Royal Enfield invited us on a trip that comprised beaches, winding roads, beautiful scenery, lip-smacking food, and a spot of off-roading. An offer we could not refuse
Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Royal Enfield
‘Navi Mumbai to Goa in four days? ’ I asked, unable to believe what I had just heard. What were we possibly going to do covering a distance that most riders dismiss within a day? That is where the charm of the Coastal Trail lay. It was not a run to the finish or an overly technical trail hunt, but a motorcycle holiday for riders of all kinds; with special emphasis on “holiday”. We savoured varied cuisine at leisure and guided our motorcycles along tranquil coastal routes that were a stark contrast to the sea that churned restlessly on our right.
Day One: Navi Mumbai to Shrivardhan
Sea in Sight
Nearly 30 motorcycles thumped out of Navi Mumbai just before the day’s chaos set in. We briefly found ourselves on the highway before pointing our bikes westwards; away from the straight, wide highways and its innumerable motorists and towards the sea. Almost 100 km into the ride, we got our first eyeful of the sea on our right-hand side and that is when the Coastal Trail really took off. We enjoyed smooth and winding roads with a commanding view all the way to our lunch stop. While the rest of the gang awaited their food, I took off with a friend to ride on the beach. We enjoyed a few minutes of sliding around near the waves and ultimately wedged our Himalayans deep in the sand. We had to use all of the motorcycle’s low-end grunt to climb out of the sand and reach solid ground. Post our first Konkan meal of the trip, we carried on along the captivating coastal roads all the way to Shrivardhan.
Day Two: Shrivardhan to Ganpatipule
Three Ferries and Some Tarmac
We had to wake up early because there were water crossings en route and not ones that the Himalayan could ford. Any delay would have wrecked our plans because if we missed the first ferry, it would have been a long wait for the next one. The entire convoy rolled through the quiet streets of town towards the ferry point and got on board. We had a total of three ferry rides that day.
The day’s highlight was an off-road section that we encountered on the way. What was once hard-packed red clay had been reduced to fine dust thanks to heavy traffic. Traction on that trail was a luxury and the CEATs on the Himalayan clawed for grip as I slid around corners; gingerly at first and then as fast as I dared. The Himalayan’s weight distribution, rider triangle, and suspension set-up inspired enough confidence in me to attempt those manoeuvres. When we regrouped, all the riders were doused in red dust and full of stories of how they almost lost control at times. However, everyone was unanimous about one thing: ‘That was fun and we should do it again’.
Day Three: Ganpatipule to Kunkeshwar
Eastern Gibraltar and Two Meals at the Beach
Undoubtedly, the most picturesque route of the whole ride, for me at least. When I was not taking full advantage of the well-paved switchbacks, I could be found shooting pictures by the side of the road. With the sea well within our view all day, by lunchtime, I was sure of one thing. I had seen the sea in at least three different shades of blue throughout the day and had also discovered similar variety in beaches as well. We also got a chance to explore the Vijaydurg fort, a 12th-century edifice that was restructured by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. At one point in time, it used to be surrounded by the sea on all the four sides and played a pivotal role in the naval supremacy of the Marathas. It is also one of the two forts where Chhatrapati Shivaji personally hoisted the saffron flag.
The Royal Enfield crew surprised us with two brilliant meals. Lunch was spread out and served on the beach under a canopy of trees. They also organized a lip-smacking dinner on the beach with a bonfire and motorcycle stories for company.
Day Four: Kunkeshwar to Agonda
Garage Café and the Finalé
The last leg of the trip (for me, that is) was also my last chance to savour roads without much traffic. By lunchtime, we were at the Royal Enfield Garage Café with strict instructions to order anything off the menu except bevvy. The quick eaters polished off lunch and hit the road again before traffic set in. Long after we left the crowded part of Goa, we chanced upon a wonderful mountain road. It had everything a perfect road should have: smooth tarmac, ample width, and a great view. Moreover, the Himalayan proved itself a fun motorcycle even on tarmac.
After the 750-km ride spanning four days, the group earned themselves a rest day in Agonda before riding on to Kanyakumari. Over the past days, we had traversed the length of the Maharashtra coast, ridden on new roads and trails, enjoyed some delicious Konkan cuisine, and met like-minded people who shared an enthusiasm for exploring the country on two wheels.
Of course, we did have a few mishaps and technical issues with the motorcycles but all of them were handled well by the Royal Enfield crew. Raja R and S Vincent Raj in the Gunwagon were saviours to those who were bogged down by a puncture or technical difficulty. Arjay Pramanik and Pankaj Bishnoi kept the group together by keeping pace and looking out for everyone.
Why should you think of setting out on something like this? Simply because it is one of the easiest ways to explore our beautiful country without being overwhelmed by logistics, safety concerns, and the like. There was a good mix of both experienced and novice riders and neither rode outside their comfort zone. In fact, the experienced riders could be seen helping the novices to become safer and quicker motorcyclists.
During this Coastal Trail, I was part of a group of enthusiasts who watched out for one another while exploiting the “freedom potential” that their motorcycle had to offer. That’s what pure motorcycling is all about, isn’t it? By the end of the trip, it was with a heavy heart that I had to bid adieu to my fully kitted-out Himalayan Sleet, fellow riders, and, of course, the sea.