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Indian Coastal Cycling Expedition – Mumbai- Murud – Lessons in Change Management

As the D day to the dream expedition was drawing closer, excitement started to grow ‘N’ folds by every passing day!

Gathering the much needed items, but keeping a bare minimalist bike packing approach in mind, my gear comprised of  Btwin Rockrider 520 cycle, a small 10 litre Saddle bag with just two sets of cycling shorts and wicking quick-dry t-shirts ( one set of which I would be wearing), two quick dry shorts and two quick dry short sleeved t-shirts to double as my evening and night wear, a wicking trek trouser and a similar shirt to go as my formal wear, a microfiber towel and a couple of pairs of socks made my clothing kit, along with the minimal toiletries and medicines it weighed 3.5 kilos. A hydration back pack contained a 2 litres hydration pack, a camera and chargers for my electronics (camera, phone and cycle lights) thrown in; a top tube bag with a spare inner tube, repair kits, tools, and drivetrain lubes and cleaning material weighed about a kilo and two chalk bags that are used for rock climbing stashed with energy bars and on-ride snack items weighed about half a kilo. So in all I was with a gear  weight of 5 kilos on the frame and a couple of kilos on my back apart from the 14 kilos of the cycle weight and 69 kilos of me in flesh and bones. That made a total of 90 Kilograms of weight to move.

My cycling buddies gathered at my home in Navi Mumbai, on 12th Feb 2021 to have a pre-ride meet, and with a motto of Burn Fat Not Fuel we set off for the ride on the early morning of 13th Feb 2021. Though four of us had planned the ride, only three could participate as our fourth partner had work constraints and had to drop off at the last moment.

We pedalled our way to the Gateway of India – our official self flag off point.

Setting off from Gateway of India was a fantastic feeling, taking selfies against the majestic Taj mahal Palace Hotel with our bicycles… It gave me goosebumps…my dream was soon to come true!

The very first day taught us lessons in change management… be flexible in your approach and be prepared to alter plans on the go. We had to take our ferry out from the Gateway of India, but the weekend crowds made it impossible for the ferry to accommodate our bicycles. We now had two options, either take the longer route that would require a ride of about 100 odd kms extra (meaning adding a day more to the ride schedule) or head off to another place along the coast away from that originally planned and deviate a little and get back in the intended direction.. We chose option 2….

Change is a normal part of our lives, but it’s uncomfortable for the vast majority of people because it makes them feel like they’ve lost control…Mary Jo Asmus

Having made our choice, we headed off to Ferry Wharf where we were lucky to find place for our bicycles on a ferry to Rewas. The early morning boat ride (though a couple of hours behind schedule) through the calm waters of Mumbai harbour – across to Rewas was a pleasant one. Some of us catching the ‘quick winks’ on the boat though, to compensate for the lack of sleep the earlier night due to excitement….

 

My cycling buddies of the trip, Aakash Sinha and Shriram Kondhawekar

As we reached Rewas, we learnt our second lesson… We had loaded the cycles on the main deck of the ferry while the Rewas jetty was in line with the Top Deck of the ferry. Our cycles would not pass through the access hatch on the boat to be taken to the top deck. That is  when the crew of the ferry pitched in to help us pass our cycles over the side onto the jetty. The crew not knowing our gear and the way it was attached to the cycles, happened to damage the securing pad of my saddle bag, making it to sag on my rear wheel and rubbing against the wheel…lesson learnt – ‘never trust your gear to people who don’t know how to handle it’. We made a tweak in the securing of the saddle bag and made it fast on the top tube. My saddle bag now became my top tube bag (with some ingenuity in securing it to the top tube) . Not a big problem…it continued that way throughout the entire journey till Goa!

A stop over at the Rameshwar Temple at an ancient trading centre of Chaul was a very welcome break and sneak peak into history. Chaul holds a particularly important place in Hindu tradition; it is said that around 2000 odd years ago, there were some 300 temples at Chaul,  all dedicated to Lord Krishna, and was then called Champawati or Revatikshetra. Reference of Chemula (present day Chaul) appears in the Kanheri Caves inscription of about the same period (1st Century AD). It had extensive trade and commercial links with the West as far as Rome.  We then continued our journey through another historic town of Revdanada admiring the Portuguese sea forts of Revdanda and Korlai ( though we did not stop here as we had already explored these two forts some time earlier).

 

The Interiors of Rameshwar temple at Chaul

The ride from Rewas to Murud was a pleasant one, mostly flat with a few climbs thrown in near Fansad wild life sanctuary and little after that before Murud. The day being a Saturday was choco-block with tourists near Kashid Beach and the ride felt like passing through busy peak hour city traffic. We did not stop at Kashid for obvious reasons. Weekends are best avoided if you want to have some peace and tranquillity at Kashid beach.

We reached a place called Mazgaon a little before Murud and decided to call off the day. With so many tourists around we decided to find a first available  accommodation and rest ourselves for the day. Having covered 38 Kms from Navi Mumbai to Gateway and to ferry-wharf and then 68 Kms from Rewas to Mazgaon, we had logged 106 Kms for our first day, which deserved a nice cold shower and a hearty meal. We settled for a small little way side motel ‘Guru Mauli’ and rested our feet and sore bums for the day!

The Owner of the motel happened to be a teacher and an established artist. Chatting with him over the rest of the evening and through the dinner gave us some nice insights to the town of Murud and how it was devastated  during the cyclone ‘Nisarga’ in June 2020 and how everything has sprung back on it feet just a few months later…..

Seven days on the road on my first ever Cycling Expedition; every day taught me some lessons of life afresh, which I shall share in this series of articles along with images that were shot during the ride…

 

Keep a look out for the next learning…..

Milind

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