A Saddle Story… (Around Sinhagad – 100km)

We start from Swargate a little after 6 on Sunday. Sinhagad is about 19km from here. On the very few mornings that I’m up this early, I realise it is such a beautiful time to be out and riding.

I need to pump my bike tyre. The reflector’s giving a problem. Half an hour into the ride we’re hungry. We also have to wait on the way to let a few other kids with their bikes. I don’t remember ever doing a ride that was off to a smooth start. Yes, we can prepare the day before, but hey, that’s (sadly) us. Anyway, post the initial hitches the rides go well. But this one was all the hitches bundled together to make 100km of the most exciting and arduous ride I’ve done in a very long time.

Pune has some the best cycling trails around. I can’t believe all the time I’ve been here I haven’t explored more of them. I have to after this.

So, taking the left from the junction at Donje, we trek up some 7.5 km until the Khed-Shivapur T-junction. Since I’m on the saddle after the longest break, the very first stretch of the uphill ride starts getting to me. By the time we reach the T-junction I’m already thinking ‘well, 52km overall isn’t bad for a Sunday ride’. But no! We had planned this for so long. Plus, it was a downhill from here. Taking the left from the Khed-Shivapur junction, we go down about 4 km to the Kondhanpur village. The road is in a bad condition but the descent gets over soon.

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From the village, you can see a tiny pass between two hills to the south. We had to get there. A narrow rubble road that goes through the village gets you to the base of the Wangani ghat (that short cut is easy to miss so you need to ask the villagers the route to Wangani). This dirt road continues all the way up to the pass and then into Wangani on the other side. Though the ghat is only some 2 km and the ascent is gradual, the road condition makes the ride taxing. We had come about 12 km from Kondhanpur now.

Going down the ghat gets you to a T-junction at Karanjawane, at the main road to Rajgad. The left goes to NH4 from where Pune is about 40km. The right however, takes you to Pabe ghat, beyond which is our way back to Sinhagad. Taking the highway would’ve still been a good ride for a Sunday… but we take the right. The road for the next 13 km is a laidback ride. The beautiful Rajgad and Torna lie to our left. Towards the end however is a rough rubble patch. A right turn a little before Welhe from Pabe goes to the Pabe ghat. Not many people other than the locals use this route.

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The crucial patch of our ride

The sun is over our heads. We’re thoroughly exhausted. The last thing we want is another uphill trek. From what I had heard, this would be the toughest part of the ride. And it is. It is 10 km of constant upward trek with a rugged road. I just drag my bike up parts of it. I’m swearing, but we don’t want to turn around now. In spite of all of this, reaching the top of the ghat is the most exhilarating feeling ever. Wanting to turn around at every tough part of the trail, we saw it through none the less. As always, the insane ride downhill is my favourite part of the ride. And you can’t really enjoy it without having some serious struggle trudging upwards.

We have lunch on the way back. We’re spent. We can’t wait to get back home. Still, we know this is how we’d choose to spend any given Sunday.

Happy Reading, Happy Weekend! 🙂

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