Tour De Vasai : Season 3 : 7th August 2016. A photoblog

Tour De Vasai

photos courtesy ( few ): cycle village /organisers’ Facebook postings for general public

7th August 2016

tour de vasai group photo without effect

tour de vasai group photo

 

Prelude : In the information age it does not take much time to know about events or group activities . One has to be either active on internet , mainly social media groups or be  part of a group , dedicated to common interests or hobbies.

When there was a posting on Pahiya group about third edition of Tour De Vasai, it sounded more like a very tough event. Soon it got cleared that the 50 km ride is more of a group cycling event.

I spoke to Rajesh of Pahiya group and he gave a clearer idea about the event.

“Oh! This sounds like my kind of cycling! “ was my reaction.

Pahiya group did not take much interest in the event as everyone is either on BRM kind of evolution curve or triathlon path which leads to iron man circuit.

Doing a slow pace (as compared to prevailing aspirations ) group cycling, touring Virar and Vasai towns, exploring the surroundings are definitely  not appealing  to the most of the Pahiya group members.

 

Yes there was a little buzz of non stop cycling from borivli to start point at Virar west, take part in 50 km group cycling( may be boring and less exciting ) and come back with bums on the saddles, but soon things fizzled out. I remained non committal till last moment , may be because there was no paid registration. It looked like a free event and there are those stupid inherent hesitations which force you to doubt quality of  a free event.

As a runner I have been part of many paid events and at times found few of them  poorly managed  . You end up becoming a part of “ loose talk “ critics .

Registration was online and very simple.

Subsequently there was one email confirming my participation.

Unlike other cyclist like Sree, I don’t go out of way to call the organising team to find out extra details.

A day before the event I take the final call of doing it.

On eve of the event day I clean my cycle, do my type of basic service, fold the cycle and put it in trunk/boot of the car.

The event day.

I am up by 3.00 am . I want to reach Virar west by 5.30 am, knowing myself that will not be possible.

Highway driving till Virar phata is smooth as I keep shuffling between fast music, qawaalis to ghazal . I consider myself  a good CJ (Car jockey) who can surprise the listeners with diversity of music.

Post Virar phata I have kept navigator on . Given a choice in most populated country like ours I prefer stopping and asking fellow humans for exact directions. The road direction given by fellow Indians can be too detailed to just bizarre.

Most interesting are the ones who feel so obliged that they want to come with you in your vehicle to guide you till destination. Some who actually travel with  you take their job so seriously that they become your local guide .

In urban world believing some stranger is a strict “no “

With the help of the navigator, locals in Virar and in the end with the help of a few fellow cyclists (riding till the destination)  I reach  Ameya Classic Club at Yashvant nagar , Virar west.

It’s 5.50 am but I realise that even though I am technically late the organisers have to yet start the basic procedures.

I have ample time to park the car, remove the cycle, unfold and check it a couple of times for adjusting and making sure of the setting of the front handle ( a perennial self doubting setting ) , answer the nature’s call.

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yashawant nagar early morning
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parking

 

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getting ready

 

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the Indian Jugaad

I am one of the first one to receive the T shirt as I am able to anticipate the early morning confusion and then the steps to clear the same. The team soon becomes efficient and even on the spot registrations are taken.

Soon Who’s Who ? of today’s events are introduced.

Shri Rajiv  Patil( nana)  ( Mayor, the first citizen  and construction magnet of the region ) has given all the blessings to the event whole heartedly .

He is even going to cycle with us.

I am well aware of organising skills of the man. He is part of the wondrous team who are organising the most spectacular running marathon in India.

If someone wants to witness and enjoy people’s participation she/he must run Vasai Virar mayor’s half marathon.

Virar’s own iron man  Mr Hardik Patil, the  fire fox lady, and Dr Dipak Desai are introduced as cyclists line up and become a bit restless as it is nearing 6.30 now.

Soon there is flag off. We are more than 200 cyclists ,all in blue T-shirts.

We have a variety of cycles moving in a large group . We all are cycling towards Vasai Fort.

The combined value of all the cycles can reach to interesting figures.

Our route soon takes familiar roads of Vasai Virar marathon routes.

Morning traffic is there. Riding through the Bolinj area of Virar is quite enjoyable as it is quite green with colorful bungalows with equally interesting names.

Most of the names of Villas and independent houses must have interesting stories to tell.

Some roads are wide .

 

 

 

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overview

 

Map of Vasai-Amazing Maharashtra

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Sunday Mass

 

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the fly over

 

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sunday mass, Papdi

 

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I am cycling solo. I do not know anyone. So far I have not made any attempts to talk to anyone except the customary good mornings’ ‘hellos’ or just common gesture of appreciating each other as we all have gathered for this event which makes us special as compared to thousands others who are still sleeping on Sunday morning or just left out.

Most of the cyclists have come in groups, so they are busy within the groups. Few solos have self doubts so they are best left alone. Cycling may not give enough time to strike and continue any interesting conversation. ( how wrong one can be……)

One fellow cyclist looks at me and asks “ Cycling alone ??”

“yep” is followed by

“from? “

What should I say ?

When I say “Borivli “

He tells me

“I have come from Girgaon” and pedals so fast to leave my cycle space immediately.

He sounded more like some confused guy of SOBO.

He has the typical Sobo expression as most of Sobo guys think beyond middle class Dadar everything is quite far near Ahmedabad.

Coincidentally we find ourselves cycling couple of times more and I use those opportunities  to request him to raise his  saddle height as I find his knees bending too much . On second attempt he likes my advice and later acknowledges my concern with positive eye contact.

The most beautiful sight of today morning is of “ the father daughter duo cycling together” on a  tandem bicycle.( two seater )

father daughter

Daughter is almost same as Riva’s ( our elder one ) age and she is cycling effortlessly.

(it is obvious that at times I keep seeing Riva in many girls. Whenever I am travelling and I happen to see a pair of father daughter of similar age spectrum my eyes see Riva .)

There is a great chemistry between them including the body movements which follow a rhythmic pattern.

Soon we are at Nalasopara flyover near railway station. It’s exactly the reverse route of vasai virar half marathon for me. We get down from flyover and take U turn to take main market road which takes us to Vasant Nagari / Evershine city.

The whole road comes to super life during the marathon.

Presently roads are bad at many places as it is monsoon , but when compared Mumbai suburb’s road standards ,they are still movement friendly.

Half way to Vasant Nagari we take turn towards Ever shine city and pass through one more planned township.

We take a parallel road to normal khadi road . ( Please read my blog and photoblogs of vasai virar half marathons )

Vasai station flyover has slow incline and we cross over  and cycle on the main market road just to take right turn before vasai station.

The road now is familiar and we cycle all the way till ST stand . We pass by Datani  square mall where roads are extra wide. We pass by lovely lakes (not necessarily well maintained). We leave the main road and take left turn so as to cycle towards Famous Vasai fort.

 

As we are cycling towards Vasai fort few of the cyclists are cycling with Anna the colourful cyclist: Thane’s badshah  from chendani koliwada. The man is ultimate. He carries himself in his characteristic style.

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He is riding a cycle which is now almost 20 years old . It is simple mono gear cycle. He is man on the mission . He keeps cycling around India. He has just returned  from Karnataka.  Save Environment , Save Trees, Grow Trees are the simple messages he carries wherever he goes on his cycle.

A long distance cyclist with a trouser ( more of an  office goer’s dress code ) and T shirt. He tries to stay in temples, dharmshalas or with  anyone who offers him some place to stay overnight.

He is supposed to carry on towards highway , but seeing a huge cycle group he is curious and few of our cyclists friends have pursued him to join our Tour De Vasai for remaining part .

He willingly joins and is more than happy to share is journey and bantofy all the gyan he has.

“will I get some certificate ? “ is his obvious question .

He is carrying a lot of newspaper cuttings and certificates featuring him.

Soon we are within Archaeology of India protected areas. We are approaching Vasai Fort.

tour de vasai cycle villagesbh

I am now amused with myself. Vasai fort area is quite huge and it is very much within greater –greater Mumbai region.

I have never been to Vasai fort.

In India I have travelled to lot of places. Seen a lot of forts including forts in Nagaland, but here I am in a historical fort especially more relevant to Mumbai , Maratha and Portuguese perspective but never visited nor read much.

The ruins are beautiful. We do not get time to see much.

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vasai map marathi

We park our cycles. Wrist band is tied on our hands as a proof of half distance crossed. (No finishers medal if we do not get two wrist bands and wear the given Tour De Vasai Ts ).

 

 

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There are counters of water and enerzal outside and inside one of the fort area. They have kept Bananas , Glucose Biscuits and Hot Tea. (I again remind my self : they have not charged anything. )

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The arrangement so far has been quite good. To maintain some kind of group cycling atmosphere there are volunteers at regular distance. The volunteers are also on bikes , guiding the cyclists . They wait till the last batch of cyclists pass the particular zone .

There have been many turns and lane crossings. Enough to lose the track, but everyone has been given proper guidance to reach Vasai fort and at the half way point there is this kind of refreshments.

Soon everyone is requested to have few group photos. Which are followed by individual to small groups photo sessions .

tour de vasai group photo

When I inquire for washroom kind of facility, one of the fellow cyclist looks at me with amusement and shrugs and shows the ruins all around and tells me the famous Marathi saying suitable for this kind of situation

“The whole vhavar is our ! “ { the whole world ( surroundings) are ours to do whatever we want to do ! }

Post nature’s call I have a quick rounds of ruins of the fort but there is hardly any time .

No one is allowed to go ahead as organisers want everyone to remain within larger group and they are able to send their volunteers ahead for guidance.

“ the roads ahead are narrower as we will be passing by residential areas .” we are informed.

Basically we are going to take the old villages connecting road all the way to Arnala beach from Vasai fort.

As we leave fort we pass by the memorial of Chimaji Appa, the great Maratha general who fought and defeated the Portuguese and took control of western India. In recent movie Bajirao Masatani his portrayal is quite different and one cannot form a good opinion about him as the great able military commander.

 

We have no time to stop and have a round .

What follows is the best route of the whole Tour De Vasai programme. Green and  periodically reminding you of coastal belt’s inherent beauty.

visual nicetour de vasai cycle village

There are stretches where you are reminded of bandra or goa kind of internal roads. Yes there are spots where human population is relatively dense so speed is out of question. Our riding is also more or less in single lane, one cyclist following the other.

I would like to do this stretch again and again.

I want to enjoy my ride. Ideally my solo riding without much interaction with any one should happen on this stretch. I can observe a lot, can take few photos. Basically to observe and imbibe.

But destiny has some other plans. I happen to see a mini cooper . A foldy cycle with a lot of Dahon components.

My foldy is more with basic design . It has one central hinge from where it folds. Dahon kind of bikes look more sophisticated. I want to enquire more about the foldy.

dr and minijpg

I ask the rider about the cycle, but soon we are talking on many other issues.

The rider is Dr Dipak Desai ( who was introduced in the morning but who pays much attention to the opening/flagging off ceremony )

He is a leading gynaecologist  owning  Virar Maternity  and Nursing Home .

What follows is great experience as we keep interacting for next half an hour . We have to constantly  struggle to remain within the distance where conversation can be continued. At times we fall back into  a single lane , but somehow manage to remain together.

“ I have had major back problem throughout my mid forties. Cycling has helped me a lot. Now I am in early sixties. Recently I have started leaning artistic roller skating. I am also learning Geeta from multiple sources.”

Soon we are talking  about the great Japanese “ Kaizen.”

As a vendor of capital items to a lot of auto and auto ancillaries we are exposed to Kaizen. We are not part of a supply chain where kaizen is directly applied on us, but interactions are always there.

My kaizen knowledge is limited. Doctor Desai‘s tone becomes for passionate as he talks on kaizen.

“I got introduced to kaizen initially through some management book , but soon got hooked to it. We were struggling at out hospital to manage number of surgeries especially C section ones.”

“ is spite of our efforts we could do only do limited surgeries. I applied all the kaizen ideas in our hospital. Involved everyone including peons. We had series of internal meetings for small-small continuous improvement and soon we could reduce the preparation time , Operation theatre time and post surgery time. Now we are doing many more surgeries. I am invited from the whole globe UK to Cambodia to share my Kaizen stories related to my medical field.”

“ I love long road trips .”

We both share our little dream of doing India to south east asia by road. Basically travelling through India’s northeast and then driving through Myanmar, Thailand, Combodia, Malaysia all the way to Singapore.

Doctor saab now tries to demystify kaizen further. First he sings one Marathi poem on Kaizen , basically it is kind of definition and explanation of kaizen . Soon he explains “I have tried to solve simple things like remembering districts of Maharashtra or remembering states of India in kaizen way. We all like poetry which rhymes very well.”

Doctorsaab starts singing the names of districts of Maharashtra followed by states of India in his own style of poetry.

All this is happening as we  are cycling together.

with dr desai

“ I had never ever done any poetry before , but I found poems as a useful tool for kaizen way of learning so I became a poet ! “ he tells me as a matter of fact.

Throughout our tour Doctor’s Mahindra SUV is following us. He has two planned surgeries which he wants to do post Tour De Vasai event, but as a matter of precaution he has kept his car with one attentive driver who is in constant touch with hospital staff. In case of some emergency doctor sahib has decided to leave the cycle tour and rush to the hospital (fortunately that kind of crisis never comes and doctor finishes the tour , sings his kaizen poem for everyone from dais before the prize distribution )

 

All one can do is just admire this gentleman . He is a doer at this age . He has kept his childlike enthusiasm alive and kicking. If you want to pursue all your hobbies( which you can add at any age ) with utmost care and respect to your core  profession : yes it is very much possible.

Soon we are reaching the Arnala point for second band on our wrist . Doctor sahib gets busy with his driver for some coordination and I move on .

Before I realise what is happening I am riding along with Mr Kedar Parulekar. He is a  Mumbai boy . 3rd generation of Mumbaikars. Grandfather and family came from vengurla and settled at Girgaon . Father and cousins moved in Goregaon area. By the third generation , parulekars are all over Mumbai with my new cyclist friend well settled in vasai . Like many other Vasai boys he has been a hard core shippy before switching over to Hospital administration side.

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He makes my remaining cycling effortless. He has ready anecdotes about who ‘s who of vasai virar to the local east India language.

The  Local Vasai language( east Indian ) is quite unique . According to him  a good looking girl suddenly talking in local language can really surprise an outsider.

As I cycle on , I gain little more knowledge of the region including geography.

We are not taken till Arnala beach . We have just touched few of the  leading paths/lanes to Arnala beach . At one place we must have been 200 metres away from the beach access.

 

Our 2nd wrist band point is off Arnala beach road and on the road to Virar.

I have never been to Arnala beach till now . ( yes I can add , I have been to so many beaches…………..etc etc )

Looks like I will have to come back for Vasai fort and Arnala beach !!

We soon take road Back to Virar on the road which normal tourists take to come from Virar station to Arnala beach.

We are back at Ameya classic club as our tour ends. It is an end of 50 + kilometres cycling  as per my garmin with timing of 2.55 hours.

We have enjoyed our ride.

The hot breakfast is enjoyed by every one  as there are pohe, sheera, upama, batata wada with hot tea.

By this time sun is out and it is getting hot.

We are next to swimming pool and are able to use washrooms attached to swimming pool.

Post breakfast there is even a group stretching session ( actually most of the cyclists have concentrated more on eating after 50 km ride )

Soon a long award ceremony follows including lucky draw where one firefox cycle is gifted to the winner.

Whos who of today’s event are conducting the closing ceremony. They start giving finishers medal and soon realise one single line may take hell of time. Once my turn is over two lines are formed.

I realise that I may be one of those who are not from local area and we have still a long distance to travel to reach home .

We have photo session as the event memory and I say good bye to Kedar who is still in the medal line.

I have one more break at Bhajansons dairy farm Off Vasai Highway as I drive back.

By the time I reach home it is almost 1 pm in the afternoon.

Overall quite an interesting experience.

 

……………………………………………………………………….the end.

 

3 thoughts on “Tour De Vasai : Season 3 : 7th August 2016. A photoblog

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