Total Kms: 1399.6 kms
Fuel Consumed: 35.7-litres
Overall Mileage: 39.2 km/l (city riding and highway cruising)
Royal Enfield’s Continental GT is a cafe racer which turns heads instantly, everywhere
Goa, the smallest state in India, once upon a time ruled by the Portuguese, has so much to offer for everyone visiting and residing. It has always been a dream destination for chilled holidays, cheap fuel, beautiful beaches and amazing party times. Every year the month of December and January, Goa has almost four times the number of tourists then its in-house population. This Christmas, I got a chance to ride to Goa with some friends on the Royal Enfield Continental GT, the cafe racer from the British brand.
The plan was of 5 days, but due to chilled winter riding early in the morning was just like kicking our own butts, so the ride extended to a day more –
Day 1 – Thane to Pune: A proper first 150 kms to get the hang of this cafe racer. The bike was performing the way I wanted it to, changing gears at specific RPM (the gearbox could do with more smoothness but our test bike was new with less than 200 kms on the odo), gunning the throttle at moments and taking care while using the sharp Brembo brakes was all getting into the flow while managing the huge rucksack mounted no where else but to my shoulders.
Three hours of riding and a 30 minute stop at Lonavala for dinner, we all reached Pune in freezing cold. As we entered the parking lot of the place for our stay, the watchmen gather around to check the Continental GT out. Unmounting the bags, we entered our friends place for the night and planned for an early morning leave. But we hit the bed no sooner than mid-night.
Day 2 – Pune to Goa: The plan was to wake up at 4.00 AM and cover the 450 kms stretch and reach Goa by noon. Everyone woke up on time, but none of us had the guts to head out as the temperature was just ranging at around 10 degrees celsius. It was 6.00 in the morning and we left Pune barely crossing the 60 km/hr mark. The next halt was at Vithal Kamat just before entering Satara, a heavy breakfast and we headed out. The roads till Satara were somewhat a pain but at the Kagal section of the NH4, this Royal Enfield managed to hit a speedo indicated top whack of 140 km/hr. The amazing four-lane roads of the Golden Quadrilateral offered sheer riding pleasure.
The next halt was for lunch and it was at Nipani, the Karnataka border. In this section we were going to make a detour and head into the Amboli ghat and join the Mumbai-Goa highway at Sawantwadi. Post lunch the road to Sawantwadi was a huge concern. And as the rains had been there a week back, the roads brought the maximum tiredness and consumed a huge chunk of our time. The Continental GT also gave some issues like the cone-set got loose and the stiff Paioli shocks gave the feel of the bad road till my spine, almost got a headache as we were heading downhill on the ghat going through the off-road section.
I was dealing with the maximum issues as the aggressive position, stiff shocks and the big rucksack on my shoulder just happened to make the ride quality worse on the somewhat off-road ghat section. After 4 hours of luring at speeds below 40 km/hr, we reached Sawantwadi and the joy of getting onto the two lane tarmac of the Mumbai-Goa highway was visible right on our faces. We wasted no time, gunned our throttles and tried to maintain the 80 km/hr cruising speed. It was late evening and the Goa traffic had us, tired to the core, we took another 45 minutes from Mapusa to reach our guest house at Baga beach. We reached at exactly 7.00 in the evening and that was one amazing 13 hour ride.
Day 3 – North Goa: After the amazing yet tiring ride, everybody was asleep till noon the next day. As we woke up, the clock had both its hands up, we got ourselves ready and headed out as soon as possible. Luckily the bikes had got sheltered parking and the cafe racer had a private secured parking place. We took the bikes out, and all the locals were just watching us pass by. The foreigners taking their DSLRs out and clicking pictures, the Royal Enfield Continental GT just got the most attention ever. Headed to north Goa where we went to a local home-resto for lunch and what we see is just Goan food with bread. Still we veggies managed to get some fried rice and salad.
We started off with Anjuna Beach and the deadly Anjuna market. The number of head-turns were more than what we expected. Getting down to the beach and then checking out the market, we had local kids approaching and asking us, “Sir, you rode the yellow bike here correct? It looks amazing”. By the time we got to out bikes, we found a group of five local Royal Enfields parked properly next to the Continental GT and pictures were getting snapped. Grabbing our bikes, we headed to Vagator beach and then to the Chapora fort, the “Dil Chata Hai” fort. Amazing view and a great sunset, our first day in Goa had just completed and we all were just enjoying. Late dinner at a local shack and we headed to our guest house for a good sleep.
Day 4 – Getting the bike fixed: The Amboli ghat and the worst road to Sawantwadi had made the Continental GT’s cone-set very loose and it needed to be fixed urgently. We got a contact and then located the local service centre which was just at a 10 minute ride. Took the bike there and got it fixed within 10 minutes and the service center didn’t charge us. By noon we completed a local set of sight seeing and left for Aguada fort and the Aguada light house. The amazing Portuguese fort under which there is an old jail and we ended up looking at a great sunset and south Goa just across the waterbed upfront. Later a late night ride to Sinquerim beach and we headed to our guest house, completing our dinner en-route.
Day 5 – South Goa: Luck was on our side as we went in the time between which the body of St. Francis Xaviers was brought down for restoration. Riding down to old Goa and then a 2 hour queue and we get the chance to see the holy body. A beautiful church and a museum next to it, we were just acting like crazy tourists. The market there after was just overwhelming; but being a Mumbaikar, I could just figure out that the whole Fashion Street of south Mumbai was scattered all over the market. The art sculptures and fixed price show pieces were the one to catch our eyes in the market. Later we left for Dona Paula while searching a good place for lunch.
Found a Dominos pizza outlet and we all with no-brainer just parked our bikes and got in. The pizzas were hot and delicious and our lunch was properly completed. Dona Paula, the place where a fight scene in Singham movie was shot, the place had small shacks and juice centres whose hoardings were just like “Singham Juice Center”, “Powerful Singham Sandwiches”, etc. Amazed by this, we got to know the main idea of the place rather than Singham. The tragic story of two lovers to stay together for eternity and giving up their lives. Well the place was crowded and we couldn’t click much pictures so we left to explore more. Reached Miramar and we could spot the Aguada light house just across the beach. Coming back to the parking area, the Continental GT was just a celebrity, all the tourist taxi drivers and some more people had surrounded the bike and were busy clicking pictures and selfies. Well this wasn’t just expected, we took the bike and moved to a new place to see.
The Continental GT’s handling left me pleasantly surprised, it is quite eager to corner
Heading more south, we reached Vasco Da Gama by the time the sun set and being Christmas day, we felt we were just in south Mumbai dealing with the same hideous traffic. We could spot some old yet amazing Portuguese houses and those were just astonishing, yet the locals having a good attention towards the yellow cafe racer. The traffic didn’t let us snap a good picture. Heading back, we thought it is party night and all we got to do is spend properly on dinner on a good beach side shack. Back to our guest house and we headed down to Baga beach searching for proper lavish shacks. The Bistro, a beach side shack, good electronic music in the background was the choice. Good starters followed by a proper main course with each of us having a pint of beer, the bill summed up to Rs. 1600/- for four people. That was the cheapest yet a lavish beach side dinner we could have had.
Day 6 – Last Day: It was the last day of our stay and all that was left was enjoying the beach in proper day time. Headed to Candolim beach and we all felt we were on cloud nine. Foreigners tanning their skin, people playing football and some enjoying water sports while some just relaxing and having a good time. We got our swimwear out and just jumped into the waves of the beach. Swimming and jumping over the huge waves was just fun when nothing but a group of locals started playing football and no sooner a British man joined our team. The short quick passes, the jumps and landing in the soft sand, our day was just set as it was 4.00 in the evening by the time we realized the day had just passed.
Headed back to our guest house, cleaned ourselves up and got ready to see the local market. Headed to Calangute market, we searched for some more things to shop. Done with the shopping spree, we entered a pure veg restaurant, ordered dinner and planned for the next day’s leave. Heading back to our guest house, we meet a few more bikers who just checked in and were just next to our room, had a talk with them and planned the return from Chorla ghat to Belgaum and then back to Mumbai via the NH4. All set for the next day, we packed our bags with all the memories and amazing moments enjoyed in Goa.
Day 7 – Travel Back: The most difficult day, leaving Goa and heading back home was just the most difficult moment. Goa is addictive and so is the riding pleasure. We were ready by 5.00 in the morning and left our place at around 5.30 AM. Last night, we met a group who guided us to ride via the Chorla ghat to Belgaum and head to Mumbai via NH4 thereafter. Early morning Google maps was the only way out so we followed it, the rerouting non-sense made us skip the ghat and go through another path and we were just stranded, as we lost the path. We couldn’t trust on maps again but luckily we found a tea shop who guided us.
The route led us to Belgaum but via the Tilari ghat and so with our hard luck, the roads were in pieces. We reached Chandgad and stopped for tea, the cheapest fulfilling breakfast was just Rs. 25/- for each person. Lost most of the time and reached Belgaum after 6 hours of crawling. With the NH4 in our sight, everyone was waiting to gun their throttle. The sheer happiness of finding the main highway was just amazing. Everyone cruising at three digit speeds and munching kms as soon as possible. The Continental GT was the fastest in the group with its 44 Nm of torque ensuring the perfect blend of power play while doing the ton. The sound from the motor kept me grinning at times when I twisted my right wrist to the max.
We reached Karad by late noon and we took a halt for lunch, tired yet amazed and we all were missing Goa already. One of our friends stayed back in Karad and the trio left for Mumbai. The not-so-good sleep of the prior night took a toll on us as we felt our eyelids weighing more and more. While the others managing to ride, the 535cc engine’s vibrations kept me awake all the time. No sooner the sun came down and we were just about to reach Pune, a halt for tea was very much needed. Saw a small tea shop, parked our bikes, sipped two cups of tea and started the ride back. The kms coverage after Karad had increased very well as the old Royal Enfield (the rider along), took a stop at Karad.
The day went off and we were just about to exit Pune, the Pune traffic again gave us a good headache and ate up lot of time. The road to Lonavala from Pune was covered so quick as all the three of us needed some food. Reached Lonavala and the local made masala Maggi was just fulfilling. We got ourselves back on our bike and as we headed home, it was time that the most amazing ride was about to be completed. Back in Thane around 10.00 PM, we took a halt, the group split for their homes. The Royal Enfield Continental GT impressed us thoroughly, having good enough performance with excellent handling and brakes to support spirited riding. We completed the 7 days Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai trip with no problems and a lot of precious memories.
Pictures – Adwait Babras