• City: Kanpur

    Day 3: Ambolgad to Velneshwar
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Chilling at the beach…</p>
    On the way out of Ambolgad there was a tiny nondescript fort. Another common feature in this land. You see many of these crumbling buildings with no maintenance and no care. For an outsider it is still pretty cool to check out, but for the locals it is old hat.

    I planned to breakfast at the village on the highway, rather than Ambolgad, because prices at the latter was too steep. The promised food didn’t materialize and I ended up riding for an hour and a half on an empty stomach. Not the perfect way to start the day.

    Food in Maharashtra is by and large good for a cyclist. Missal and vada pao are great sources of carbs. You get all the salt, potatoes and wheat you need to keep your legs spinning. At the same time, it is light and you don’t feel weighed down after munching on these snacks.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>One of the many places where you can buy Vada Pao. Perfect cycling snack!</p>
    As I moved further north, the golden-brown grassy tabletops reduced and the greenery increased gradually. The roads were super smooth courtesy of there being a massive JSW Steel plant in the region.

    Along the way I rode through the picturesque Aarey Waarey beaches. Arguably the most scenic stretch on this route. From the cliff you could see water till the horizon and serene beaches on either side, with verdant green towering hills covering the land mass.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>A protected beach for turtles, this is a protected nesting cage…</p>
    Another tourist hotspot along the way is Ganpatipule. I happened to passing through on a weekend and the place was filled with MH 12 cars. The locals told me that the Pune folks are the worst drivers in the world. After encountering them more than a few times on the road, I couldn’t help but agree!

    This route is known for its multiple ferry rides. And finally, I got to hop onto my first ferry. Surprisingly not just the passengers, but cycles are also charged a ticket. I had gotten used to Goa, where carrying your cycle along was free. Being green doesn’t come with perks on a Maharashtrian ferry!
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Fishing villages enroute…</p>
    The short ferry ride was incredible, as I caught the sun shimmering over the water around sunset. To top it off, I got the sunset for a second time once I climbed the cliff overlooking the ferry point. Two sunsets in one day is more than what I had bargained for!

    With the sun having disappeared over the horizon, it was time to ride in the dark. The headlight was in my bag and I was too lazy to take it out. And I continued pedalling under a pitch-black sky.

    It was magical.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>The lone fisherman…</p>
    Until I took a wrong turn and went down a horrible road to a village in the middle of nowhere. After much head scratching, I found someone to give me directions to the village which I was in search of, Velneshwar.

    At Velneshwar I got a shack literally a stone’s throw away from the beach. The sound of crashing waves through the night was exactly what the doctor ordered.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Beach View</p>
    Every signboard in the region is in Marathi and only Maharashtrians seem to visit the place. Most people running the hotels, restaurants and shacks couldn’t speak a word of Hindi or English. That is how little exposure there is to tourism in this part of the world. If you don’t understand Marathi, you can go fly a kite!

    The lack of tourist-oriented infrastructure once again showed itself when I ordered dinner. A fish thali was served with a spoonful of rice and extra rice was charged separately. This was the first time I have been charged for extra rice in a rice eating part of the world. Crazy!
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Coastal Life…</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Chomp on a vada pav as you enjoy the scenery…</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Racing boats on the ferry ride!</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>The elevation graph has more teeth than your fork!</p>
    Check out the full route on Strava.