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Old 24th January 2008, 17:08   #1
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Default Xmas escapade to Mumbai on a Fiesta 1.6 sxi ABS

Xmas holidays were fast approaching, and I was hell bent on going on a long drive on my 9-month old Fiesta 1.6. After all, I had only covered 5400 kms on the odo and I needed to cover more before its 1st birthday. I also wanted to test its mileage after 3rd servicing.The only long trips I had made were to Srisailam in June and Warangal in October. So I started making plans to go either to Vizag, Chennai or Mumbai.

I dropped Vizag as I had recently gone there for a team outing. So between Chennai and Mumbai, I was in favour of Mumbai, but my son was interested in Chennai, as my bro-in-law stays there. My daughter said no to long car journeys, and my wife was not in favour of any long trip. But hell bent I was as it was a now or never situation. So I meticulously made plans for a drive to Chennai, with Mumbai as a backup.

I gathered lots of info from this forum on the road conditions to both places, and finalized going to Chennai via Kurnool and Chittoor.But a day before my planned trip, my bro-in-law called and apprised me that it was pouring in Chennai since a week, with no signs of abating. This put me off, so I convinced my son that Mumbai was indeed a good place, and that I would show him Juhu beach and the Big B's house (from outside, of course) if he accompanied me. Moreover, the distance was almost the same to Chennai or Mumbai.

So I tanked up on the prior evening (Dec 19th), and loaded items in my boot from the checklist I had prepared from this forum. I tried to sleep early but it was nearly 11 pm when I hit the bed. I had put the alarm at 5 am. But some damn bunch of guys in the neighbourhood were having a booze party and hollering till 3 a.m., and I silently cursed them. I am not sure if I slept at all, but I was up a minute before the alarm went off. After ablutions, we set off at 630 am, with a disapproving adieu from my wife. Odo reading was 5471 kms.

We took the Whisper Valley-Gachibowli road and passed Patancheru by 7 am. Roads were being widened there, but we could safely do 60 kmph at that stretch. I was able to drive around 100 thereafter. As the outside temperature was 20 degrees, we did not have to put on the AC.We soon passed Sadashivpet and Zaheerabad and we stopped for breakfast at a petrol bunk at around 830.

We encountered a rough patch of road for around 20 kms just before Homnabad and thereafter the roads were smooth. We reached
Sholapur at around 1230 and turned right to get into the bypass. Two ravenous cops stopped me and an Innova (both AP registered) and tried to make money. Since I had all documents (luckily originals too), their wishes could not be fulfilled.

We broke for lunch at a Reliance A1 plaza after Sholapur and tanked up.
Distance covered: 327 kms
Full tank fuel: 19.52
Mileage: 16.75, with 50% AC and at speeds mostly below 110.

We resumed after an hour, and my son seemed eager to drive, as he rarely had a chance to drive my Fiesta. He drove for an hour and was delighted with the pickup of the Fiesta,and how easy it was to overtake vehicles. He later gave me the wheel when he found that there were too many trucks to overtake. I took over and must confess that it was a pain to overtake those 'herds' of slow-moving trucks, as more than 6 or 7 travel in a bunch, and even a single mobike coming the other way is enough to stall your overtaking manoeuver. I had to overtake at least 20 of such herds before the road became 4 laned on the outskirts of Pune.

We reached Hadapsar flyover at around 515 pm and asked for directions. As advised, we turned right after 4 kms (was it Race Course?) and went by the Cantonment and Railway Station areas. By the time we reached the toll gate of the expressway, it was 630 pm ! I never realised it would take this long to cross Pune. I paid the toll and rang up my uncle at Thane to tell him we were dropping in for grub and stay. The expressway was a real breeze to drive on, and one of my life's amitions to drive on it was getting fulfilled. Since I did not know the road well, I started tailing an Optra at around 120 kmph. This paid off rich dividends as he knew exactly when to brake, and believe me, some steep bends cannot be taken above 50 kmph. (though the road markings say 30 is the limit). We reached the other end of the expressway at around 745 pm, but from there to Thane, it took an excruciating 1 hour 15 minutes. It was difficult to ask for directions at signal points because no blighter had his side glasses rolled down, and it was dark all around. We finally got someone near Palmbeach Galleria and he gave us some directions. The odo showed 719 kms at my uncle's place in Thane.

I relaxed with my uncle on Saturday, while my nephew took my son around Mumbai in a local train. Yes, I wanted my son to have a taste of local trains in Bombay. He could visit VT, Gateway of India, Flora Fountain, etc that day.

On Sunday, we took directions and drove down the Eastern Highway till Dadar and turned right to visit another uncle, err.. I
mean grand uncle at Prabha Devi, who was celebrating his 87th birthday. Had good California wine and lunch with him, after which we set off to Juhu via Bandra. Visited an aunt after 21 years near the beach, and she pointed out Rani Mukherji's house to my son, right across the street. After tea, I took a short drive towards the Big B's house , which seemed rather busy as his mom had passed away the day before. From there we drove to my pal's place called NRI SeaWoods complex at Navi Mumbai, about 40 kms away. We saw a movie (Taare Zameen Par) in the Galleria mall with his family, and crashed to bed at around midnight.

On Monday (Dec 24th), we started our return journey at 730 and tanked up again. This time, the mileage was only 14, probably due to the high speed drive on the expressway, and city driving. It was around 8 am when we hit the Expressway, and it was a bit foggy for about half an hour. Took many pics (sorry, did not take many in Mumbai as most of you must have seen Mumbai). The scenery was breath-taking, especially the hills and the winding roads. Most cars were going above 100 including small cars like Alto and Indicas. I found a numbskull driving a WagonR at 130+ speed, and a 1.6 Aveo chasing him. I let them go as the roads were curvy and had to stop to take a leak.
Some pics of the Expressway:-

Sunrise:
http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/2156/img1418vq6.jpg

http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/9291/img1409ag5.jpg

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/332/img1419ww8.jpg

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/9533/img1424oa6.jpg

Achtung, tunnel ahead
http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/4727/img1436aj2.jpg

Cost me 118 bucks, but sadly had to part with it:-
http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/4975/img1449yl2.jpg


After the roads straightened out, and visiblilty improved, I started flooring the throttle. After 15 mins or so, the WagonR was spotted, and I could easily pass hm at 140. After a few minutes I spotted the Aveo. I followed him for a good distance at 150 and had a good look at the car. It was a black 1.6 Aveo, and it looked real cute. When I spotted a straight stretch, and with my son etching me, I floored the gas again, and zipped past him at 170. The look of awe on the Aveo driver's face spurred me on. But since I did not know the road well, and because I felt the steering to be a little light, I slowed down and let him pass me. This proved beneficial to me as there were some steep bends ahead. We both overtook an SX4 and soon he was history. It was only at the toll gate that I spotted the SX4 again, and it looked like his ego was hurt. Perhaps he thought that what is supposedly the 'tallest, widest and longest' in the segment was
also the fastest ! (SX4 owners, please pardon me)

We passed Pune on the Bangalore highway and this time also it took more than an hour to reach the Sholapur highway at Hadapsar. Thankfully, the truck traffic was lesser on the Pune Sholapur stretch.We stopped for lunch at a dhaba after Temburni and tanked up at a Reliance bunk. This time the mileage was only 14.5, and the expressway chase must have been the culprit. We broke again for tea at Vitthal Dhaba.

Some pics of the road to Sholapur and Umerga fort:-

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/2377/img1451fn1.jpg

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/364/img1454vh4.jpg

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/723/img1456vv6.jpg

http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/5371/img1457ur1.jpg

We finally reached Hyderabad at 9 pm. with an odo reading of 6994, bringing the total to around 1523 kms.When I tanked up the
next day, the mileage turned out to be 16.42. This increased figure was probably because I switched off the AC for the last 100 kms
, as it was 18 degrees outside. This apart, I did not exceed 100 on the last stretch of 150 kms due to night driving and traffic.

Lessons learnt (mostly by my son, and some by me ) :-
1. If you see a car in front overtaking a truck in front of him, do not follow him blindly as you may do in city driving. Instead,
wait for him to finish, then take a look if anyone is coming in the opposite direction, and make your move only if the coast is clear.
This was a valuable lesson to my 18 year old son.
2. It is always safe to carry your original docuements with you, esp the licence, lest greedy cops stop you in another state and try
to extort money.
3. When driving in another city, drive like the locals do, and not 'Hyderabad ishtyle'. You could land in deep trouble if you hit
someone. I found Bombay drivers driving a lot gentler than those in Hyderabad.
4. It is better to ask for directions in acceptable Hindi like 'Bhai saheb, Thane jaane ka raasta bataiye', instead of 'Hello boss, Thane kaisa jaana hai'
5. Drive according to the road condition, and don't get tempted to follow a maniac.
6. Use AC as much as possible in fresh air mode, and switch over to recirculate mode when passing villages to avoid stink of cattle, etc.
7. Tank up at good bunks when you spot them, instead of stretching till the last minute.
8. Eat at Dhabas or restaurants that have many vehicles outside.
9. There is no need to worry about going to the loo, as most fuel bunks have decent rest rooms nowadays.
10. If possible, plan to leave early and arrive late so that you dont get stuck in city traffic.
11. Don't just carry a camera, use it (I agree I am guilty).

To sum up, it was a great journey. Only flipside was that I had to keep off Team-BHP for 4 long days. Another shocking news when I logged in on Dec 25th was learning about RTech's demise. I felt I was so close to Bombay, but had no wind of the tragedy. RIP RTech, we miss you a lot .
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Old 24th January 2008, 17:15   #2
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Hey man, great travelogue & nice pics! Really enjoyed reading it along with the bit about lessons learnt. I don't know why I had an impression that you were way younger - not someone who has an 18 year old son

Last edited by suman : 24th January 2008 at 17:17.
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Old 24th January 2008, 17:32   #3
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Lovely travelogue and lovely car. Fiesta 1.6 is the best car in its segment bar none IMHO.
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Old 24th January 2008, 17:38   #4
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Hey! Nice write up about the trip. The pictures are good, the expressway looks beautiful,and that sure is a lot of crowd at the tollgate. It's about time they should implement Smart Tag (Quick Guide to KM24 Toll Plaza (Delhi-Gurgaon border)) at these crowded tollgates.

Good thing your son learnt some real useful advice enroute.

Besides,Fiesta 1.6 SXi with ABS is a good car to drive on the highway.

cya
A
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Old 24th January 2008, 18:16   #5
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Amazing review VNabhi. You really like your Fiesta, it seems. And really liked the lessons learned section.
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Old 25th January 2008, 10:51   #6
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Thanks guys for your encouraging remarks.

Suman--I too feel a lot younger than I am

Reginofocus---I agree in toto

Absar--That is a nice write up.

Lalvaz--You are right, I really like my car.
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Old 25th January 2008, 14:26   #7
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Great write up. And nice to see lessons learnt section Also i liked the Mum-Pun Expy Card thing. How many times you can travel on that Expy using this Bullet Expy card ? Do you think its worth the price ?
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Old 25th January 2008, 14:35   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueDreamer View Post
Great write up. And nice to see lessons learnt section Also i liked the Mum-Pun Expy Card thing. How many times you can travel on that Expy using this Bullet Expy card ? Do you think its worth the price ?
I'm not sure if you can travel with it more than once. IMHO, it is really worth it, as it cuts travel time a lot. It is wide and relatively safe as there are cattle guards on the sides.

The other road is a winding ghat road that goes via Lonavala and Khandala. I'm not sure of that road's present condition, but I travelled from Bombay to Khandala on that road 22 years ago, and it was awesome at that point of time. I was travelling with my uncle in his Maruti 800 (my first trip in a Maruti car), and he was hitting 100 at some stretches. Touching speeds of 100 was the ultimate in those days. I also remember at Fiat 1100 overtook us, and a few minutes later we discovered it had rear-ended a bus on a steep curve, but with no major injuries.

Last edited by vnabhi : 25th January 2008 at 14:37. Reason: Forgot a line
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Old 25th January 2008, 15:19   #9
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If it cuts travel time a lot, then its good and olden days are really golden days
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Old 25th January 2008, 16:14   #10
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Good write up. Nice to read the lessons learnt. Most of us will forget what we have done on h/ways. Will also keep in mind the lessons learnt section of your post.
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Old 25th January 2008, 16:46   #11
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a very nice travelogue @ vnabhi. loved every bit of it. was that a type of toll-gate smart cards you were holding? i believe its a to and fro card?
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Old 25th January 2008, 16:55   #12
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very nice review and pics. your car gave an excellent FE considering its a 1.6. The lessons learnt section was very good.
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Old 25th January 2008, 17:03   #13
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Thanks guys.
planet_rocker--no, it is a one way card that you get at the toll gate at one end of the expressway. You have to surrender the card at the other end.

BlackPearl--I agree that the FE was good. On my previous trips, I got FE or 14 on my Srisailam trip in June, and 15.5 on my Warangal trip in October.
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Old 25th January 2008, 17:41   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
We reached Hadapsar flyover at around 515 pm and asked for directions. As advised, we turned right after 4 kms (was it Race Course?) and went by the Cantonment and Railway Station areas. By the time we reached the toll gate of the expressway, it was 630 pm ! I never realised it would take this long to cross Pune.
From Hadapsar flyover, there is a direct route to Katraj (~18 km) from where you can take the Pune bypass road (which is NH 4) for another 32 kms before reaching the Expressway. You can hit the Expressway in less than an hour (~50-55 mins, with some luck) from Hadapsar flyover via this route, which is longer by about 12 kms than the route you took through Pune city.
Quote:
I paid the toll and rang up my uncle at Thane to tell him we were dropping in for grub and stay. The expressway was a real breeze to drive on, and one of my life's amitions to drive on it was getting fulfilled. Since I did not know the road well, I started tailing an Optra at around 120 kmph. This paid off rich dividends as he knew exactly when to brake, and believe me, some steep bends cannot be taken above 50 kmph. (though the road markings say 30 is the limit). We reached the other end of the expressway at around 745 pm, but from there to Thane, it took an excruciating 1 hour 15 minutes.
[...]
You took about 1 hour 15 mins to reach the end of the Expressway from the entry toll gate. That is quite high; did you stop somewhere in between (say, for petrol or food)? Normally I cross the entire Expressway in about 50-55 mins and shouldn't take more than an hour even you restrict to a top speed of ~120 kmph. At those points where the speed limit is marked as 30 kmph in the Lonawala ghat section, you can do much more than 50 kmph. You just need to drive through the Expressway a couple of times to realize that. But there are a couple of sharp turns in the ghat section where you would be well advised to be at ~60 kmph or less.

Quote:
We passed Pune on the Bangalore highway and this time also it took more than an hour to reach the Sholapur highway at Hadapsar. Thankfully, the truck traffic was lesser on the Pune Sholapur stretch.We stopped for lunch at a dhaba after Temburni and tanked up at a Reliance bunk. This time the mileage was only 14.5, and the expressway chase must have been the culprit.
I have also found the mileage to drop (by about 1 km/lit) on the return trip from Mumbai to Pune. The reason I think is that on the return trip, you are going uphill and you will be in third/fourth gears on the Lonawala ghat section.

Last edited by rks : 25th January 2008 at 17:51.
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Old 26th January 2008, 20:42   #15
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Hi rks
I wish I had known the other route via Pune to the expressway.
Yes, we did stop for a few minutes at a gas station, but apart from that and a phone call to answer, we had no other cause for delay.
i might have been wrong about the time, but I do remember it took a little over an hour.
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