Every day seems to be an epic day and today was no exception. We had planned a 100km day but it seemed to expand as the day went on. We first decided not to take the shorter route through the hills coming out of Dapoli.
David was particularly reluctant to end up on a washed out road pushing his bike up a mountain, which is not unreasonable, so we headed downhill towards the coast instead. The strategy was not entirely successful as after pottering along the rather bumpy road by the sea through a couple of villages; we ended up doing a 150m climb – the other side of which going (at least going downhill) was a completely washed out road that we had to pick our way down. But I am slightly ahead of myself. Before the climb we met a very nice couple from Pune while we took photos from a bridge. We chatted about the bikes and ended up with an invitation to stay if we should come to Pune. Unfortunately it is probably too far off our route.
Back to washed out roads. That was a theme of the morning. Almost every road up and down (of which there were many as you can see from our total climbing for the day) was washed out, bumping and jarring, we imagine due to the force of the monsoon rains. This makes progress very slow. The scenery though was lovely and we had a particularly pleasant stretch alongside a river which was mostly flat and well paved and very pretty. We paused for our second breakfast of bananas and oranges (our first being porridge brewed up on our tiny balcony at our hotel).
As we ate, we were passed by a fully equipped, Indian road cyclist who of course stopped to chat. He was part of a small guided group cycling from Mumbai to Goa and said that, although he was Indian, many people thought he must be from abroad as it is unusual for cyclists to be Indian. Soon a lady cyclist caught up (apologies that I cannot remember the names) and their support vehicle and we got some useful tips on the route ahead.
Up and over another bumpy climb to catch a river ferry, which we just got on as they were about to go. We then cycled a few km further on to Harhareshwan beach. We were caught up briefly in the chaos of an overcrowded car park but managed to extract ourselves and have a picnic lunch under the trees by the beach. 66km done but it still looked a long way up the map to go.
The afternoon by contrast was mainly on good roads. We hammered down the next 20km on a flat stretch to try and catch up some distance. Then a long stretch of road cutting between 2 sets of hills so more up and down but mainly reasonable road surface. 90km and 1000m climbing done as we paused for more oranges and bananas, looked on through the trees by some monkeys. It was clear it was going to be more than 100km day as we were still some distance to the next ferry.
Legs were tiring and energy levels dropping but we kept going. The afternoon sun began to flatten and at last we got to the final ferry. A car ferry was coming in but we were redirected to a ‘local’ ferry – a smaller boat where they still lifted in a number of motorbikes so our bikes were no problem.
As we reached the other side, the sun was definitely beginning to go down. The last 10km wound round the peninsular, passing the impressive Janjira fort on an island just off shore. The fort was completed in 1571 and survived both the elements and numerous attacks but is now beginning to crumble. It still looks imposing in the nearly setting sun.
At last we reached Murud, rolling in just before 6pm, well over 10 hours on the bikes and our longest distance this trip. We booked into our basic beachside hotel and immediately crossed the road for a swim as the red globe of the sun finally disappeared and a bright moon rose. A brief swim in the waves washed to day away. Our last in the sea this trip as we are now spitting distance from Mumbai, where we are looking forward to meeting and staying with out warmshowers host tomorrow. A long day but worth it.