If evolution happened fast enough, I’m certain I would belong to a sub-species of humans which have a motorcycle as an extended part of their bodies. My love for motorcycles is that intense- and last Sunday only served to reaffirm this.

It was a much awaited Sunday morning, not for the expected extra hours of sleep- rather, I was to be part of a motorcycle ride which involved me, riding for the first time in my mortal life, the legendary Royal Enfield Classic, 500cc. The Bullet to me has always been a mystical machine, one which carried tales of epic travels and experiences. To be riding one, feeling the thump – the anticipation was almost over-whelming.I had planned to join Karma Yatri, for a day ride from Pune to Mulshi, a picturesque village in the Western ghats.

Boasting of diverse landscape, Pune never fails to amaze the travel junkie looking for a quick fix. Mulshi is about 45 kms to the west of Pune, the main attraction of the region being a dam site which creates a scenic spot to spend a day away from the city. Hidden away from the population and pollution- in a cozy nest created by the hills of the Sahyadri range, Mulshi certainly has what it takes to rejuvenate the mind after a week’s struggle in the city’s rat race.

So there I was- on my designated Bullet for the day, the warmth of the sunrise on my back and the quintessential, adrenalin inducing Ghats, ahead of me! My earphones plugged-in, to the tune of ZZ top’s La grange- I couldn’t have wished for a better start. A clear 40 km stretch on SH 60, which helped me in getting to know my machine a little better, led us out of Pune and we had our first pit stop at the junction of Dattawadi Road. A round of chai and the ever famous Vada Pavs, a delicacy best experienced when piping hot, served on a road side shop in a rural setting. This also gave us an opportunity to catch up with our morning essentials which, in our haste to get on the road were earlier ignored.We took the diversion to the right, climbed briefly through ragged roads, and crested the range getting a panoramic view of the Dam and its catchment lake.

What was spectacular in its beauty was marred by the spate of construction fuelled by the ever increasing weekend tourists . Indiscriminate felling of trees and carving away into the mountain face for flat land in order to make a shabby concrete monstrosity masquerading as a hotel. In a way what we saw was probably the advent of modernization which was successfully erasing the remaining few bits of wilderness. The transformation is evident with the presence of huge excavation machinery, a slowly diminishing population of trees leaving a festering mountainscape. We quickly rode away from there, seeking a road that gave us an experience away from what was a painful reality and opportunity to actually go “off-road”. We rode along for a few KM seeking roads, coming to dead ends, backtracking to main road when we finally diverted to a road on the left and in the general direction of the lake shore.

What followed was- an unbelievable circuit which really tries out your capabilities and skills of handling a motorcycle. This was probably the most intense off-road route I had experimented with.Before this, I had always been pretty confident of my biking skills, but this small stretch humbled me! I saw this as a good thing, because the reminder, that there is so much left to learn only reinforced my attachment to motorcycling.

The off road path we took had absolutely no signs of tar, infact it looked more like a rundown grazing field for cattle, except there was no cattle or signs of grass or soft ground. My first emotion was anxiety. The Bullet was a bike on which I had very little experience, and the lake right next to the path – was where I would head if I lost control, did not help. But my fears never materialized; the Bullet, as I like to call it, was quite understanding- I felt really comfortable shifting my weight and handling the random drifts caused by the loose sands under the tires, the 28 horses packed in the engine making the task less daunting.

It was still early in the day and we had just about gotten into the groove of road-tripping. A gnawing hunger coupled with the desire to explore what the ghats had to offer forced us to leave that magical spot and make the return journey to the main road. We were a mere 45 km from Pune and none of us wanted to return yet, so we took a different route, riding on serpentine patches of tarmac around the lake- this took us through amazing vistas of the lake and also some picture-perfect spots around the hills.

Some more spectacular roads, a wrong turn to the private lake of Aamby valley, and after alternating patches of freshly laid road and absolutely no road, we stopped at ‘Maharaja’ restaurant on the outskirts of Lonavala for lunch- comprising of the humble yet delecious “MisalPav”, for my vegetarian taste and some “chicken handi” with butter rotis for the rest of the group. The food was average but we were ravenous after the ride, attacking the food with a fierce silence, only broken by orders for more rotis and satisfied burrps.

The last leg of the journey back home was like dessert after a perfect dinner. What the mundane and straight highways lacked in terms of excitement the bullet made up for, with it’s raw power. The Bullet- truly ‘made like a gun’, waited impatiently for the monster in it to be unleashed. I personally found it hard to hold back on the throttle, the best part being that even at speeds of 130 kmph this beast showed no signs of restraint on speed. The authority the Bullet claims over the road materializes in vision when you rev up the engine and actually watch as the traffic makes way for you. The aura of royalty around this machine is surely justified. It was a brilliant Sunday and I can’t think of a better way I could have spent it. My awe for the Bullet had been taken to a whole new level and now I must have one! It was emotional for me as I parked the Bullet and parted ways with it.

I look forward to a lot more rides on the Bullet in the future and am really thankful to Karma Yatri for making this experience possible.