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Mumbai to Harnai – the beautiful coast

Squeezing on a small boat in Marud
There is no way all of us – with all our bikes – are fitting on that little boat.
It’s early and we’ve just ridden 5k out of Janjira to the ferry dock in Murud.  It was a gorgeous morning- with the sun rising over the mountain and casting a long white light over harbor and the village.  A huge fort surrounded by water lay just offshore …. These folks loved their fortifications.
But, somehow, they stacked up the bikes and then carefully stacked up the cyclists and off we went on the second ferry ride in the two days since we left Mumbai heading south.
Bikes were lined up inside the open boat and laid flat on the top of the boat. Riders were packed in the back and also sitting on the top of the boat behind the bikes around the diesel exhaust pipe.  It all worked.  Even unloading – where for the second time we got us and our bikes off the boat by climbing over and walking through another boat tied between us and the pier. Apparently all this is business as usual.
The two days cycling south from Mumbai have been beautiful, and the cycling today, the second day as we hit mountains again was beautiful and challenging.
You would think this area would be covered in Mumbai vacation homes and resorts. But luckily they head further south to Goa to play, so we are seeing little fishing villages and heading through mountain towns and seeing wetlands, mangrove swamps, forests and mountains.  
Lovely little villages have varied drastically from well-off coastal towns with double-story concrete homes and well-kept streets to small mountain villages where homes are made from the same rich red clay as the earth – shaped into bricks and terraced up steep mountain hillsides.
This area is where the Western Gnat Mountains meet the Arabian Sea. We alternate between climbing mountains and dropping back down to villages nestled beside rivers to hitting the actual coast with its grey/white sand beaches, coconut trees and wonderful ocean breeze.
Our first night we stayed in Janjira in a beach hotel with a pirate fort rising from the ocean offshore. Apparently the pirates set up there and raided at will, and no government was able to stop them.
? Name this bat ?
And the bats … huge bats hung from the tops of tall pine trees wrapped in their wings waiting for night. HUGE.  Thousands of them. Never seen anything like it.  We think they may have been flying foxes, but if anyone can ID them from this photo let me know.
Tonight we are at another beach resort after a challenging climbing day. Beautiful sandy beach, it feels like what normal people consider a holiday.
I realize how much I like the hard bike days- it makes cycling more interesting and fun.  By hard I mean the climbing or miles. We had some good climbs today – including up one super steep switchback to be rewarded by an amazing view of the village below. The village was celebrating a wedding. We could see the procession winding its way through the streets, and the music carried up to the top of the mountain. 
Really the hardest thing on this trip has been the roads- and we had our share of rough roads again today. So rough that the metal tongue on 2 water bottle cages have broken on my handlebars due to the stress and metal fatigue from the rattling and vibrations – so now I’ve given up on keeping a bottle there and am down a bottle as it gets hotter – which is OK as long as I stop and get drinks along the way.
We should have more of the same between now and Goa – I’m looking forward to good cycling.
(No internet access for 5 days on the beautiful and remote coast between Mumbai and Goa, so bear with the deluge of posts …)
Leigh Pate
Leigh Pate is a writer, former political consultant and two time cancer patient and cancer research advocate living in Seattle, WA

3 thoughts on “Mumbai to Harnai – the beautiful coast

  1. Fascinating stuff, Leigh. Quite the adventure. Your days must be quite full in making life work with limited support, logistics, tough riding, blogging, pictures etc. Sounds like you are still into the side trips and exploring to make the most of the experience. THe changes in topography and he mountains so close to the ocean is quite interesting. THanks for sharing.

  2. So very interesting Leigh!!! What an adventure and great memories to bring back to Seattle——Sherman

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