Great Riding Through Malshej Ghat.

Has the Motorbike Ride come to an end ?

The Saga Continues, By Will.

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The Blue Arrow, our current location. 40kms from Mumbai’s CBD, India.

20/11/16, Sunday, Sangamner to Navi Mumbai, 215kms.
What a noisey place ! It’s 5.30am and I’m woken by LOUD Speakers broadcasting the “Call to Pray” from a nearby Muslim Mosque. All night long there seemed to be loud noises, Karaoke singing, fireworks going off, traffic. Come 6am the local Bus Station across the road cranked up its P.A. System to announce the various Bus Time Tables in Hindi.

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7am, Out the front of our cheap Hotel in Sangamner, noisey place. Someone’s always curious about Straya Animals.

Our mattress for the night was comparable to a soft slab of concrete & a couple of disease ridden mosquitoes had somehow snuck in & were buzzing around our heads. I did my best to curl up in my sleeping bag liner & get some shut eye, but by 6am we both gave up & decided to get moving, we had a big day ahead of us.

Skipping breakfast we were loaded up, on the bikes, Jenny’s RE Bullet, started up first kick & we negotiated our way out of the now relatively quiet streets of Sangamner just after 7am. It was probably our coolest morning so far, at a guess I’d say 15C & we past quite a few small bikes, Tuk Tuk Trucks & Cars carrying bundles of fleece blankets ???

About 8.30am we stopped in a random Town to get some fried curry ball things for breakfast, have Chai & pick up some extra water & biscuits.

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Chai & Breaky Stop.

The ride to the Malshej Ghat was quite pleasant with only a few near misses due to oncoming traffic (always cars or Jeeps) thinking it would be a good idea to pass a slower vehicle when really it wasn’t. The night before I swapped the GoPro into it’s original housing, so now without the Sena Audio Pack I’m hoping for some action footage, though the sound quality will be poor (just dub over it with music & captions). I’ve come to the conclusion that I need both gadgets to have a Firmware update, which won’t happen until we get home in 2 and a half weeks.

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C’mon Jenny, let’s head for the hills !

Once into the Malshej Ghat the ride was stunning, the only downside being the smoke haze sitting in the breeze less sky making for average photos of what is really a very photogenic area. On reasonably good winding roads, with great views while passing large groups of pilgrims we had a really excellent ride through the Ghat.

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Pilgrims walking through Mulshej Ghat

Unreal riding through the Malshej Ghat, have to be a bit careful, you never know what’s around the next corner !

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Jenny, out in front putting in a hard days riding, 215kms, 6hrs.

You have got to love it ! Riding twisty roads, great scenery, great weather & doing it all with your best friend !

Just on the other side we stopped for fuel, often it’s difficult to communicate with the Pump Attendant (no self service here, friends) that we wish to fill up both bikes no matter what hand gestures we use & pay using only one transaction. The Pump Attendant once he comprehends we want a full tank then proceeds to only do one bike & then wants to reset the pump & do the next bike (no Postec System feeding back to a central computer for these guys, all manual). We eventually get the result we are after but it’s never simple. Added to the fact that most other customers only put in 100IR ($2aud) & we are always up around the 1200IR to 1600IR ($24 to $32 AUD) amount. At least because of the currency crisis they are usually willing to let us pay with our credit card.

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Fuel up, have a quick bite to eat, swig some water then kick start the Mongrel Bullet.

Before departing the Fuel Service Station, we eat some bananas & biscuits, have a drink of water. It’s now “Kick Starting” time (with a few spectators). On the 5th attempt I feel something give in my right knee, it felt like a ligament tweak but now the front of my knee just below the kneecap is sore….WTF !
I guess something had to give, I’ve been Kick Starting Jenny’s Bullet for 10 days now & do a quick equation in my head. 10 days x 4 starts x 5 kicks = 200. About a quarter of the time I have a compression lockup or the motor back fires smacking the kick start lever back into the bottom of my boot. I’m starting to really dislike this Bike !

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Outskirts of Mumbai, you don’t know what will happen next. Beats watching TV at home.
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Jenny, pushes through the traffic, tooting her horn & revving the noisy Bullet motor.
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Oh yeah, the intersection of where the RE Bullet stalled, didn’t write about that did I , don’t ask the incident is best forgotten about.

Not long after the fuel stop we reach the City of Kalyan (40 to 50kms from Mumbai’s CBD) it was now 12.30pm. I think it’s reasonable to say that this is where the outskirts of Mumbai commence. Yes the traffic was bad but we are starting to get use to that now. As per our usual plan we let Davo GPS guide us too within striking distance of our target, on this occasion, our Air BnB accommodation at the Bayview Heights in Navi Mumbai. Then we revert to Madam Google for more precise directions.

Sagar, the amazing man who momentarily rescued us from the Mumbai traffic.

At about 30kms from our target in Navi Mumbai we stopped in the district of Dombivili to set up Google Maps on Jenny’s Samsung 5 smartphone which is currently housing out Indian Airtel SIM. We had parked outside a Carwash/Used Cars/Mobile Auto Repair Business called RSA Autocare & the owner, Sagar Joshi came out to see if we required any assistance. He ended up inviting us in to have a tea & drink of water, while we chatted for about 45 minutes his workers washed out bikes !!!

We offered to pay for the bike washing but Sagar wouldn’t hear of it & said that it was complementary. Wow what wonderful hospitality, he also advised us the best way to ride to our Air BnB. Thank you Sagar it was a pleasure to talk with you about life & business in India.

Finally after riding on what seemed to be a maze of roads we arrived where we thought we should find the accommodation we have booked but couldn’t see it. Jenny checked her emails on her phone for the contact number but it seemed to have disappeared, so she sent another email. During all this time we were being badgered by two beggar children & an older woman (their mother?) our tempers were quite frayed by now & Jenny told them quite strongly to leave us alone. I went for a look around to see if I could locate the Bayview Heights but instead stumbled on an ATM with no one at it !!! Surely it must be broken or something ? The screen was old and difficult to read but yippee, using the two credit cards in my possession I managed too extract 2 x 2000 Crisp New Rupee Notes, about $80aud. Happy Days for team wiljen !

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We thought this was our Air BnB, but it wasn’t, still it’s similar to what ours looks like.
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The New Indian King of the Gandhi’s, worth about $40AUD.

Back with Jenny & the Bikes it was good to hear she had successfully contacted the Air BnB owner & we could see the High Rise building about 300 meters away. Once there we were greeted by a young man who knows as many English words as I know of Hindi, we went up to the 7th floor & were shown to our room. The whole thing is a 3 bedroom appartment & they rent out individual rooms with the lounge & kitchen being a shared common area. We have an ensuite, it will do for the next 2 to 3 nights while we get the Bike repaired.

NB: We went out for dinner & found a burger place, they only had chicken patties left so it was pretty average. Next we found a hole in the wall that sold Spirits & Beer. I ordered 4 Bottles of Kingfisher Beer & paid with one of my 2000IR notes, I was expecting to receive 15 x 100IR notes in change but the Merchant slipped me a now illegal 1000IR note, even though they had a sign up saying they will not accept 500IR or 1000IR notes as payment. After a short argument which involved me handing back the beer & asking for my 2000IR back he rectified the situation & gave me the correct change.
Apart from the odd bit of “Carpet Bagging” (wiljen slang for buying something you don’t need or want while traveling India), which we consider fair business this was the first occasion in the past 6 weeks where someone has intentionally tried to rip us off.
No more beer from that place !

                                                The view from our balcony this morning.

21/11/16, Monday, Navi Mumbai, we ride to Ram Motors Royal Enfield, 7kms away.
Our “Butler” Hanuman cooked us breakfast, omelettes & fruit. We then get organised and using Madam Google navigate our way to Navi Mumbai’s Old Town District. Amazingly we found Ram Motors without too much hassle.

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We have just arrived at Ram Motors, Royal Enfield, Navi Mumbai.

Next step was to try and explain the mechanical issue with the Bullet, the Mechanic kick starts it in front of me 4 times, it starts every time, only on the first attempt he had to have 2 cracks at it. He says the kick start is operating correctly, so it is now officially affirmative, I have bad kick start technique….

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I can see Himo in there somewhere.

Not sure what will happen next, even though I emailed the details I have a gut feeling Ram Motors haven’t ordered the part yet & we have no intention in spending 7 days here. I have also booked the Himalayan in for a service, we have nearly done 2700kms so far and 3000kms is the required oil change service interval. It will only cost 2000IR so time to take the opportunity for some maintenance, there are a couple of other minor issues as well, like some lose spokes & slow rear tyre air leak.

Ashwin Malik,  the owner of Ram Motors has just spoken to us & said they have all parts in stock for both bikes, he said the work will be completed today so there is a very real possibility we will be back on the road tomorrow or definitely Wednesday……

Later we enjoyed Chai & great conversation with Ashwin, we look around his Warehouse, it turns out that he is the supplier of RE parts to a third of India & lots of his spare parts heads overseas as well.  I was wrong to think he hadn’t ordered the parts. Team wiljen have accidentally stumbled into one of the biggest Royal Enfield suppliers in the world. Ashwin then drove us back to our Air BnB. The Indian hospitality is so genuine & generous it’s amazing. They really want visitors to have a good experience in India. So far it has well exceeded our expectations.

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Ashwin, another Top Bloke who has gone out of his way to assist us with our Indian Motor Bike Adventure, we can’t thank him enough for his help.

Goa we are coming, just be patient !

Hot off the Press: For Jenny’s RE Bullet to be repaired the whole crank case needs to be replaced, this will take 8 hours & significant sum of Rupees. After speaking to Lalli Singh in Delhi this is what has been decided.
1. Ashwin’s team at Ram Motors Royal Enfield, Navi Mumbai will do a couple of small mods, one of which involves putting a dab of weld on the kick start shaft to stop it slipping back into the crankcase and causing further damage.

2. We will ride the Bullet for a further 4 to 6 days down to Goa, about 500kms. The mods should help make kick starting it easier.
3. We will then make arrangements to Truck both bikes back to Delhi, Lalli’s, Machinist will be able to correct the current fault with the left side of the crankcase.
4. Team wiljen will then enjoy a relaxing 5 to 7 day break at a resort in Goa. Then fly back to Delhi, catch up with Lalli & pay him for the repairs to the Bullet. Which work out to be a fifth the cost of a new crankcase option.

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