The IBW organizers decided to change the pattern for 2017 (or if you believe some sources, ran in to sponsor problems😊). So instead of Feb it was held in Nov. There was some concern on whether bikers would turn up in sufficient numbers or not. I for one quite like the idea of the IBW. I was keen on attending.
But then it is also a group effort to plan a ride to Goa. Esp. to go at a time as busy as the IBW. A lot of things need to be planned, not least of which is the accommodation because Goa gets really busy. It is also peak season in November. The plan was executed reasonably smoothly, we have become veterans of a sort I guess at planning these things now. We got together two options for resorts and put it to a vote along with TripAdvisor ratings. This helped us narrow it down to one.
Along the way, we also created a set of overnighter guidelines which we could use for future plans. Sharing it here in case you want to use it ever.
We were going to stay at Morgim beach, in a quieter less touristy part of Goa. This time let me deviate from the script a bit. I will talk more about the ride rather than the organizing.
In my case the Goa ride was in 2 parts. I rode a few days earlier, ahead of the group, to Dharwar, solo! Will write about that ride separately.
Debashish my long-standing riding buddy did the same (on a different day), he rode up to Hubli & stayed overnight. We both then rode together to Goa. Our riding styles are similar more of the stately pace than hectic.
We met just off the NH4 turning near Dharwar. There is a Petrol bunk about 1 km from the turn-off one of the few petrol bunks on the route. If you are using this route then I would recommend using this bunk to tank up for sure. In the time that I waited for Deb, I met bunch of riders from Kerala, all on Triumphs riding to Goa. I met another large group of Harleys, mostly Iron 883s riding to Goa from Hubli. So, no need to worry, IBW was attracting a ton of people to be sure. If at all, we needed to worry about hitting the road soon, before it became chockablock with superbikes.
So, after a nice cup of tea and some early morning upma, at roadside stall, we were all set to head off. The road is under construction, they are building a flyover, over the railway crossing. This thing has been WIP for a while now, we had to wait at the railway crossing which is not necessarily a flat road at all. There are a few huge craters and it is a bit of a pain to maneuver a super bike there I dread to think how I will do the same with my Thunderbird LT. The Superlow itself was tough to manage along those craters. Hopefully the flyover will be complete and we won’t have to use the old route. Since the railway crossing was closed we caught up with some of the Hubli HOGs at that crossing.
Of course, like at all crossings, people on either side believe that they are the only ones and take up all the space on the road. It is a funny sight if you can objectively observe it. Before the train arrives, you can see the other side and there are vehicles taking up the entire road with sundry motorcycles and cycles plugging any small gaps. You look at your own side and see the same thing, the last few guys driving up to the barrier are going further and further right. You can already see it in your mind, how on Earth will people go across?! Then for the space of about 5 minutes there is utter chaos, total bedlam, people go all over the place. To make it even more exciting the road is in seriously bad shape, not only are people trying to avoid each other they have to avoid craters and the train tracks which are exposed in places and need to be managed too. Phew! The fun thing is that this whole thing lasts for about 5 minutes and then it looks like nothing ever happened here, it is a nice quiet back country road.
Further from here the road gets in to the forest area. Single lane road through reasonably thick wooded areas. Last time, February (2016), when I had used this road it was in bad shape and I needed to get some welding done on my front fender because of the rough roads. I was fearing the same this time as well, however the road was in much better shape now. It was a really pleasant drive all the way from that railway crossing till you reach Mollem in the state of Goa, the road is a quiet forest route with not too much traffic. There are almost no places stop & take a refreshment break. For people riding directly from Bangalore to Goa it is recommended to eat lunch around Dharwar or before, as there is no lunch spot till you hit Mollem. Ideal thing is to tank up at the petrol bunk once you are off the NH4 and to eat at Mango Moods which is right there. You might need to warn them in advance if you are a large group though. In 2016, we had all stopped to eat here, about 200 of us.
The ghat section is of course brilliant, quiet roads with graceful curves what more could you ask for when you ate on a bike. While I am not the most experienced ghat rider I would like to point out to any beginners some of the basics in the box alongside.
We stopped for a break on the top of the ghat, where there is a signboard welcoming you to Goa. It is a little in the middle of nowhere so feels a bit weird to be welcomed to Goa out there, where is the beer and the beach ?! At that point when we were ready to roll again I took my bike off the stand and promptly over balanced on to the other side. I made the mistake of trying to recover from the over balance and still have a golfer’s elbow 6 months later still because of that. Then I gently let her down. Deb was on hand of course and he picked up the bike on his own. There is a proper way to pick up these heavy bikes. Do look it up on YouTube, super useful to know. The dash very helpfully said ‘bike tip’!
This brings me to the point that it is really good if you can ride with someone you know and trust and get-along with. I have a few friends who meet that criteria and it is always a pleasure to ride together. They are great company on the road and off it. Of course, it does not mean we see eye-to-eye on everything but we are able to have a sit-down discussion and disagree. I think the world is losing its ability to disagree and get-along at the same time. Sigh!!
Back on the road. So, we made our way down the hill and in to Goa. I must say there are few things more pleasurable that riding a motorcycle on a hill with curves. The sheer fun of leaning in to curves is what we riders live for. The little ghat has plenty of these to offer and it was a super fun experience. Thoroughly enjoyed the ghats. Of course, one of the highlights of reaching Londa is you get Vada-pav. Living in Bangalore one is a little starved of this simple delicacy. So, we made a beeline for the food stalls and dug in to a couple of good old Vada pavs followed by chai.
Once you reach Mollem, you know you are in Goa. Why?! You see a ton of booze stores 😊, peppered all over the place. The whole 500 mtrs from a highway does not seem to have had much impact. Or was that just national highways?!
From Mollem the roads diverge quite a bit, depending on which part of Goa you are looking to get to. We trusted our fate to aunty Google who told us where we turn and where we don’t.
We were heading to Morgim Beach, Montego Bay Beach Resort. Google knew where it was and decided how we got there. My word! Google that day decided that we deserved to go the scenic route. We went through such small roads that even our bikes felt like they were being squished, god save any cars that follow those directions. The roads just seemed to wind round and round and not go anywhere meaningful. We rode for well over 90 minutes from the time we felt we were close to the destination. Not sure what got in to Google aunty – but she really led us a merry dance that day.
Nevertheless, we did finally get to the resort and figured the faster way to get there upon asking the guys at the reception. Not trusting technology completely might have saved us 45 minutes but then who cares, we got to ride around the back roads for 45 minutes more!