It is another Sunday and its that day and time. The day and time to let loose, and get onto the saddle, and head out of the confines of the City of Bombay, on yet another long ride. As far as distances go this is not really a long ride, but given that it has been a while since I have done a proper long distance, we will let it pass off as a long ride.
I had been itching to go, and the perfect excuse presented itself. A friend of a friend had this place, about 60 odd km outside the city (so he said), and he was looking to develop a dirt track for mountain biking (bicycling). It isn’t for any silly reason that people kinda believe that Pro9 and its crew are authorities on cycling. So that as it is, our buddy, Anish (The Friend), suggested to his friend (friend of friend), that we get together and talk about this idea (of setting up a mountain biking trail/track at Camp Evergreen.
This is the same Anish who cold brews a mean coffee under the name and style of The Tribal Brewing Company. The Coach sampled once, and labled it “Liquid Crack”. I ‘fess up and say that I had a few large swigs of the liquid crack pre-ride.
So we meet the owner of this Camp Evergreen and I be like, I need to go recce, and I’m going Sunday. So that was the perfect excuse. Position stated, no backing out.
Nothing like great company on a ride out of town, so I be like, lets get our friend The Coach (not mine) to several top executives across the globe, and our friend the Pro9 Chief, The Faisal, to come with. Damp squib that, both bailed due to unavoidable reasons, that too last minute. So I’m now at Marine Drive, the rendezvous point with The Coach, and shes called in sick, and so has The Chief.
Like that’s going to spoil it for me? I head out. So I figure, I’m already in town, and the quickest way out of the City will be to take the Eastern Freeway. I’m on the said Freeway, only to be turned back a short ride into the length. See, the said Freeway is not open to two wheelers (deemed dangerous to two wheelers), but hey, I do it all the time, except that this time I get flagged off the Freeway.
Reroute quickly, and now I’m on the Bombay Port Trust Road (read backroad) that will lead me to Chembur, then on to Vashi, to Mhape, Shil Phata, MIDC Road, Ambarnath, Badlapur, Camp Evergreen. Given that I’m now heading from town, I’ve added about 10/15 km to the original distance of 60 odd km. No sweat.
I make really good progress, despite the bad road conditions, thanks to the custom built Cyclocross (The Black Shadow), designed ground up (based on my aggressive riding style) under the care and supervision of the Pro9 Chief, Faisal Thakur. Despite a couple of oddities, she glides, nay purrs over the rough terrain I’m traversing and am about to traverse. One of the major oddities, being that she has an Atomlab rim on the front, and another lesser brand on the rear. The tyres are both 23 inches, but since the Atomlab rim is a mountain bike rim, the tyre spreads and is more like a 25. So thicker in front and substantially thinner at the back. Takes a bit to control her as you corner at speed, but I’m used to it by now. Why the varying rims? Well, something to do with the vendor “loosing” one of the rims, and not having the wherewithal to order another one, to complete the pair. And the rims aren’t exactly cheap. Perhaps I should just order the second rim. You think?
I even find time to stop off and take some lovely pics of the sun rising over the hills and the transmission towers.
Despite leaving at 6.45 am, I’m at the major checkpoint, Ambernath by 8.30 am, not bad time given the terrain I’ve traversed. An hour and 45 mins, cool.
My iPhone is dishing out a beautiful, racy mix of Trance from Aarmin Van Burren, and turn by turn directions, but at Ambernath, all that is coming our of the headphones is Trance, minus turn by turn navigation. Lost the GPS signal and didn’t download the offline maps. Bad move Sumir.
I call the caretaker of Camp Evergreen, but he’s not exactly good with directions, so I use my backup Moto Z Play to do the navigation. Switch the phone on so, and punch in the coordinates. Now keep this particular moment in mind for later reference.
I supposedly find the turn off from the MIDC Pipeline Road, duly prompted by the navigator, and I am guessing I’m no more than about 20 odd km away from Camp Evergreen. No such luck. What I discovered much later, is that I had mistakenly punched in the city office coordinates of Camp Evergreen, and the damn GPS kept trying to get me to go back. Took me a while to figure this out, and punch in the right coordinates, and get to even keel again, but this did add a good distance to the proceedings, and when it was getting pretty hot.
I need to cool off and I find a seemingly abandoned farm, and use its sheltered driveway for the said purpose of cooling off and some photo ops.
Finally I’m on the home stretch, and can see the Barvi Dam ahead of me.
Due to the detours and really bad roads, I’ve had to ride a slow pace, and to top that off, I’m out of water, so stop I must, and stop I do at the gates to the dam complex.
A friendly watchman, lets me in and points me to a tap that spews the sweetest water I’ve ever drunk, fresh from the lake. And its cold water, so fill my Camelbak backpack, the sippers and I’m off again en route to Camp Evergreen, which is barely a few km away.
The road (actually path) leading to Camp Evergreen, is really a dirt road, and I’m thankful to the Cyclocross, but I’m wishing I’m on my rugged and tough dual suspension Iron Horse – Warrior Pro, a 19 kg metal bike, with really thick tyres.
Camp Evergreen is a fantastic campsite, with 13 huts, a mess, a 150 ft swimming pool, with a river running around the periphery of the site, a climbing wall.
Short stop, survey the establishment, grab a quick bite, and its time to head back to the metrop. I don’t ride back, its gotten way too hot, and so I bung the bike into a transport, and head back to home, back to Bandra.
Another Sunday, another “long” ride, another Sunday well spent, doing what I love, cycling. Here are the stats.
So until we meet again, adios.