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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Ride to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan: Part 1- Ride


If it wouldn't been Highway, I would have been High another Way ~ Ghumakkar

Only thing that I don’t like attaching my rides is the ‘reasons’, and satirically it has been ‘those reasons’ that inspired me to get on some of my best rides of the short Life I have lived till date.
One such ride was the last week’s month's Mumbai-Jaisalmer. Rides to Nagpur and Jaisalmer have been on my itinerary since a long time, owing to my Geologists friends being posted there. Though, Nagpur is still to be done, I went to Jaisalmer on just a week’s planning. A message to my broken-ride-hearts Watsapp Group ‘Decide & Ride’, two friends agreed for the trip and finally one of them got along.

Ride
This is was the first ride in many a sense. I was lonely, though not solo; no smartphone with me, no deliberate routing/mapping done, and a very limited blog-survey over the roads and places. Target was to ride those ~1100 km in 2days, Day 1 from Mumbai to Mehsana and Day 2 from Mehsana to Mumbai.
Freedom and Achtung!
Mehsana is a small town, located some 90 kilometers north of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat. It is about 600kms from Mumbai and is the place where I did my first solo ride. Sandesh aka Sandy joined me at Kalwa, from where we started early in the morning of Friday, 22nd Feb. Aim was to cross Ghodbunder Road, Virar before first stop. Temperature was still on the colder side and so I had to stop at Fountain Plaza to wear the liner inside my armoured jacket. Riding on NH 8, we witnessed Sunrise on our right over the ghats before we stopped for tea. By that time I realised there is some problem with Achtung’s throttle cable, luckily there was an RE service centre near that teashop, but to our dismay it was 8:30 in the morning and so we had to wait for over 2 hours before the mechanic came and changed the cable. From there we were riding about 100kilometers in each stretch on awesome 4 to 6 lanes, over-bridged NH 8 of Gujarat state. Under construction stretches near Kamraj and Bharuch are now done and ride was too smooth and mostly hassle-free till we had to take old NH8 from Vadodara to Ahmedabad. Diversions marred our speed and later we lost in maze of Sardar Patel Ring Road trying to exit towards Mehsana. Anyways, solving the puzzle of Great Ahmedabad Ring Road, we reached my friend’s place at around 9 PM. Calling it a day, we retired to homely food and thus cozy beds.
Though we finalised 7AM to leave the place and get on to the Mehsana-Jaisalmer ride, only an hour later we were on road. From Mehsana to Jaisalmer, it was around 460kms, only trouble was the specific turns we were to take at Patanpur and Deesa. There we had to take help of locals, who as expected were rather excited helping us thanks to our armoured wear, gloves and of course balaclava. Mehsana to Patanapur is about ~70 km on SH41, from where we had to take left towards Deesa via NH 14. Deesa is some 24-25 kilometers from Patanpur, from where we had to leave NH 14 and catch SH 129 towards Sanchor which is some 70 kilometers from Deesa. This Deesa-Sanchor road was mostly single lane, though lonely, and with some bad patches. SH 129 joins NH 15 just before entering Sanchor and then its about 139 km of ride towards Barmer. NH 15 is one awesome road to ride on, mostly double lane, again quite lonely, just a few bad patches.  

NH15: Jaisalmer 303km
It's a Rider-ritual to get snapped with Milestones
We had crossed Barmer and were taking a power-nap when our host at Jaisalmer, Rahul, called me up and asked us to reach Jaisalmer as soon as possible so that we can see sun setting down behind the dunes. His plan was to take us to Khuri sand dunes (also Khoohdi or Kuhri), watch belly-dancing, have dinner at his drilling site (where he and his colleagues were actually being drilled), staying there overnight and have natural call with the nature next morning. So, we did it. Riding high on Barmer-Jaisalmer NH15 at 90-100kmph against the time, covering some 160 km breakfree we reached Jaisalmer’s Union circle in less than 2hours from where Khuri was another 40 kilometers. Barmer-Jaisalmer NH15 too as awesome as Sanchor-Barmer stretch, except two problems, first the insane sheep-herds and second, sand on roads. Well, without wasting much time hugging, we took the narrow straight road towards the Khuri and waiting for us was first awesome experience of rather straight roads, unlike Maharashtrian serpent roads, up and down! Midway we realised Sun won’t wait for us, and so had to take the pictures of Sunset along the road across the horizon midway only.
Sun setting at road to Khuri
Sun setting at road to Khuri-another perspective...
We spent the night at Rahul’s room after an incredibly good dinner in the deserts cooked under the jeep’s headlight. Next day we visited Longewala, Tanot and Jaisalmer Fort that I’ll soon update with ride-tale of Jaisalmer-Longewala-Tanot-Jaisalmer.

Ride back to Mumbai
Our plan was to cross Ahmedabad and stay in some highway hotel. By the time we crossed Ahmedabad, solving the maze of roads, it was already past 11PM and the one known hotel was fully occupied. Asking, inquiring for hotels we were told that only in the Nadiad town, off the highway, we could get a room. We tried a hotel typically those sleazy sort of where they shoot MMSs near Kheda and decided to ride ahead to a better place. Finally, someone told us about a Sardar ji’s Hotel Anmol, where we fortunately got a vacant room to spend the night
Hotel Anmol
at around 12 midnight. Nothing to talk about food, being a 
Punjabi hotel, room was okay sort of, but clean enough to call it a luxury in those conditions. It was around 2 AM when we were forced to get out of bed when some policewala started beating the door. Shouting at highest pitch he could, he asked for our details when I tried telling him what we do and all. God knows for what reasons he raided the room, next morning we were told that it happens sometimes especially when the other-state registered vehicle are parked.
Next day we rode over the 6-8 lanes Gujarat highway, with just a few breaks and covered over 400 kilometers before sunset to reach Mumbai and call it a ride!

Take Aways
  1. Start early in morning if you have to cross Ghodbunder road, especially in a weekday.
  2. NH8 is rather awesome, but take breaks whenever you feel sleepy or monotony.
  3. ROAD CONDITION:  Be careful on Sardar Patel Ring Road, it’s better to ride slow and ask for turns then to ride 15-20 km extra and take u-turns.
  4. ROAD CONDITION: Be careful about the turns at Patanpur and Deesa, better to ask local people or your navigator if you have one.
  5. ROAD CONDITION: Patanpur-Deesa is single lane road, with few bad stretches.
  6. ROAD CONDITION: Sanchor-Barmer-Jaisalmer NH15 is one awesome lonely highway to ride soulfully, beware of sand on road and insane sheep flock and there flock-behavior


a long road is still waiting to be ridden...

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