Join Independence Day motorcycle rides with these trails
Whether solo or with a gang, join the tradition of I-Day motorcycle rides with these trails
Every rider will tell you that one of the best meeting points around town is Fountain Hotel in Ghodbunder. Fountain Hotel marks the chowk where you can choose one of the three exits — Western Express Highway, Vasai Creek Bridge or Ghodbunder Road. This is where, a couple of years ago, Vinayak Pawar, a consultant with a human rights organisation, met with his fellow riders on Independence Day.
Pawar, a Grant Road resident, is part of a riders' group called Royal Indian Devotes. "I do the freedom ride because it's a chance to get together with the group and celebrate an occasion of national importance together," says Pawar, 32.
The group decided to meet at 8 am at Fountain Hotel and head to the flag hoisting ceremony by the promenade at Bandra Reclamation. "However, we reached a little later than expected as it started to pour. That is something to watch out for, as the rains can delay you," he says. Even if they were late, the riders paid their respects to the Indian tricolour, and then finished the ride at Belapur. "We toured till Bandra as not all riders could join us from the start at Ghodbunder," says Pawar.
You can give your freedom ride a theme, suggests Pawar. On this particular trip, the bikers supported girl child rights, an idea initiated by Pawar. Pawar gave his biker friends T-shirts with the campaign slogan, Beti Zindabad. "We thought it would be a good way to promote the campaign. It is also our way of saying that riding bikes is not just about being macho," he says.
Colaba-Daman and Diu
If you wish to do a solo Independence Day ride, or just with a couple of friends, then take cue from sound engineer Dylan D'Silva, 31. In 2014, D'Silva took Emma (that's the name he has given his Royal Enfield) from his residence in Colaba all the way up to the coastal town of Daman. "Ideally, you should be doing this overnight, as you will need to be on your bike for four hours at a stretch. But, if you don't mind the intensity of the trip, then it's ideal," he says.
The route is via the Eastern Express Highway and then NH 48. There's lots to do on the route, especially as you hit closer to Daman. "There is a lot of history to Daman, such as old forts and churches. The historic sites made me feel that this was a good way to celebrate Independence Day," says D'Silva. The best part about the route, he says, is that it is straightforward, and doesn't require the biker to manoeuvre a lot. This way, you won't feel the need to stop and take a break too often. Once you reach the town, however, you will tempted to make many pit stops, such as the Moti Daman Fort.
Vashi-resident Atul Vig is a strategist for real estate and a seasoned biker. The 32-year-old runs a bikers' club called Mumbai Wanderers and regularly does freedom rides with hundreds of bikers. "The idea is that we let go of our individual egos and come together as people. It is a feeling of oneness on Independence Day," says Vig.
"Many bikers may be tempted to head to Colaba and Nariman Point, but I strongly advise against it," he says, explaining, "South Mumbai is sensitive on Independence Day, thanks to more VIP movement in the area, and policing is strict. Besides, these roads are narrow in South Mumbai." Instead, Vig says you can opt for the suburbs or Navi Mumbai.
On this Independence Day trip through the Western Express Highway, there were about 1,200 of them. Keep it simple, says Vig. Start early in the morning, avoid the rush hours — even if it's on a holiday — and potential mishaps. The trail can be covered in about a couple of hours.
"The other option is to go to Airoli, and ride up to Panvel. You can also terminate the trip at Palm Beach Road, where there is lush greenery on either side. Basically, you can't go all the way up to Lonavla with a mob like this, so Palm Beach is a good choice," he says.
Dr Aparna Bandodkar, dental surgeon and motorcycle rider, says that she usually prefers to plan long trips around Independence Day. Short freedom rides that Bandodkar prefers, however, are the ones that combine riding with trekking. "I like exploring our country. So, I feel the best thing to do on Independence Day is to head to the famous forts around Mumbai," says the 33-year old.
Doing so is not easy though, she says, as trekking may not be a passion shared by other bikers. But, should your motorcycle bunch wish to do this, she says, you can ride down to Pateshwar, in Satara district. "It takes about four hours to get there, but it is an easy summit to the rock-cut caves and the temple," she says.
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