What is an Epic Ride?
Since this is my first, “Epic Ride of the Week” post, before we get to this week’s ride – well, what is an epic ride? The more obvious answers are rides that are really long, or rides that are have a serious amount of elevation. Perhaps a route that has challenging terrain, or simply breathtaking views. But then, “really long”, and “high elevation” mean different things to different people. Instead, maybe something amazing happened, you met someone, helped or were helped by someone. Maybe a mechanical or physical issue made it really challenging for you. Had an animal encounter (or a near miss), or rescued an animal in distress?
One thing’s for sure, plenty of epic stuff happens when you’re out on a bicycle, and if you think you had an epic ride, a ride you’ll be telling your friends about, forever, write in to get it featured here. The ride must be in India, but it doesn’t have to be a recent ride.
We’re opening our epic rides, with a Panshet Parikrama ride by Priyanka Pawar, in Pune … man, that’s a lot of P’s!
Panshet is a dam that’s about 40 km from the center of Pune. By itself, Panshet is a great cycling destination, and you can reach the dam by riding along the northern or the southern sides of the Khadakwasla reservoir, the latter being the shorter, more direct, and most popular route. If you’re looking for something more cozy and scenic though, northern, backwaters route would be my pick.
But this isn’t about getting to Panshet, it’s what you can do once you get there! Not many people are aware of the fact that you can ride around the Panshet lake, giving you an opportunity for some serious adventure not too far away from home.
You can ride either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the lake, and Priyanka did the latter. However, each side starts with a challenging climb, the ACW route has a climb to the Panshet Boating Club, while the CW route has a couple of climbs, with the summit being close to, “Hotel Shivar” – the only landmark I could find on the map.
The circuit around the lake is just under 70 km in length, and if you take a look at the elevation graph, you’ll see there are a number of smaller climbs en route. As far as roads are concerned, you’ll find a mixture of good, bad and crap roads, and even sections with no roads at all. Leave your road bike at home, and bring an MTB, or a gravel bike. Here are some tips from Priyanka for those embarking on this ride:
- You won’t find any hotels / restaurants along most of this route, so ensure you carry enough food and water. You can get some water from the dam, if you’re OK with that sort of thing.
- This is a very lonely route, don’t go alone.
- Villagers speak only Marathi, but they will do their best to help you.
- You could encounter wild animals – on her ride, she encountered monkeys, warthogs and a snake! I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me there’s a leopard about.
- Take a first aid kit, a spare tube, puncture repair kit, etc.
- The roads are pathetic, if you’re not careful you could have a nasty tumble.
I don’t need to say this, but I will anyway – the views and your lush surroundings will make this an experience you won’t soon forget. You’re going to be riding by a lake, breathing in fresh, clean air, in the midst of nature, no motorized traffic … what more could you ask for?
Priyanka’s ride took 11 hours from start to finish, with about 10 hours of ride time. This includes the time taken to ride to Panshet from the city as well, so clearly, you can do this in a day’s worth of riding. However, I would not recommend this route for people who are just getting started with long distance cycling.
Supported Ride Options
If you prefer a supported ride, RAW Adventure solutions does this annually, typically over a couple of days, camping for the night somewhere along the lake. RAW’s expedition comes highly recommended by my friend, Shobhan, so use this option for a more relaxed experience, especially if you’re new to adventure cycling. Here are some pictures his ride, which BTW, was in the CW direction.
Here are some videos of RAW’s ride, as well as some I’ve made in this region, that you may find useful, do give them a watch.
About the Rider
Priyanka Pawar has been into adventure cycling and trekking for over 10 years. She’s currently working as a physical instructor at a school in Pune, and is training for the upcoming Deccan Cliffhanger 2019 race as a solo rider. She undertook this particular ride as part of her training for the NEF Enduro 3 2019 race, in which her team won the 100 Mix category.
If you’d like to be updated when the next, “epic ride” article is released, please subscribe to this site, and do share this article with your friends. If you’re looking for more cycling routes in India, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, The Indian Cyclist. If you just want to catch up with other riders across India, consider joining the Cyclop discord community. Finally, if you’ve got an epic ride you’d like to share with everyone, drop me an email!