What’s the longest you’ve been out on a single day ride? How do you feel about nineteen hours? Our rider this week, Abin Jose, left home just after 4 in the morning and got back at past 11 at night, on this epic 240 km ride from Mumbai, to Siddhagad fort in interior Maharashtra. Here’s how Abin’s long day in the saddle panned out, in the words of the man himself.
Picking Siddhagad as a Destination
As we had good rain during August, and many holidays in the middle this month, I had planned for a long ride, but not a tough one like this. On August 10th, did a 118KM ride, August 11th did a 116KM ride, August 15th did a 151 km ride, of which only the first one was a city ride, other two included some off tarmac routes. As in 8 days (including this date) already three long rides were done, I was skeptical about doing another long ride. Anticipating further rains, I thought of doing another one, and started browsing through my, “want-to-go” places marked in Google maps … and I came across this place called Siddhagad. What made me more interested, is its proximity to Bhimashankar, and also, this place is a part of Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary. Finally, zeroed in on targeting this location for 17th, and went to sleep the night before, after a tiring day at office.
4:20 AM – Starting Off
I woke up around 3.30 am in the morning. Re-checked tyre pressure, and other things to carry, like spare tube, hand pump, tool kit, nutrition, head light and tail light. Got ready to go, and prepared a small pack of noodles and had it as a very early breakfast,and started off at 4.20 am. Headed to Eastern Express Highway and took Airoli bridge to reach Kopar Khairane, Mahape, headed straight through Shilphata towards Ambernath direction.
7:40 AM – Daval Pada
Around 7.40 am reached Daval Pada – the road to Malang Gad starts from here. Stopped for breakfast at a Tamil restaurant. Almost covered 50 km by this time. After the breakfast and tea proceeded further towards Ambernath, Badlapur direction on Murbad road. After reaching a place called Sonavale taken a deviation from Murbad road towards Mhasa. Though initially the road was bit roller coaster type around Ambernath, Badlapur area, now the roads became somewhat flat/ gradual incline. It started to rain and I was riding through forests areas. The roads were pretty good and smooth.
Though a sunny and pleasant morning, it was raining in between too. Once I climbed further up, reached some plain lands which had a lot of grass lands where cattle was grazing, wild balsam blooms on both sides of the road … It was an overcast climate this time.
10:30 AM – Mhasa
Once this plain land is over, there is slight downhill and the road leads to Karjat Murbad road. From here proceeded further towards Murbad and reached Mhasa. This entire stretch was downhill only. This is the last prominent place towards Siddhagad. Time was around 10.30 and I have covered around 92 km. On riding further from Mhasa, immediately the sight of the targeted fort was visible. This might have been visible earlier also, but it was covered in mist. Slowly the fort was coming out of the cloud cover. Stopped for some photo session and clicked the below one from that point.
11:00 AM – Entry to Siddhagad
Proceeded further, and inclines started again gradually. Then reached the place where a further diversion had to be taken for Jambhurde road and village. This is the entry point for Siddhagad. One can find a big arch there at this point. The road is getting more inclined, and immediately after the village, a check post was visible and was closed. There were some guards there, initially they refused to permit me inside and were stating reasons like road is totally damaged, it is raining heavily, etc. However, I insisted for a permission and convinced them to let me in. By this time already covered 100 Km, time was 11 am and immediately after the check point, it started to rain heavily and the inclines were becoming steeper, with thick forest at both sides. The muddy road is covered with pieces of basalt rocks and those rocks were very sharp. In between these basalt pieces there were many quartz stone crystals too.
11:20 AM – The Waterfalls
It was nearly 5 km of sharp incline, and the climb started to ease and all of a sudden it was plain land with thick forests. Proceeding further, a village is visible. Not many houses, but somewhat big houses with tiled roofs. There were paddy fields in this area too. After the village the road further proceeds to right and one side it is the big mountain with many small water falls. The road was very rough, bumpy and with sharp stones. Finally the end point of this road is arrived in about 8 km. The road after the first 5 km did not have much of an incline. Took a dip in the water fall and moved around to take some pictures.
12:20 PM – The Descent
All of a sudden it started raining very heavily and I started my descent around 12.20 pm. With half a km down from this point there is another plain land area. We can see the good view of the fort area and I met a person from the village who was grazing a herd of cows there. The place was very beautiful and I had spent nearly an hour there – this turned out to be very costly decision later on. After the plain terrain, it was the descent through the steep rocky downhill and reached back at the check post below. The guards asked me to come to them and they have asked me to pay some money to them. Paid some money to them, and proceeded to Mhasa.
2:00 PM – Paddy Fields to Mhasa
Around 2 pm, came out of this road and it was paddy fields again. Took some more photos there with the back drop of the place I went. Reached back to Mahsa, and had food from Guruprasad which appeared to be the best around that area. A veg thali meal cost only Rs. 120 here. The premises were very neat and clean.
Almost 120 Km have covered by this time, and time was around 2.45 pm. As the morning route was with inclines, I thought of taking the Karjat road, and coming back to Mumbai. Proceeded on Murbad Karjat road, and immediately arrived at another incline, which was tough, as it was immediately after lunch. However, after this incline, immediately a plain land came from where at one side Matheran could be seen, and the other side Bhimashankar area could be seen. After this area, straight away headed to Karjat and it reached a place called Pohi. There were two directions shown for Karjat, one through Neral, and other Sugave-Kadav. I have asked a two wheeler person waiting there at that junction about the road conditions, and then decided to take Sugave-Kadav road. The road was not great, there were work going on with inclines and some down hill.
5:20 PM – Karjat
Finally reached Karjat around 5.20 pm, and I rushed towards Chowk. Took some beautiful photos of Matheran and nearby hills and the ND’s Film World.
6:15 PM – Chowk
Around 6.15 pm, I reached Chowk, and it was such a relief that, further only known roads are there. Took the JNPT road from Kolkhe, and headed towards Wahal. Lost the way and proceeded in wrong direction towards JNPT. Realized the mistake within a km and turned back and reached Belapur and then Sea Woods.
9:00 PM – The Home Stretch
Had dinner from a Kerala restaurant around 8.30, and around 9.00 pm, started back to Juhu, and by 11.20 pm reached back at home.
With the type of rider that Abin is, we’ll definitely be seeing more of his rides in this series, but for those impatient, here’s his selection of his most epic. Do check the individual activities for photos and route details.
|Ride||Distance (km)||Elevation (m)|
|Juhu – Mahabaleshwar||508||5500|
|Juhu – Khandala – Lonavala – Aamby Valley – Tamhini – Mulshi – Paud – Kamshet||363||3500|
|Juhu – Kasara Ghat – Igatpuri – Vaitrana Dam – Khodala – Wada – Ambadi – Bhiwandi – Thane||316||4400|
|Juhu- Malshej Ghat – Khubi Patha||304||4000|
|Juhu – Dahanu||289||2400|
|Juhu – Murud||287||3500|
|Juhu – Lohagad – Lonavala – Khandala||225||2000|
|Juhu – Manor||222||2100|
|Juhu – Varai – Manor – Vajreshwari||216||2000|
|Juhu – Murud – Kashid – Revdanda – Alibag – Revas||208||2400|
|Juhu – Matheran||192||2100|
About the Rider
An MTB rider, who loves to ride out of the city on weekend and holidays. Being a banker by profession, and in the busy schedule of Mumbai, I am not in a position to find time for riding during working days. So all holidays and weekends, where I am not going to my native, I have dedicated all my time towards cycling. Basically from Kerala, and currently posted at Mumbai. Born and bought up at a place very near to Munnar in Kerala, I am very much passionate about rain in Western Ghats, the paddy fields, and other agricultural related activities. Monsoon and winter time is my most preferred time for rides. Rather than riding through the city, I would prefer to ride through the country side, villages and hilly areas, as it makes me happier and provides relief from stress. Moreover, I believe that the spirit of our great nation, India is more vibrant at her villages.
Do follow Abin on Instagram, Facebook, or Strava.
If you liked this episode, check out past Epic Rides, and do share this article with your friends; subscribe to be notified when the next article is released. 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, and find group rides in your vicinity, do join the growing Cyclop discord community. Finally, if you’ve got an epic ride you’d like to share with everyone, drop me an email!