After a brief ‘ intro’ to inclusion of a cycle in my life cycle… one of the major turning point,as far as participating in cycling events was concerned, was the ‘Panshet Parikrama’!!!
As mentioned in my previous diaries, cycling was restricted to Weekend rides of max 30kms with the attractions being the customary chay and breakfast over gupshup with friends…. A 30km ride was really considered to be a long ride. Someone ‘tagged’ us on FB in this event called Panshet Parikrama Edition 3- A 170 km odd cycle ride , starting from Rajaram Bridge on an early Saturday morning of March 2014 and ending back there on Sunday evening. An overnight stay on a campsite in tents with 80 kms of riding daily along the Panshet Dam backwaters.
The initial reaction- ‘ Ved laglay ka?’ ‘Kahihi Kay kartat loka!!’ ‘170 kms??? on a cycle???’!!! But such is the nature of initial resistance, that slowly we began to convince ourselves to take part in this and challenge ourselves… Finally one fine evening, Dr.Shantanu Deshpande, Abhijit Mahajan and myself decided to do the ‘online registration’ for this event (first ever online registration of a FB event..that was exciting too!!!) Soon Shantanu’s cousin Dr.Deepoo Galgali and another Doc friend- Dr. Amit Deshmukh joined in.
The D day arrived or rather the ‘P’ day arrived and off we were. A bunch of 40 odd cycling enthusiasts early in the morning excited to ride had gathered at Rajaram bridge. Nikhil Shah and Arvind Bijwe had organised this event who were highly enthusiastic and now are quite good acquaintances after attending a number of their events from then till date. After initial instructions and realising what we had opted for we set off at a moderate pace….
Breakfast halt was a long way from the flag off point and I realised that its a task that I have opted for. Some ‘gyan’ about basic cycling was received that day!! right at the breakfast halt ..humari aankhen khol di gayi… But as they say in my mother tongue…panyat padla ki pahavach.. so we were even more determined to complete the parikrama.
And so we set off from Chimbalkars with renewed energy and stronger determination. The ride upto the turn off soon made me realise that …Boy! This is isn’t easy as it seems… On a bike or in a car one never realises the small inclines that you encounter on road trips…Here we realised every small little incline along the road, every down slope was a relief….
The reassembly point for everyone to gather around and start the actual parikrama along the Panshet backwaters would start from here.Basic brief was given: keep pedalling, Do stop for the occasional photo op, keep yourselves well hydrated, keep munching on energy bars , keep the backwaters always on your right and do not give up!!!
The road from here is one of the most scenic patch of the entire ride…There is almost hardly any part of the road where you do not see the Panshet backwaters(on your right, always on ur right!!!) The road quality keeps changing…Some lovely tarred patches, some full of gravel and loose soil, some declines ,lots of inclines, some roads winding along the backwater ,some straight patches where you can feel the wind on your face. Small hamlets o
along the way, locals looking at the cyclists with surprise, awe and suspicion, small children running along side, waving and calling out….. You are all alone with your able steed , maneuvering, enjoying and thinking all along the road…. This was a surreal experience.
After cycling for about 2/3 hours one reaches the Lunch point. It is an island in the backwaters, an awesome place for anyone to have a ‘picnic’ lunch. Surrounded by a thicket of green trees that offers the much needed respite from the sun and the much needed rest,
I almost crashed down on to the ground below for a well deserved rest. Some cyclists had already reached the lunch point, some were yet to reach. Soaking in the beauty of the place , our ‘group’ settled down to have lunch. I was really amazed at the planning skills of the organisers.They had a few two wheelers zipping up and down the entire road to be with the cyclists, support vehicles in case someone had a flat tire or some technical snag. After a quick siesta ,we headed to the campsite which is a further hour and half ride.
This again is a pretty scenic ride. So stops for Photos were taken. We were informed that we have to set up camp at the campsite and then the added attraction after setting up the tents was a dip in the backwaters. Hence , keeping one eye on the watch, we managed the ride , along with some snaps on the way.
Finally we could see the Campsite from afar….A lone tree in the centre with the backwaters next to it…The vehicle containing the tents had already reached and so had a few cycle regulars. They had started setting up the camp. It was instructed that each one would set up their own tents once the tent was allocated to the particular duo. Mostly T2 tents- two man tents. This too was a first kind of experience for me. Camping under the sky along a water body!!!
Soon we figured out our tent set up and we were ready to get into the water when I realised that my cycle has a flat tire. Expectantly I rushed to Arvind , hoping that someone would fix it for me till I had a dip in the water. But I was asked to fix it myself… The idea behind it being that if I was turning towards long distance cycling, I
should be able to fix a flat at least. I was very ably guided by a few veterans and thus I had my first experience of repairing a flat cycle tire too!!!!! I shall always be thankful to Arvind for that. Soon I was ready for the much needed and extremely awaited dip in the water. And man!!! was that refreshing…. The feeling of getting into a natural water body after an intense day of cycling in the hot March sun cannot be described in words. You have to experience it.( and that’s one of the reasons why I have done this Parikrama every year after that for 4 years running!!)
After getting out of the water, hot chay awaited us. We freshened up and after a cuppa of hot tea, just sat by the water front absorbing the mesmerising sunset . Moments like these makes one forget all the worries, all the fatigue, all the things that you would want to leave behind. Soon it was sun down and the sweaters
and pullovers started coming out of the bags. There was a sudden drop in the temperature and everyone soon began gathering around the campfire that was lit.
Mouth watering khichdi , with raita and papads was the order of the day. After a hearty and a satisfying meal, we headed to our tent , tired but happy, fatigued but excited, drained out but looking forward to the next days ride.
Thats for my next post on this…Till then… Ciao.