(I am taking a break from hospital-related stuff to catch up on personal activities during the Christmas-New Year break. I hope you enjoy the next several posts.)
"Be alert on the roads due to the nuisance of stray dogs and cattle especially on the turnings." Regular readers know that I often participate in charity bike rides, but I do not recall any that included this type of advice to the bikers. The occasion here was Bike4Life, a six-day 550 kilometer ride along Konkan, the western coast of India. The route led from just south of Mumbai to Goa along the narrow strip of land between the Sahyadri range and the Arabian Sea. About 70 of us participated in this fundraiser for Focus Humanitarian Assistance, an international disaster relief and prevention organization affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network. Our group came from Canada, the US, the UK, France, and India to support this worthy cause. Beyond that purpose, we were all curious to travel through this part of India by bicycle, getting a unique perspective on these communities and the terrain.
If you want to trace the route on your own map, we started in Alibaug, a small coastal place 160km south of Mumbai, and ended on the border of Maharastra and Goa at a place called Terekhol. Intermediate stops were Diveagar, Ladghar, Gandpatipule, Madbhan, and Bhogue. Because the coast is characterized by peninsulas, we often boarded ferries (often small rickety ones) and continued our ride on the opposite shore. Sites included pristine beaches, tiny villages with varied cultures and colors, and sea forts. We had a most memorable New Year's eve at Madbhan, where local folks entertained us for two hours with a display of acrobatic dancing, as well as a musical drama based on the Hindu legend of Bhimasur, who fell just short of marrying 1600 women in his quest for immortality. I include a short video of local lads doing a sword dance, along with other scenes from the ride, yes, including one of those pesky cattle.