Goa has always been my annual retreat for several years now. But this quick visit has been the most memorable and cherished one yet. Thanks to two petrolheads, we got the opportunity to see a couple of superbikes live in action – the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and the Harley Davidson Street 750!
It all began when a friend of mine – Arpan, invited me to ride down to Goa for a 4 day long Dussera weekend. Reluctantly I turned him down as I was sceptical of doing a 600 odd kilometre journey on my 150cc sportsbike. Coincidentally, another friend of mine invited me to join him for a ride to Goa on the same weekend. In fact the mean machines they brought along acted as the principal catalyst in persuading me for the ride.
I could barely catch a wink the night before, due to the sheer excitement of the trip. As I didn’t have a saddlebag, I had to make do with my gym duffle bag and strap it down with a bungee cord (Word of advice : always use 2 bungee cords so that the luggage remains stable and doesn’t move about while riding over un-even roads).
After saddling up, I met Ravi at Kalina at 4:30 AM, who was riding the massive Ninja 650. Even at such wee hours, the Ninja caught the fancy of a few local boys, who immediately started racing alongside. We met up with the third musketeer – Arun at Nerul, loaded up the Harley and set out for Goa. Soon the image of cool blue water, sandy beaches, cheap alcohol and all the goodies of Goa shattered to pieces once we hit the rough patches of Pen and Vadhkal.
Even on such roads, the Harley and the Ninja were practically gliding away and soon I was left behind. Unfortunately, the Yamaha’s aggressive seating position, combined with the stiff suspension didn’t make things easier. All thanks to the never ending four laning of the National Highway 17!
Both the Ninja and the Harley are bikes that are not to be trifled with on the highway and both have a mean on-road presence.
Once we reached the ‘finger licking good’ tarmacs of the Kashedi ghat, the real fun began. Cornering, knee scraping (well…not me), the bikes came into it’s own. Fortunately for us the traffic was less, although the climate was a bit hot. Bike riding has never been this much fun. After loading the Go-Pro, Arun and Ravi went bezerk on the throttle…well nothing comes between a professional rider and a superbike!
Around 10 am, we stopped for some breakfast and refreshments at a riverside establishment in Mahad.
Since my 150cc bike had an advantage over the others in terms of mileage, the others insisted that I go ahead, while they’d refill the monsters and rejoin. FYI the superbikes gave a mileage of 22 KM/ltr approx!
Clicking a few pics on the highway, enjoying the smooth highway, I was indeed having a blast by myself.
After a riding for a bit, I found myself a nice shade and decided to cool down. Well Scarlet needed it! Twenty minutes went by, still no sign of the others. Meanwhile, I was having a chat with a few guys who were driving to Goa. After giving them directions, I set off. I stopped at Sangameshwar for a cup of tea and called up Ravi. At this point, we had already done half the way.
Once regrouped, we started riding again. Unfortunately we had to slow down immediately due to a terrible thunderstorm couple of hundred kilometres before Sawantwadi, and had to seek shelter under an abandoned bus stop.
Once the rains subsided, we started the emergency lights on the Ninja, and asked Arun to lead the pack. Due to poor visibility, we had no choice but to ride rest of the distance at speeds of 40 – 50 km/hr. Totally drenched and shivering, we entered Goa and stopped at the first Dhaba we came across. After treating ourselves to some crappy but hot coffee, we started riding again and finally reached our hotel – Silmasco House at Calangute at around 11 in the night. At this point what we needed was a nice hot shower. In all, it took us approx 18 hours to reach Goa, instead of 12. Phew!
While we freshened up, Arpan and his Royal Enfield group, who had ridden to Goa all the way from Bengaluru, came back from dinner and then it was practically a biker’s meet-up. Around 12ish, we decided to go for a bite and immerse ourselves in some delicious Goan pork sausages, ravas fry, butter garlic prawn and some kalamari….sorry Ravi 😛
Next morning, while Arpan’s group decided to hit south Goa, we choose to go for a more scenic route of Morjim-Arambol. At this point I decided to try out the Harley, and it was a sheer bliss. Being a short heighted person, the bike’s seat height and the riding posture was just perfect for me. The engine seemed very responsive and smooth. In spite of being a heavy cruiser, it was every bit nimble as my 150cc bike. I’ll surely be considering this Indian bred Harley as my next upgrade.
After doing a bit of shopping, we hit a restaurant and spent the last night in Goa over a few drinks and some good banter. All expected, next morning all of us snoozed through the alarms.
Finally by 8 AM, we bid adieu to the hotel owner and hit the highway. And soon tragedy struck us again. One of the bungee cables on the Harley snapped and Arun’s bag bounced off the bike. We somehow managed to put Arun’s stuff in the Ninja’s saddle bags, as the bag was completely charred while being hung upon the exhaust.
By the time we reached Vadhkal, it was already dark and the four laning non-sense was an absolute nightmare due to the dust. Somehow we managed to reach home at around 11:30 PM and call it a night.
Considering the situations we’ve been through, the trip was quite an adventurous one. By far, this has been the longest trip I’ve done on my bike – 1200 kilometres approx. With every kilometre I fell in love with my bike again. Scarlet was an absolute dream on the highway. Now I look forward to more such trips, hopefully to some new destination.