With the year-end work crunch what better way to destress than a weekend fling in Goa on a shiny red Ducati?
The month of December usually means a load of work at ZigWheels and that means we are running helter-skelter at the speed close to Usain Bolt's for the most part. And the end of the world rumours in the air meant it was no point working too hard if it was all to end anyway. But amidst all this year end frenzy it dawned on me that this would be the last time that we'd have a Ducati Monster 795 in the ZigWheels garage, if the Mayan predictions were spot-on.
I swiftly picked up the keys to the bike and headed in the direction of Goa, the great Indian watering hole. However, according to the bossman's directive, I had no more than 48 hours to live it up astride this Italian beauty. Sigh.
Wasting no time, I packed some basic belongings into a new and spacious Viaterra touring bag and left Pune at 11.00am. Taking the wide National Highway 4 to Kolhapur with its scenic landscape was the perfect idea, as the open highway would allow me to keep the Monster 795 running in triple-digit figures for most part of the ride, enabling me to complete Pune-Goa-Pune in less then 48 hours. With McDonald fast food for brunch and Konkani delicacies for lunch at Amboli, it was incredible how comfortable and fatigue free the first 300km were. Apart from the sheer thrill of an 87-horsepower motorcycle, the quick acceleration also makes covering long distances a breeze.
Moreover, the riding position is comfortable and extremely easy on a naked machine like the 795 – no aching arms or sore back. The wind blast however is something you have to learn to deal with. Riding into the wind at high speeds, can leave you with a case of strained neck muscles at the end of the ride.
While the open highway meant it was possible to gun the 795 with no worries, but the bike's real potential and perfectly poised dynamics came to the fore on the narrow bumpy B-roads leading to the Amboli ghats. Taking on road undulations without hiccup, the Monster’s confident demeanour is helped by the oodles of torque delivered from the large 803cc air-cooled vee-twin motor. The combination means that the beast has power on tap at all times while the damping units do a brilliant job despite the rapidly changing road conditions. There was never a time on the Pune to Goa and back ride that I had to slow down to a crawl regardless of the road conditions.
Having tested the machine earlier at its launch in India, I wasn’t too impressed with the bike’s headlight beam spread and throw and so I decided to avoid night riding. I reached the calm and serene Vagator beach in North Goa by about 5.30pm. I checked into a familiar lodge and wasted no time in heading for a swim at the beach a stone’s throw away. As night darkness crept in, the town was silent and the thunderous growls of the Monster 795’s Vee-twin motor echoed loud and clear in the narrow bylanes, drawing the attention of passers-by and tourists.
I parked the Ducati at one of my favourite Vagator joints and no surprise, I soon found myself exchanging notes with a bunch of the foreign tourists, some of them turning out to be dyed in the wool bikers. On the one evening I had in Goa, it felt to good to meet up with motorcyclists to swap biking stories with, the banter going full swing late into the night. It is easy to make friends when motorcycles are a common interest. After all the saddle time and swimming, it was time to gorge on delicious Goan seafood. It was then time to hit the sack and I wanted to make sure I had enough sleep as I had to ride back to Pune.
The day dawned cool and bright and the balmy Goa scenery is great to wake up to with the coconut fronds and the azure sea. I couldn't resist the temptation and got astride the Monster for a morning ride around North Goa. The beaches looked pristine in the morning light with the sea waves crashing on the rocks. The old architecture of North Goa glowed in the morning light as I took it all in at a lazy pace. The beautiful landscapes of Goa are a thrill in themselves.
After breakfast it was time to head back to Pune. The delayed 10.00am start meant I encountered a rush of traffic exiting Goa, but once on the NH17, things got better and I could crack open the Monster's throttle to make up for lost time. The Monster’s exceptional plush ride and strong low end grunt meant I could maintain good speeds and I had covered a considerable distance before taking my first stop. Following the same route home via the Amboli ghats, I arrived on the NH4 by lunch time.
A motorcycle ride in India is incomplete without highway dhaba food and I stopped at Sahara Hotel, one of the best places on the NH4 near the Khambatki ghats. The egg bhurji-paratha meal was the perfect repast. As I got going again, the final 60km stretch to Pune was clogged with traffic but thanks to the Monster 795’s effortless handling, it was less of a strain. Arriving in Pune, I wished I could have made the ride last longer. But now that the Mayan predictions have come to nought, I am promising myself a much more elaborate ride on a bigger Ducati to another exotic location in India real soon.