- City: Kanpur
Day 2: Malwan to Ambolgad
The second day of the ride was from Malwan to Ambolgad along the Western Coast.
As I sat at a shop breakfasting on typical Maharashtrian fare of Misal Pav, something stood out. Not the food, but the people.
Many shops and eateries in the region are run by women alone. Something which we never see in the north. The women in general are more confident and you get the feeling that, women out there are safer and have a better standing in society, as compared to many other parts of the country.
Irrespective of which part of the country you ride in, one common thing is children. Children always wave out to cyclists. Especially children in school uniform. Dreary school is the polar opposite of freedom on a cycle.
On this route, the kids were not alone. Even adults would wave out and shout a hello. The innocence of small-town India is still present along the Konkan coast. More often than not, I would hear someone yell out, “पाय नाही दुखत”. Your ‘legs don’t hurt!’, they would exclaim as they would see me pedalling by.
The backwardness of the area is superb for the traveller, but horrible for the foodie. Konkan cuisine is great, unfortunately the locals have no clue about how economics or tourism works. The moment they realise you aren’t Maharashtrian; they will fleece you. It is best to first ask the price before ordering food. I ended up paying Rs 180/- for fish curry and rice at a roadside dhaba.
Scent of the Sea…
For someone like me who has been visiting Goa from childhood in all seasons, this Konkan route got monotonous soon. It just doesn’t change, up and down all day. Only the mango orchards along the way stood out. A month later and it would have been harvest season. Even then the air had a pleasant scent of mangoes.
Other than mangoes, the only break in monotony was the view of the sea every once in a while. Even though you are riding along the coast, you cannot see the sea always. But whenever you do spot water, it is invigorating. More so considering the heat and humidity in March.
What this route is lacking in beauty, it makes up in being a delight for cycling. The climbs aren’t taxing or frightening. The descents don’t last long. It is easy. Yet at the end of a 100 km ride, you have climbed 1000 metres. A decent amount. For the most part the asphalt is also of good quality. Even the slightly bad sections are easily rideable on a road bike.
The locals are easy to spot from a distance. All of them wear tees with their names printed on the back and village/ club out front. It feels as if everyone belongs to some team or the other. I would love to find out which sport do these teams belong to.
My night halt of Ambolgad was a tiny beach village. It was roughly 7 km off the main highway. The beach was no bigger than the saddle of my bike! A little further up there was a small cliff overlooking the vast expanse of the sea, a perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Watching it all go down at Ambolgad!
Ambolgad once again showed the lack of economic or tourist sense by the locals. Accommodation there was exceptionally steep for basic lodgings. I ended up staying in somebody’s house. The room rent was 3000 for a night. They gave me the hall for 700 rupees. Weirdly the hall was thrice the size of the room. How do the owners work out the math beats me!
On the positive side of things. I got real home cooked Konkan grub. The fish thali was phenomenal and the uncle there asked me if I would like a bottle of beer to wash it all down!
The locals aren’t unfriendly towards outsiders. They just think they need to milk every penny out of people who don’t speak Marathi. A sort of ‘sin tax’ for not speaking the language…
The day changes but the elevation profile looks much the same!
You can check out the full route details on Strava.