The ride weekend began with the usual drill. Saturday morning 4.30 am alarm. Snooze, snooze, snooze. Snuggle out of bed at 5 am. Step out of home at 6 am. I threw a cotton sweatshirt over a breathe-easy tshirt and slipped into a jacket, jeans and my trusty chukka boots. In my backpack, I threw another tshirt, sleeping shorts, swimming shorts, some socks and underwear, a swiss knife, sunglasses and some cash. iPhone was my phone, connected device and camera. Helmet, gloves and good to go.

Just me and my bike, this was going to be fun.

Sat, 10 Mar. This was my first solo ride with the Classic 500. Riding the NH17 to Ganapatipule beach near Ratnagiri, about 400 kms from Bombay.

The morning light makes everything look so beautiful. Even if it is brick kilns and marshy swamps.

Vada pav and pohe at Panvel intersection, which has now become a cult breakfast with bikers.

The first 50 kms out of Bombay is the tax you have to pay to get out of the city, no matter what direction. I had started before daybreak and rode the first 50 kms before sunrise. And it would be another 30 kms before the highway started to give you any love.

By the 80 kms mark, the bike found its rhythm. I found my rhythm with the bike and the road. Everything seemed so much more beautiful. I started loving every corner, every bend. Even if it was a straight road, I loved how the tar rolled beneath the machine.

The only picture I managed to take of myself, apart from the shadows and reflections. I was glad I had layered it up. It was colder than I expected for March.

Dry trees with red flowers ...

Caves etched inside a mountain ...

Terrace farms on hillsides ... all added to the charm of NH17.

And suddenly the road would surprise you with a beautiful river. A good stretch of NH17 ran along rivers when it was not crossing the ghats.

I lost track of how many rivers I met.

Or how many bridges I crossed.

A bright yellow Hanuman mandir on NH17

It was joy riding the ghat sections, especially the non-blind corners with no approaching traffic.

At around 2 pm at Chiplun, I dropped the NH17 and picked up the state highway and further on, the district roads. It slowed me down a bit, but the roads were much more scenic.

Fish thali at Hotel Ajinkya in Margataman. One thing I couldn't miss noticing on this trip - the food's got expensive.

That stream.

That loner tree.

The best surprise of the trip was when after riding the state highways and district roads in a direction that was generally correct, I was suddenly thrown out of the hills into a beautiful bay, the Jaigad Khaadi.

A gorgeous bridge crossed to the other side of the bay .

I stood in the middle of the bridge knowing that another hour could pass and not single vehicle would pass by. Ah, the romance of being alone.

I see you.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Cacti for farm boundaries, how's that!

And that blue sky.

Ganapatipule 0 kms. You approach Ganapatipule through a plateau descending into a cliff on the edge of the beach.

About 2 kms form the coast, you start seeing a vast shimmering ocean, waiting to welcome you. That, and the view of the beach from the cliff, is enough to take your breath away.

Ganapatipule was a super-long stretch of beautiful white sands and frothy white waves. Even for a Saturday evening, the crowd on the beach was, at best, sparse.

I left my shoes on the beach (forgot to pack flip-flops) and went in for a swim. After the swim, I came back and lay flat on the beach. All I could see was white sky above me. Nothing but white. How many times do we experience seeing nothing with our eyes wide open?

Dinner was another fish thali at a Malwani joint across the road from my hotel. Bangda made way for Surmai with a side of prawns masala.

Sun, 11 Mar. Ganapatipule beach in the morning light. I stayed at Morya Resort near the beach for the night. For Rs. 700 for a night, Morya offered a clean and comfortable room in a reasonably new property.

Started riding back to Bombay at 9 am on the second day.

Skyblue, green, brown with a dash of spiralling white. Nature has its own way of color-blocking.

I am sure this is what Tata imagined when they were building the Nano. Putting it in front of every home in India.

Riding along a river. More charm, more charm.

The Classic 500 is such a beautifully proportioned bike. I could keep looking at it all day and not get tired. Thank you Royal Enfield for making beautiful stuff.

Lunch on day 2 at a highway side joint on NH17. Meh.

Made like a gun. Rides like a bullet.

Long shadows on the evening of day 2. The last 100 kms bringing the bike back to the city was a pain in the ass (literally). Having to cut through the returning traffic of trucks and weekenders was not fun. But you got to do what you got to do.

Two terrific days, 770 awesome kms and one gorgeous beach. Couldn't have got more out of it. I was glad I knocked off a long ride before summer commenced in this part of the country. Maybe the hills now in summer.

Solo travel has a cleansing effect on your soul. Like a detox diet for the mind. There is enough beauty in the world to inspire all men, women, children. And then some. What is it with our lives that we start ignoring the beautiful, stop loving the simple, and start chasing the mundane?

Tags: India, Ride, Royal Enfield

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