleep.
I was convinced that I did the right thing by staying in Pune for a day. Next day morning around 5 AM, it was extremely cold and the engine got the cooling it needed all night. I kick-started the classic beauty and it started with a slow thump. In few seconds, it was up to its euphony. Meanwhile, I was a bit confused whether to start off or not because of the low visibility and low temperature. And the inner voice said “Dekha Jayega!” It was the first time I used my fog lamps and they worked flawlessly. My sight was improved by a mile and riding in the fog became easier. I had covered hardly 40 kilometres, barely some distance on Satara Highway, I could not handle the breeze anymore even at 60 km/h. I was shivering and I decided to stop for a while.
“That romantic moment between Enfield and me, when it was chilling cold in morning and the heat of the engine kept me warm!”
Fortunately, I found a tea stall. With every sip of tea, I could feel it moving down my throat and slowly warming me up. I was soon fine. It was probably too early in the morning and traffic was almost nil. I could ride freely. As a test for my bike’s top-speed, I decided to take it to the extremes. I could feel that the vibrations had increased a lot when I touched 110 km/h. I slowed down immediately and decided to maintain a cruising speed of 85 km/h. This day I realized the real joy of riding Enfield is feeling the power, listening to its sonorous thump and connecting the mind with its engine. After riding 68 kilometres, I reached the Khambatki Ghat, a part of Sahyadri mountain range. It is a small yet steep ghat of about 6.5 kilometers but has picturesque mountain-scapes and a lovely climate.
‘Somewhere in middle of Khambatki Ghat’
I had breakfast at Sai Park Inn restaurant which is a few kilometres after the ghat ends. A lot of tourist vehicles and buses had stopped there. The bike had gained significant attention and people took photos with it. Inside I was all proud and blushing (Yeah!! That’s my bike!). At that very moment, a touching incident happened. An old lady walked to me and asked me about the bike. She had become emotional because she recollected that her father had bought a Harley in his last days and he used to ride alone. I said “Coming from a middle-class family, Harley is too big a dream for me.” She immediately said “If this Enfield is your first bike, you will definitely have a Harley very soon.” Sometimes you get blessed when least expected by the unknowns too. She wished me good luck for my journey and left with her husband in a Mercedes Benz GLA. I was touched by our small interaction.
I refueled my bike in Satara. I was a bit tired by now so decided to take a small break at Kanse Punjabi Dhaba. I waited till I felt completely refreshed. Just to enhance my mood, I played music on JBL Go Bluetooth speaker (I do not advise doing this.). The Satara-Kolhapur road is a very relaxed and well-constructed road without many junctions. I could cruise comfortably at 80 km/h, listening to the music. The Panchganga river welcomes you to Kolhapur. At last, I visited the famous Mahalaxmi temple of Kolhapur and met my Grandma.
“On The Banks Of Panchganga River: I Sat There And Forgot And Forgot Until What Remained Was The River That Went By And I Who Watched.”
There was a time when I used to hate Royal Enfield but now, my opinion about the bike has completely changed. I have ridden a lot of bikes till date and I have to admit that RE is not among the fastest Indian bikes for sure, but a Royal Enfield makes a connect straight with the heart of the rider. A machine with beauty and power like this can only be complimented as follows :
“Appreciating The Beauty While Taming The Beast,
Here I Ride… Conquering The Streets…….”
SATYAjit Desai Instagram: stjtdesai (SATYAjit) Facebook: http://facebook.com/stjtdesai Email Id: email@example.com