4-6 September 2017 – Lies and Visarjan
I’ve forgotten my GoPro charging cable back in Harnai. The owner of Bhavani Residency promises over the phone to have it shipped to me at Guhagar. I check into a luxurious cottage at Nakshatra Holiday Home for a well-deserved break while I wait for the cable. Over the next two days the owner of Bhavani Residency dilly-dallies over the phone. It’s been shipped, it’s reached Chiplun, it will be delivered today evening, tomorrow early morning – every excuse in the book. I trust him for a day then two and finally on the third day (6th September) my patience gives in. Screw the cable, I have more important things to do, beaches to see!
Meanwhile, I’m having a ball of a time at Guhagar. It is the first beach, amongst the long stretch of Konkan beaches, with white sand unlike beaches north of Vashishti river. Guhagar is also a very long beach and extends for almost six kilometres between two hillocks. There’s hardly anyone to be seen on the north end of the beach and my daily routine is to cycle to the beach, swim and float around followed by a Konkani thali or fish at Hotel Rajgad for lunch, a siesta and some light reading in the evening.
The day before I leave is the last day of Ganesh Visarjan and here’s me spending the day with the revellers at Guhagar Beach.
7 September 2017 – Down Under
From Guhagar the road to Palshet is lush green. Today I learn firsthand why people don’t bicycle in Konkan during the monsoons despite its lush green allure. I am 15 kilometres from Taswal (jetty for Jaigad) and I am drenched. It is a sunny afternoon, the temperature is in the mid-30s and the humidity is a 100%. The tarmac is shimmering, like some vampire it sucks the energy right out of my muscles. Every kilometre I struggle, sweat more and eventually I’m puking by the side of the road. No ORS/energy drink can keep up with the water I lose every minute. I seek out trees along the road every 500 metres to rest. The helmet has long been discarded for a baseball cap and sunglasses. But even so, I slowly limp on the last plateau before the descent to Taswal. By the time I am at the Jetty I have lost all pretence to make it to Ganpatipule today. My stomach is churning bile and I throw up a couple of times which leaves me a bit dizzy. Across at Jaigad, I find out that there’s a decent hotel that caters to the JSW Electricity plant and I check into a room that faces the sea and crash on my bed.
8-9 September 2017 – Mid way
The next day I take it easy and cycle till Ganpatipule, 25 kilometres away. From my road trip in 2015, I know there is a cliff just beyond Ganpatipule which is the best sunset view point on the Konkan coast.
I spend the evening at this place running the fatbike downhill and back up the cliff. By now my confidence in the bike has grown and I’m not afraid to put it through its paces over rough ground. Minus the bags, the bike feels much more nimble and I manage to crash a couple of times before better sense prevails. I wish time would go along slowly today but I cannot stay for a few days as I have my favourite beach coming up next – Aare Waare.
It is one of the cleanest beaches I have visited in India – blessed with a breathtaking expanse of beautiful white sand and crystal clean water. Off the tourist radar, this is my favourite beach along the Konkan coast. Period. I celebrate this by leaping off my bike and running to the water – buck naked! The beach is all mine and I am thankful for this grace. I spend a long time paddling in the Arabian Sea, watching the far out fishing trawlers and the clouds floating on the horizon. I wish I could stay here for a week or more, but that’s a luxury best left for the next bicycle ride.
By the evening I am in Ratnagiri. This marks the midway point for the 100BeachRide. And what a ride it’s been. I’ve been drenched, flooded, dehydrated, I have tasted the freshest fish and skinny-dipped on the most beautiful beach. Will the other half of this journey be just as exciting? Ride with me from Ratnagiri as I make my way to the gastronomic shores of Malvan and onto Panjim.