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Old 4th July 2020, 23:18   #1
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Default A 250 km bicycle ride along the Konkan Coast

December 2016. Hey! that's not long back. It was the time we were all scrambling for currency notes after demonetization! Fells like yesterday right!?

Wifey wanted a beach vacation during the last week of the year and we are too restless to stay in one resort throughout the holiday. So we decided to bike along a few quiet beaches! It's been more than a year since we touched our bikes and both of us are definitely not in the best shape to ride long distances and we hardly have 2 weeks to train.

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Just the kind of beaches we are looking for. Pristine & uncrowded

Keeping our fitness in mind, we have started looking for places that are connected to Hyderabad by bus or flights. Here are the options we have:
  • Udupi/Gokarna to Panaji. Read somewhere that road work was in progress throughout the stretch. So dropped it.
  • Chennai to Madurai. The return flight from Madurai was very expensive and the train journey is too long.
  • Kochi to Mangalore. We were unsure of the traffic along this route as it connects places like Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, etc. We are looking for a quiet holiday.
  • Gujarat/Orissa/Bengal coast. These are my dream states to tour for various reasons and so dropped them for an epic road-trip in a car sometime in the future

And so we are left with the Konkan coast in Goa & Maharashtra. Not a bad option. Isn't it!
But there is one problem!

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Ridiculous elevation profile. Too many steep climbs for our liking

The elevation profile between Panaji and Mumbai (along the coast, not the usual highway) is unlike any other coastal stretch in the country. Too many short but steep climbs. There is nothing more shameful than getting down a bike and pushing it uphill on a bike tour!

We decided to fly to Goa with our bikes and ride leisurely as far as we could and ride as close to the coast as possible. There is no point in riding bikes on a highway. The rough plan we have is to ride from Dabolim to Ratnagiri/Ganpatipule over a week. Take a city bus or a cargo rickshaw to reach Kolhapur which is well connected to Hyderabad via bus or train.

With this plan, booked Hyderabad-Goa flight and a couple of AirBnB places in Goa to beat the Christmas rush.
We serviced our bikes and started training in the little time we have, riding ~20-40km per day.
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This is during one of our training rides in Hyderabad. Osman Sagar on the left.

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Old 5th July 2020, 22:37   #2
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The day has arrived. We have a 10 AM Air India flight to Goa. We rode on our bikes to the airport bus-stop and loaded our bikes into the bus. The conductor doesn't object if the bus is empty but expects some money. Reached the airport 2hrs prior to the departure and quickly packed our bikes for the flight journey.

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The airport bus was empty and we had no problem taking our bikes in

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RGIA

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This is the standard way of packing bicycles for a flight journey anywhere in the world. I will be carrying both our luggage. So just 1 carrier and panniers.

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The rules to carry a bike on the flight are different at different airports in the country. Every time I fly out of Hyderabad, I was asked by different airlines to get it wrapped in plastic.

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Our flight was via Pune, so we were given breakfast twice! It was surprisingly good!

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Finally reached Dabolim Airport by noon and quickly assembled our bikes, inflated the tyres, and hit the roads.

Our first choice is to stay close to Old Goa and take a quick spin in the morning. However, we did not find any accommodation with online booking. So booked a simple AirBnB place near Miramar for 1 night and headed to it via Dona Paula. It was just 30km but had a couple of killer climbs.

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All smiles...

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...despite the narrow roads

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Zuari bridge. Traffic on this narrow road is not kind to slow movers. Sorry, we had to ride on the footpaths.

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Soon we found ourselves in a massive traffic jam and had a fish thali for lunch hoping for the traffic to get cleared in the meantime. I will not be including the details of any barley soda that was popped during the ride

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Our host suggested we try O Cozinheiro for dinner. We had Cafreal and Xacuti with Goan bread and rice. Feni was too strong even with a generous mix of Coke. Bebinca was not in stock that night.

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Old 8th July 2020, 23:34   #3
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Miramar to Arambol:

Started early today, ~7 AM for no reason. Maybe we are just eager to ride. There are no places open for breakfast. We rode through the streets of Panaji for an hour or so and saw a bakery opening. Fueled ourselves with some junk and reached Panaji Ferry Terminal and took a crowded ferry to reach Betim.

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Breakfast for 1

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Reluctantly took a crowded ferry

I don't have pics but we passed through some lovely houses painted in bright colors. Bought a lot of ramphals at the Candolim market. In case you don't know, they belong to the same family of custard apple and tastes almost similar to it. Soon we were around some famous beaches like Calangute and Baga. They are way too crowded for liking. We quickly moved away towards Chapora. We found few fishing boats at the jetty and waited to see if someone can drop us at Morjim jetty but in vain. We started riding again and found a quiet spot by the Chapora river and spent a good time there and finished half of ramphals that we bought earlier in the day.

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View from Nerul Bridge

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One of the pioneers of hypnotism. He was born in Candolim.

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Chapora jetty. Morjim jetty is on the other end.

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Our kind of spot! Relaxed for a good hour by the Chapora river!

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She showed me a huge Toucan!

By afternoon we reached Arambol beach where we have an AirBnB booking for 2 nights at a place which is on the beach.
Spent the evening at the beach pampering ourselves with some fried food, soda, coffee, and whatever that was on the menu.

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Old 9th July 2020, 00:10   #4
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Arambol

We are here for 2 nights. Our AirBnB is right on the beach so no problem getting fresh water for a bath after a dip in the sea. This is a long beach so doesn't feel crowded and the crowd is mostly foreigners. The shore was hard enough to ride so we took our bikes and rode south as far as we could till Morjim beach via beaches of Mandrem and Ashvem.

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Arambol Beach

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Beach life

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There are a lot of shacks on the beach and the food was decent.

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You get amazing masala chai at places frequented by foreigners like Manali, Pushkar, Varanasi, etc. Arambol is no exception.

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Old 9th July 2020, 22:21   #5
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Default re: A 250 km bicycle ride along the Konkan Coast

Arambol to Shiroda

Today we leave Goa and enter Maharashtra.
Arambol and Shiroda are separated by the Terekhol River. It's just a 20km ride today but the route has lots of ups and downs.
We had paratha for breakfast and packed an apple pie, cheesecake, and a freshly made cinnamon roll to have on the way.

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Breakfast

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View after a tough climb

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What goes up must come down

We reached Querim Ferry Terminal to cross the Terekhol. However, the ferry was getting repaired and had to wait for nearly an hour. Few tourists with rented scooters also waited for the ferry instead of taking the Aronda bridge. Perhaps to avoid the interstate police check-post on the Maharashtra side?

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Ferry getting repaired at the opposite jetty. Had to wait for an hour.

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Wasted no time and had a fish thali at a dhaba close to the jetty

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Finally the ferry arrived

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Sand mining

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A gradual ascent welcomed us on the other side. Terekhol is one end of the Sahyadri Range.

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The church at Terekhol Fort. The fort is now a heritage hotel.

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View from Terekhol fort

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Ghost Tree

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Lunch at a seaside restaurant in Shiroda

Again we have an AirBnB booking for two nights in Shiroda. The place is on the beach. So no problem with a freshwater bath. The only problem here is there aren't any restaurants close by and it is pitch dark and did not feel safe to go to the place where we had lunch which is just 1km away.

Last edited by papr23 : 10th July 2020 at 23:26.
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Old 9th July 2020, 23:58   #6
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Shiroda

The beach at Shiroda is absolutely clean and there were just a few foreigners sunbathing in peace. A good portion of the beach was all ours until evening. There were a lot of people in the evening though. Mostly people from nearby areas. Also, it is Christmas today and our host gave us a plum cake and port wine!

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The first breakfast in Maharashtra. What else but kanda poha

Our host suggested we visit Yahwantgad Fort near Redi beach. It is ~2km from our place but we wanted to ride further so we took our bikes and rode along the beach instead of the road and had to cross a creek to reach Redi beach.

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Shiroda beach

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We saw few fishing boats coming via the creek

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A fisherman came towards us and helped us reach the other side

Yashwantgad is a small fort that is walkable from Redi beach. All the walls of the fort are entangled by the roots of trees and have a Gothic feel to it.

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Fort entrance

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I cannot share more pics on a public forum but you can search on Instagram for #redifort for some amazing pics!

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Mesmerizing views of Shiroda

We explored the fort for some time and while returning just before the exit we saw this beauty- An Indian Paradise Flycatcher
We are thrilled beyond words and somehow managed to take a pic! This is the first sighting of the Flycatcher for both of us!

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Indian Paradise Flycatcher

We are back at Redi beach and there is no fishermen in sight to help us cross the creek. We had no choice but to take the road which is ~8km. Just then we saw a couple crossing the creek and the water level is just knee-deep. So we crossed it holding the bikes up.

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We are exhausted with all the beauty around us and can't help but recollect Lester Burnham's words from American Beauty

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...but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... -Lester Burnham in American Beauty

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Old 10th July 2020, 00:35   #7
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Shiroda to Mhapan

Had poha for breakfast and checked-out. We don't have any advanced booking for a stay from here onward. We want to ride at least till Kalavi beach and ride further if we feel fresh.

The route has 4 killer climbs and we are exhausted by lunchtime. Rested for an hour after lunch. Called a couple of resorts around Kalavi beach and they are quite pricey for a one night stay. We pushed ahead and reached Mhapan and stayed there for the night.

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Vengurla


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Hard earned lunch


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Mhapan

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Wholesome meal at Mhapan. The best of the tour.

Not a good day of the tour except for the delicious food, especially after a wonderful day at Shiroda. Neither rode close to the beaches nor stayed at a beach.

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Old 10th July 2020, 18:31   #8
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Mhapan to Achara

Today is a ~50km ride and the terrain is slightly different today. It is a typical terrain you see over the Sahyadris. Ascents followed by a plateau and a descent. Here the ascents and descents are steep. Especially the ascent just after crossing Karli river via Chipi bridge and before Malvan. It killed us. We had to walk the bike on a few occasions. We did not have any legs to go via Sindhudurg. Luckily it is all rolling terrain once the climb was done.

We kept riding north, taking whatever road that is in front of us instead of the main road to reach Achara and passed through some scenic and super narrow roads. The road is wide enough to just fit 2 motorbikes. There is not a single soul here and felt like a ride through a national park with all shades of green and the company of many birds singing.

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saw him quite frequently

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Cruising at Chipi Plateau

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The upcoming Sindhudurg airport

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Chipi bridge

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Karli river

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The narrow road to Achara

It was ~4 PM by the time we reached Achara and took a simple room which is at a walkable distance from the beach which is run by a couple. We dropped the luggage and went to the beach to take a dip but saw a HUGE number of mole crabs that looked like shells at first glance! We sat away from them to enjoy yet another beautiful sunset.

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Fried fish at the beach

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It looked like shells at first glance

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They are mole crabs

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They need wet sand to survive and the swash area is filled with them.
They have adapted amazingly and you can read more about them here https://seaunseen.com/mole-crabs/

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That is a functioning ligthouse

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Sunset at Achara

Our hosts prepared yummy dinner with fish done in multiple ways. They made some sort of dosa for breakfast the next day. Noway tasted close to what we make at home but it tasted good nevertheless.

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Old 10th July 2020, 20:52   #9
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Achara to Kunkeshwar

Another short ride today. Just 25km.
Our host suggested we take a boat to cross the Achara river from Jamdulwadi.

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The fisherman who agreed to help us cross Achara river

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The boat appeared quite small to carry 2 bikes and 3 people but the fisherman assured it is sufficient

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To our shock a lady joined us! It's just like the shared auto-rickshaws in Hyderabad. There is always space for one more!

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Jamdulwadi at the other end

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Back on the super narrow road

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With so much time in hand we chose to walk through the lovely road. It's easier to walk than ride slowly.

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We soon joined the main road which is flanked by mango plantations

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Wifey wanted the blue colored wildflowers she saw

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We reached Kunkeshwar by noon and checked into a hotel just behind the famous Shiva temple. Kunkeshwar is also known as Konkan Kashi.

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Kunkeshwar Temple. Notice the super steep road behind it.

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Misal pav and kokum juice

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The super clean Kunkeshwar beach waiting for our footmarks

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Soon a fishing boat of this size returned to the shore with a lot of fishes. It is so therapeutic to watch so many people working in sync to remove all the fishes from the net and sort them.

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We walked along the beach as far as we could...

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...to witness yet another beautiful sunset!

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Old 10th July 2020, 22:42   #10
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Kunkeshwar to Devgad

We have just 2 more days of holiday left and need to reach Kolhapur to take a bus back to Hyderabad. One option is to ride till Kolhapur which is 130km over 2 days or stay at Devgad for a day and take a cargo auto-rickshaw to Kolhapur. Keeping our current fitness in mind we chose to go Devgad which is just 7km from Kunkeshwar if you cross the river on a boat or else it is around 20km by road. Note that the Taramumbri-Mithmumbri Bridge was not open and still under construction in 2016. Looks like it is open now.

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View of Kunkeshwar beach from the steep road behind the temple

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The other side of Kunkeshwar. The shade of blue is different here. It's on the cooler side

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Mithmumbri beach

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Rode through a pine plantation off the beach

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Another day, another boat crossing

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Devgad beach! The shade is on the greener side.

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We spent some time here enjoying the view

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We went back to the beach in the evening and the swash area is filled with mole crabs so we did not get into the water.

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We went up the Devgad fort just in time to enjoy the sunset

The next day in the afternoon we took a cargo auto-rickshaw to Kolhapur and booked a Volvo bus to Hyderabad and reached home with lots of memories!

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Closing thoughts after 3.5 years since the tour
Just as we planned, it was less about going the distance. We fell short of our rough target of Ratnagiri by ~100km or 2-3 days of riding but no regrets! We thoroughly enjoyed the tour- the route we have taken, the empty roads, the beaches, the food, the river crossings, the flora, and fauna! The next time we visit Goa, we will make sure to spend at least a day or two at Shiroda. Everything worked out perfectly for us and it was way better than what we have imagined. While writing this travelogue I found out that the narrow roads we have taken are part of MH SH4! Weird isn't it! There is no way a 4 wheeler can fit in those roads.

We have the habit of carrying the trash generated during the ride and dispose of responsibly at the end of the ride. We missed throwing away the seeds of ramphal we had as they were in one of the pockets in my camera bag and noticed it days after we returned home. We planted the seeds outside our home and the plant is now as tall as our daughter!

I still fail to give a convincing answer to my dad or father-in-law when asked about the safety aspect of going to such secluded places after each of our travels or me going solo. And we hope a few years down the line, our daughter joins us for more adventures

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FIN

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Old 11th July 2020, 03:10   #11
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Note from Support: Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th July 2020, 03:12   #12
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Loved the Travelogue papr23! Haven't been there in a long time but the Konkan beaches are really nice, plus the food!.
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Old 11th July 2020, 09:52   #13
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Default Re: A 250 km bicycle ride along the Konkan Coast

You guys are crazy man. Wonderfully crazy.
What an adventure! What a fantastic travelogue!!

I live near the same coast, just further down south. And I have recently taken up cycling again after many many years. You have inspired me to cycle along the coast again. I will start with a day trip and see where it goes. During my school days in Bombay, I used to ride from Chincholi, Malad to Marve beach everyday morning in the vacations - a good 7 km one way. I still remember the fun we had. Should be fun to do it again.
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Old 11th July 2020, 11:11   #14
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Default Re: A 250 km bicycle ride along the Konkan Coast

Beautiful one to read. Loved every bit of it. Got me memories of solo Motorbike trips to many of these konkan beaches and ferry crossings.

( PS : The Dosa that you had at Achara seems to be the 'Neer Dosas', a Coastal / Mangalore speciality. Quite yummy stuff actually. And yes, those are no where closer to the normal dosas that we are used to )
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Old 11th July 2020, 13:03   #15
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Default Re: A 250 km bicycle ride along the Konkan Coast

Being an endurance cyclist myself, loved reading your travelogue - the photos, the food and how you enjoyed the whole journey. Wishing you many more.

Last edited by aah78 : 12th July 2020 at 20:36. Reason: Typos fixed. Excessive dots removed.
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